Posts Tagged bigotry
The other day a friend of mine said that, although she didn’t agree with his theology, Mark Driscoll was a pretty smart guy. I agreed. Boy, were we wrong:
‘Should Christians stay away from yoga because of its demonic roots? Totally. Yoga is demonic,’ Driscoll said. ‘If you just sign up for a little yoga class, you’re signing up for a little demon class.’
I guess he’s an expert. Right. Better warn those taking the weekly yoga class in my church. They have been acting sort of…spooky.
I’m not saying that Driscoll has a low I.Q. – I’m sure that’s not the case. But the above statement sure doesn’t make him sound very smart. It’s the kind of thing that a lot of religious people are saying these days about other traditions, practices and beliefs that they apparently know next to nothing about. It’s the kind of remark that someone who thinks he has all the right answers will make. Stupid and…bigoted.
I suspect that Driscoll (like his fellow Calvinist, Al Mohler) is sure that yoga is demonic because of it’s “non-Christian” roots in Hinduism. (Though he just might feel that yoga is not ‘macho’ enough for him.) To folks like this, any spiritual (or psychological) practice not based on the Bible is demonic, so it only follows that it’s practitioners are worshiping and serving Satan. A major problem with this position (aside from the arrogance) is that many, if not most, of the critics’ own beliefs and practices are not strictly Biblical. At least that’s what the majority of their Christian brothers and sisters think, even if they are too polite to say so. Some, who are not so polite (like me ) might suggest that it is Driscoll and friends who are actually following Satan, since Satan is a clever Hebrew metaphor for the selfish and frightened ego.
This idea that yoga is a way to allow demons access to our minds has been a staple of Christian pop-culture for some time and it’s a mainstay of Christian suspense fiction. But is it any coincidence that in the past few months ‘evangelical’ leaders have begun speaking out against a practice that is so closely identified with Hinduism? I don’t want to sound cynical, but have the hordes of Christian Islamophobes softened up the playing field for a more spirited condemnation of other non-Christians? (If so, then their fellow-traveling Jewish Islamophobes might want to be careful.)
Many of the people who have taken hip-shots at other religions really should know better. Graduates of divinity schools, colleges and universities – you wonder if any of them had ever taken a comparative religion course. But then some of those who teach comparative religions at the college level can miss the forest for the trees when it comes to faith. Though not bigoted they may be prejudiced, tending to see every religion as monolithic (or almost so) – each devotee devoted to the same set of doctrines and imagining the same image of God: all Muslims striving for world domination, all Hindus as polytheists, all Christians believing Jesus is the sacrificial Son of God etc. Certainly a minister like Driscoll should know better -he just needs to look around at his fellow Christians. Consider how there is such a diversity of theological opinion and such a lack of consensus on who Jesus was and what he said and did. How some Christians might even accuse Driscoll of idolatry – an artist’s conception of Jesus on his tee-shirt. He should ponder that a while before he gives into the temptation to tilt at other spiritual windmills.
Actually, maybe a little yoga would help. He’s already hooked into the Christian pop-culture passion for avatars
Dr. Laura Shlessinger resigned from radio yesterday after a controversy erupted over her use of the “N-word”. I haven’t heard the transcripts, but apparently when advising a caller on how to deal with racial discrimination, she used the N-word 11 times in the span of five minutes.
National furor erupted when Schlessinger used the N-word 11 times in five minutes during a call August 10 with an African-American caller who was seeking advice on how to deal with racist comments from her white husband’s friends and relatives. The conversation evolved into a discussion on whether it’s appropriate to ever use the word, with Schlessinger arguing it’s used on HBO and by black comedians.
Schlessinger apologized the following day, saying “I was attempting to make a philosophical point, and I articulated the N-word all the way out — more than one time. And that was wrong. I’ll say it again — that was wrong.”
While Schlessinger told King on Tuesday that she was still “regretful” over the incident, she said she feels her freedom of speech rights “have been usurped by angry, hateful groups who don’t want to debate — they want to eliminate.”
“I decided it was time to move on to other venues where I could say my peace and not have to live in fear anymore,” she said.
Fair enough, I guess, if Dr. Laura had advised a real “patient”, one that she had taken the time to know, within the confines of her office. But did she forget that she was on radio?
More importantly, as a popular “psychologist”, doesn’t she realize that one word can have completely different meanings depending upon who says it? (Though perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised: her doctoral thesis was on the “Effects of Insulin on 3-0-Methylglucose Transport in Isolated Rat Adipocytes”). A lot of people apparently don’t understand this linguistic rule, either. Her argument, that it is acceptable for white people to use the ‘N-word’ because many black people do so, is one that I hear regularly. And it is one that completely ignores the realities of life.
Throughout history we have known words to change their meaning depending upon who is uses them. Here is a classic example, from the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
1 : of, relating to, or characteristic of the townsman or of the social middle class
2 : marked by a concern for material interests and respectability and a tendency toward mediocrity
3 : dominated by commercial and industrial interests : capitalistic
In each case the word takes on a different tone depending upon who is using it. It is complimentary when used by an egalitarian espousing the virtues of the middle class or an epithet when from the lips of Marie Antoinette, Leona Helmsley or John Reed.
When a rabbi exhorts his congregation to live like “good Jews” he is not thinking the same thing that some gentiles are when they say that someone is acting like a Jew.
When the Romans referred to” Christians” it was not complimentary, yet the word was eventually adopted by the 1st century Church. The word “rebel” meant different things to the British colonials than it did to American revolutionaries just as it did later for American Unionists and Southern secessionists.
I have to admit that when talking about Fundamentalists I am not using the word in a positive way. Yet not long ago I was proud to call myself a fundamentalist, even though I bridled when called this by other, non-fundamentalists.
So I don’t think it is too hard to understand why, that many (but not all) Americans of color feel it is OK to use the N-word themselves, it is not OK for white people to do so. Let’s be honest, when a white person says the N-word it ain’t meant as a compliment. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, ugliness is born on the tongue of the speaker.
An American Muslim going by the name of Saladin left a very brief (and the only) comment on my post comparing Right-Wing Islamaphobic blogs to Mein Kampf: ” So few people remember that is past is prologue.” I am glad for the comment because I ended up visiting his blog, “Reflections on the Straight Path”, where I read an excellent piece about New York mayor Michael Bloomburg’s profound speech on the proposed mosque at Ground Zero. With Saladin’s permission, the article is reprinted here:
Yesterday, in a moment of statesmanship that would shame many presidents, Mayor Bloomberg announced that the commission that designated landmarks voted against extending that status to the building located where the Park 51 community center would go. He gave an incredible speech. He stood up for the US constitution, a piece of paper that is our truest national treasure. Many people were overjoyed, many others were outraged. Bloomberg was simultaneously hailed as a hero, a champion for civil rights and all that is good in the United States and condemned as a spineless politician bought off by special interests, if not an actual traitor. None of these reactions are unexpected when dealing with an issue this complex and close to peoples’ hearts and passions.
For those who support the Park 51 Islamic Center, now is the time to speak up, now is the time to reach out. Those who are in pain over the choice, who are righteously indignant–they are the ones we must connect with. They demand to know that “these Muslims” won’t support terrorism, DO condemn the attacks on 9/11. So tell them. Nearly a hundred Muslims died on 9/11–their deaths are equally tragic, equally outrageous. More Muslims have gone off to serve their country, died in wars they may not have fully agreed with but they served their country loyally. American Muslims are not a separate nation nor a fifth column.
For those who oppose Park 51, now is the time to remember what is under attack. It is our nation, it is our strength, and our freedom to choose that the terrorists resent. They think us immoral and corrupt. Some of us are. Most of us aren’t. As long as you do what they say, when they say, how they say, Al-Qaeda really doesn’t have a problem with you. The minute that changes, you change from ally to enemy. The issues that drive that organization are both simple and Byzantine, all at once. What you must remember is that whenever we turn against each other, whenever we choose to marginalize one group or try to curtail their constitutional rights, the terrorists wet their pants with glee. They want us divided, they want us willing to sacrifice our most basic principles. I’ve seen it. I know.
All of us, regardless of our religion, nationality, or any other distinguishing characteristic, are sisters and brothers of this world. We all love, we all bleed, and we’ll all die. The only thing we can change is how we treat each other.
“ We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. ”
—United States Constitution, Preamble
“Repel (evil) with what is better. Then will he, between whom and thee was hatred, become as it were thy friend and intimate. And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint.” The Qur’an – Surah 41, Verse 34 and 35