Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Church of Public Radio

Sunday night programming on public radio is getting dumber and dumberer. It's as if some liberal NPR exec gave out an order to counter the rise of all those fundamentalist channels infecting the airwaves, sending his underlings scrambling for any "spiritual" voices regardless how inane so long as they mock or condescend over all Christians who actually take Christianity seriously. It's a Unitarian's dream come true.

There's the Infinite Mind from which I just learned that "all experiences of God take place in the brain" and that if scientists could replicate that neurological mechanism, we could "help people" with depression, anxiety, a whole host of mental disorders, and we could have religious experiences on-demand! The expert then reassures us that his research does not challenge religious faith at all, but only enhances it, unless, he's quick to qualify, you're doctrinal in your beliefs.

Then there's the div school dean who was blind enough to proclaim that the real threat of destructive religious extremism ("evil religion" in his book) in this country is to be found in the those fundamentalists who oppose perfectly rational and good stuff like legalized abortion and Roe v. Wade. I guess the destruction of millions of embryonic humans isn't all that destructive. He has the gall of associating Christian fundies with Al Qaeda. He mused that if only Osama abided by the Golden Rule...then he wouldn't be so evil.

Yeah, and if we all spoke Esperanto, we wouldn't need translators. The reason Esperanto failed is the same reason why liberal religion has failed and will fail as a historical force. If only these so-called experts would get their noses out of their Western Enlightenment navels they'd maybe see that their ideas only feed the flames of fundamentalism via the backlash effect. Their smug sentimentalized posturing gilded with the airs of superiority would disgust anyone who takes their faith seriously, including both rational and irrational believers.

Now I can't stand fundamentalism but I have to respect their consistency, tenacity, and their scorn for the two-faced hypocrisy of "liberal" spirituality. I'm with them when they feel the brunt of the puritanical moralisms of the Left, particularly its extremist attitudes on tolerance, inclusivity, relativism, perspectivalism, individualism/collectivism, nonjudgmentalism, anti-establishmentarianism, sexual expressionism, et al. But that's all I share with the Protestant Right in America. Right and left religiosity are invariably flip sides of the same coin of Protestantism to me.

When you separate faith and reason, as Protestantism did, then you're forced to pick sides. The Right picked faith against reason; the Left reason againt faith. It's that simple. The only solution for the West is a return to the synthesis between faith and reason, where for example Catholicism's protest against legal abortion is rooted in natural law, not solely revelation (revelation under Catholicism is never destructive of reason anyway). Only under Protestantism could anyone argue that hostility to abortion is rooted solely in religious belief which is assumed to be independent of reason.

Anyway, there's also Speaking of Faith, which is more of the same "alternative" spiritual cotton candy. It's not enough that Alternative religiosity can point out heroic figures who represent its views. Heroic individuals do not a religion make. A true religion has to organically inspire and unite an entire people regardless of class, education, or ideology. It has to find its roots in something that transcends all those things, and not just in the mind of individuals but in entire communities. The Golden Rule and Tolerancism are not religions in this sense -- by themselves they're just sugary disembodied ideas.