Sunday, April 13, 2008

Faith-based blather

Sorry, but I was not impressed by CNN's so-called Compassion Forum this evening, nor am I thrilled at the prospect that there will be another later on, with Sen. McCain participating, after the Democratic candidate has been chosen.

I watched a minute or two of the "analysis" afterward, and heard Candy Crawley marveling that the Democrats finally "get it" about religion. And just what, pray tell, do they get? That they have to let the Republicans determine the tenor of religious discourse in this country? That they have to let the "religious right" define just what it means to be a person of faith?

"...climate change, genocide, torture, poverty, and HIV/AIDS..."

That's what NRCAT promised when it sent me the announcement about the Compassion Forum. But guess what Hillary had to spend most of her time on? Do I even have to ask? abortion, euthanasia and, of course, the place of God in her life. Though I tried my best to follow the rambling narrative of her lifelong spiritual journey, I got lost somewhere between the Holy Spirit and Queen Esther. And maybe I missed it, but I don't think she ever wandered out of Judeo-Christian territory. There are a few other religious traditions practiced in this country.

I listened incredulously to her advice on how we should all preserve the earth and its resources by making sure we turn out the lights when we leave the room and --oh yes, by all means, use energy-efficient lightbulbs. And it is so important that the next president reassure
us hyperconsuming but oh-so-Christian Americans that conservation isn't so s-s-s-s-scary after all.

That is positively obscene! For crying out loud, there's a food crisis in developing countries! Not a word about farmland in those countries being used to grow plants that produce ethanol instead of being used to grow crops for people to live on??? Not a word about how

...the main losers are poor people who live in cities in developing countries, who are facing higher prices for imported food on low incomes....Food riots from Haiti to Indonesia are causing increasing political instability....The main gainers are farmers in rich and emerging market nations like the US, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and Australia, who are getting record prices for their harvests. [surprise, surprise!] To put it bluntly, rich people eat more than poor people, and all this economic growth is generating a whole new tier of middle-class consumers who buy more meat and processed food. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7340214.stm

Remind me again: how many years ago was Diet for a Small Planet published?

Oh, and should President Bush attend the opening of the Olympics? What will it say about our commitment to human rights if he does? Excellent question! And things like: 5 years+ of Guantánamo Bay prison, kangaroo trials before military commissions, extraordinary rendition, waterboarding [a.k.a. a dunk in the water], putting a prison on trial who was minor at the time he became an "enemy combatant," denying treatment to prisoners with life-threatening illnesses, the fact that no high-ranking government official was ever tried (let alone convicted) for abuses at Abu Ghraib ... just what does all that say about our commitment to human rights?

And will the indignant feminists out there --the ones who are fuming because a young, good-looking (talented, capable) male had the audacity to come along and deprive Hillary of her rightful shoo-in-- would you kindly tell me why the first serious woman presidential hopeful could not just come right out and say: "I'm pro-choice. It's the law of the land that a woman have that choice and it should not be taken away from her. Period!"
[Sorry if that offends anyone, but that's my conviction and this is my blog.] What was all that tap-dancing around the pro-life/pro-choice issue? When his turn came, Barack Obama did a pretty artistic soft-shoe himself... although he finally did manage to spit out that the final decision should rest with the woman, her physician and her pastor. Whew!

The next exasperated scream you heard was from me when the wonderful moderator asked Obama if he believed that God had created the universe in 6 days, as we read in the Book of Genesis. Get real, people! That is not the stuff of compassion!

Finally --next to the last question, I think-- came the one I had been waiting for from Rev. David Gushee, one of the authors of the Evangelical Declaration Against Torture. Obama responded by condemning torture along with extraordinary rendition and the rollback of our constitutional rights.

OK, give the guy 1 hallelujah.

And he did manage to say that these abusive policies have resulted from the all-pervasive culture of fear caused by 9/11, but that his faith enables him not to act out of fear.

Oh yeah, and he acknowledged the vibrant variety of religious practice that exists in the US.

2 hallelujahs and 1 yea-verily.

But he'd have gotten a hosanna in excelsis had he promised to close Guantánamo Bay prison as his first official act as President, to make the CIA comply with the Army Field Manual on Interrogation, and to prosecute crimes against humanity, no matter how high up on the chain of command... thus setting our country on the road toward recovery of its honor and moral standing before God and the world.

I think the moderators and the presidential hopefuls should watch Karen Armstrong's TED Award address, Wish: Charter for Compassion before the next televised autodafé.

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