September 4, 2012

"[I]t is my obligation, not only as an elected official in a pluralistic society but also as a Christian, to remain open to the possibility that my unwillingness to support gay marriage is misguided..."

"... just as I cannot claim infallibility in my support of abortion rights. I must admit that I may have been infected with society’s prejudices and predilections and attributed them to God; that Jesus’ call to love one another might demand a different conclusion; and that in years hence I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history. I don’t believe such doubts make me a bad Christian. I believe they make me human, limited in my understandings of God’s purpose and therefore prone to sin. When I read the Bible, I do so with the belief that it is not a static text but the Living Word and that I must be continually open to new revelations — whether they come from a lesbian friend or a doctor opposed to abortion."        

Barack Obama, "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream" (2006)(pages 349-350, Kindle Edition).

211 comments:

1 – 200 of 211   Newer›   Newest»
AF said...

That's some high-quality hedging right there.

Christopher in MA said...

It's my understanding that "new revelations" can only come from God.

Oh, sorry - this is Obama we're talking about.

Moose said...

Wow - talk about world class straddling.

God bless his soul.

Pogo said...

"When I read the Bible, I do so with the belief that it is not a static text but the Living Word and that I must be continually open to new revelations"

Gosh, just like the Living Constitution, the Living Word says whatever the hell you want it to say.

EDH said...

Soul searching being used to mask political calculation.

The Drill SGT said...

what I remember from 2008, is "above my pay grade"

and Nov 2008

"The White House front-runner said in an interview with MTV he did not support same-sex weddings and believed "marriage is between a man and a woman"."

Alan said...

The only new "revelations" come from better linguistics. And they're "new" only in that our generation doesn't understand ancient languages as well as the ancients did.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Is there a part in there about his struggles supporting partial-birth abortion?

A little less safe/noble of a cause, no?

YoungHegelian said...

I think the commenters here are being too hard on Obama here.

Remember, this is a lefty-liberal admitting that his support of abortion rights may need to be revised in light of further revelation or experience, and that his side may end up judged as on the wrong side of history.

These are not trivial admissions.

How is it waffling to admit our moral knowledge is often historically contingent?

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Shorter Obama:

As a liberal, I insist on my right to have it both ways.

BarryD said...

What I see there doesn't sound remotely similar to anything that I have ever heard Obama say. It sounds like a different person, both in its content and its style.

Andy R. said...

It's cute when Althouse tries to have a discussion about something substantively interesting and it's impossible because so many of the commenters here respond with dumb blind Obama hatred.

Smilin' Jack said...

...I must be continually open to new revelations — whether they come from a lesbian friend or a doctor opposed to abortion.

Or from that clearest indicator of God's will: the latest poll.

Pogo said...

Not only bullshit, but ghosted bullshit, as per BarryD.

Pogo said...

"It's cute when..." is the least interesting and among the most disingenuous of criticisms, being a self-repudiation of whatever follows.

Amartel said...

Pogo @ 12:59
I was thinking the same thing. It occurs to me that that's where they got the idea about calling the Constitution a "living document". Makes the concept familiar sounding and palatable.

Also, Obama seems much more receptive to the "revelations" of the lesbian friend rather than the doctor opposed to abortion. I guess there' revelations and then there's revelations. (It's a living.)

Peter said...

"When I read the Bible, I do so with the belief that it is not a static text but the Living Word... "

Perhaps what he means is, support for gay marriage might be found in the penumbras formed by emanations of the text?

Surely we can trust that he wouldn't be so crass as to just look for how the text might be interpreted in ways that will further his candidacy. Can't we?

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Andy R. said...

It's cute when Althouse tries to have a discussion about something substantively interesting and it's impossible because so many of the commenters here respond with dumb blind Obama hatred.


Please instruct us, great one, what is the substantively interesting subject we must undertake at your behest? Could it be the destruction of binary gender roles by any chance?

Pogo said...

In the Living Word, hell is a tax not a penalty.

AF said...

"How is it waffling to admit our moral knowledge is often historically contingent?"

It's not. That's why this is such high-quality waffling.

Paddy O said...

Technically, Jesus is the Living Word.

The Bible is a text that testifies to the Living Word.

The Trinity is still Fathers, Son, Holy Spirit. Not Father, Bible, Passionate Argument.

Matthew Sablan said...

This only is relevant to gay marriage if we assume that the marriage that the state sanctions is in any way related to the religious use of the term. I, for one, don't think that we should be giving the state the power to define things for religious sects; it should, however, be perfectly able to define a marriage contract as the state would choose to enforce it.

There's no inconsistency here, if we take some time to cut through the mist of unclear wording.

bagoh20 said...

When developing fictional characters, it can be a challenge to make them come off realistic. There is the tendancy to make them symbolic rather than real.

BarryD said...

This is a fine example of why the Founders being functional Deists was such a great thing.

Whether they were, in fact, atheists, agnostics, Unitarians, Christians of various sorts, etc., their fundamental belief was that God, or Nature, had given humans both morality and reason. Humans were expected to work things out, using these two vital foundations.

I believe that Age of Reason thinkers believed it was not only necessary that we do this, but a moral imperative, the mission of humanity on Earth, even.

Whatever someone's religious beliefs or lack thereof, this way of thinking seems like a pretty solid way to form an operate a government.

The idea of a President who gets "revelations" is one that makes me really uncomfortable, to say the least. I almost feel better that I am certain that Obama didn't actually write any of this stuff.

Graham Powell said...

Now see, I'm not a fan of Obama, but I'm also willing to concede I might be wrong about things. (Backed by long experience, just ask my wife.)

I suspect this is because I work with computers all day, and computers have a way of making you look like an idiot.

FloridaSteve said...

That's almost a good as him reading it from a teleprompter. However I don not believe he could eve ad-lib that as I don't believe he believes a word of it.

YoungHegelian said...

I'm sorry, but I don't understand the problem with Living Word/Additional Revelation.

I thought if one believes in Divine Providence, then the Will of God gets manifested to us not only as individuals, but also, in the aggregate, as revelation through history.

Am I mistaken here?

If one wants to accuse Obama of bad faith, and not living up to these ideals (e.g. Pelosi and her Catholicism), then make that case.

But theologically and morally, I'm not seeing the issue here. As I said above, what strikes me is the admission that his moral support of abortion just may be being fashionable & not being truly moral.

Gabriel Hanna said...

When I read the Bible, I do so with the belief that it is not a static text but the Living Word and that I must be continually open to new revelations..

In defense of Barack Obama, every Christian has been doing this since the first century A. D.

That's why there's thousands of different Christian sects--the Bible is not unambiguous, reasonable people can interpret it differently, and social mores change.

For example, the Bible contains not one word against slavery. It contains detailed instructions for how slaves may be treated and how they should be treated. Yet virtually no Christian today would say that slavery is something Christians can practice and be consistent with the Gospels.

I am happy to produce other examples if need be. You'll get tired of it before I will.

Christopher in MA said...

It's cute when Althouse tries to have a discussion about something substantively interesting and it's impossible because so many of the commenters here respond with dumb blind Obama hatred.

Replace "so many" with "one" and "Obama" with "Christians," Hat, then take a good long look in the mirror.

rhhardin said...

The trinity never made any sense to me in Sunday School.

It didn't do any good to ask.

A similar problem came up at Easter.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Paddy O,

Exactly right. Jesus is the Word. The Bible is testament to the Word. Or so I understand it.

Obama seems to be saying, in the line Pogo singled out, that today the Living Word is saying something to him, but tomorrow it (or He) might be saying something else. As it proved re: gay marriage. But not re: abortion, and I wouldn't hold my breath on that one -- not for a man who couldn't bring himself to support a bill ensuring that babies accidentally born alive during the course of an abortion be treated as live children (as they are, definitionally) and given the same care any premature infant would be.

KJE said...

As a Christian, I could be convinced that God has changed his mind.

But in order for me to do that, I think I necessarily would have to accept the idea that God did get it right, the first time, on both topics.

Brian O'Connell said...

He was clearly trying to have it both ways. If you're against gay marriage, as most people were in 2008, you won't have any problem voting Obama on that score, but if you're for gay marriage, here's a tidbit you can hold onto, and you can vote Obama too.

John Edwards had the same schtick when he said he was against it, but that Elizabeth was in the process of changing his mind.

The whole "I'm evolving" thing strikes me as quite disingenuous. To say "I'm evolving on the issue"- whatever the issue- you need to realize that your current thoughts on the matter are wrong. No one stays in this psychological state for an extended period of time- it's against human nature. People do change their opinions of course, but they tend to go from one stable, coherent set of ideas to another fairly rapidly. It's only perceived political advantage that causes these people to claim they're in between worlds for years on end.

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
deborah said...

"It didn't do any good to ask."

Did you ask?

jr565 said...

[I]t is my obligation, not only as an elected official in a pluralistic society but also as a Christian, to remain open to the possibility that my unwillingness to support gay marriage is misguided..."

"... just as I cannot claim infallibility in my support of abortion rights. I must admit that I may have been infected with society’s prejudices and predilections and attributed them to God; that Jesus’ call to love one another might demand a different conclusion; and that in years hence I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history. I don’t believe such doubts make me a bad Christian. I believe they make me human, limited in my understandings of God’s purpose and therefore prone to sin. When I read the Bible, I do so with the belief that it is not a static text but the Living Word and that I must be continually open to new revelations — whether they come from a lesbian friend or a doctor opposed to abortion."


The problem with this statement is that you can make it about anything, not just abortion and/or gay marriage. Perhaps opposition to pedophilia is in fact an infection of societies prejudices. Perhaps support of liberal policies are an infection of societies prejudices.
Perhaps Jesus's call to love one another may be an infection of societies prejudices. Can Obama claim infallibility in any viewpoint?

jdniner said...

Is he saying he gets his revelations from lesbians? I would worship that religion. I go back and forth on this myself. I am not sure what is best. It seems that we should have a national discussion on this issue instead of ping ponging it back and forth in the court system until everyone is broke.

Why is a civil union not good enough? IS it because all the gay proponents grew up thinking they were straight and having man/woman values for a marriage? Now they feel out of sorts because their sexuality evolved and the idea of marriage didn't?

Wouldn't it be better to ask everyone in the country that wanted to be married to have a civil union first, then consecrate a marriage in a church. And let each church celebrate the marriage in the fashion they see fit? Civil union would be regarding to affairs of people, marriage regarding affairs of God.

Pragmatist said...

Nice to have a president that can articulate himself. Here's a thought: if you do not like abortions, don't have one. If you do not approve of gay marriage, do not marry a gay person. If you do not like prayer in school, don't pray. If you do not like fast food, don't eat it. Just do not require the rest of us to follow you in your particular likes and dislikes.

shiloh said...

"world class straddling."

but, but, but mittens is the prince of straddling ... which has been "revised" :D several times the past (20) years.

Indeed, willard etch-a-sketch mittens is continuous evolving or some such nonsense lol.

Remember, everything Romney says in the future is retroactive to the past! :-P

btw, pickling lyin' Ryan was the cherry on top ...

>

ok, my deflection is finished as we now return you to Althouse, obsessing about Obama, minutiae.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Pragmatist: Here's a thought: if you do not like abortions, don't have one.

If you don't approve of beating children, don't beat them. If you don't approve of euthanizing your elderly relatives, don't euthanize them.

Abortion involves someone else's life, you see, and that is why it is not like your other examples, but more like mine.

YoungHegelian said...

@jr565,

Can Obama claim infallibility in any viewpoint?

No, can you? Can any human being see with the eyes of God?

Jeez, when the Pope claims to be infallible once or twice in a millennium everybody has a conniption fit. Folks on this board do it twice before breakfast and three times on the weekend!

Jason said...

These are my bedrock principles. If you don't like them... I have others.

TMink said...

I do understand scripture better as I age and am edified by the Holy Spirit. The understandings always point me toward how to be more loving and kind.

They never point me toward being gay or a murderer.

Trey

Tank said...

Pragmatist said...

Nice to have a president that can articulate himself. Here's a thought: if you do not like abortions, don't have one. If you do not approve of gay marriage, do not marry a gay person. If you do not like prayer in school, don't pray. If you do not like fast food, don't eat it. Just do not require the rest of us to follow you in your particular likes and dislikes.


Whatever you or I think this is, it's not the way Zero sees the world. Nor most Republicans.

Bryan C said...

Interesting. Obama seems to start from the premise that his personal religious beliefs should inform his public policy. And that a change those policies requires a change in religious beliefs. Obama's Road To Damascus comes with "revelations" at every rest stop.

"I don’t believe such doubts make me a bad Christian. I believe they make me human, limited in my understandings of God’s purpose and therefore prone to sin."

Oddly, I've never met a Christian who believed that having doubts make one a bad Christian. Maybe Obama found Reverend Wright's flock to be less tolerant.

Anyway, he uses a lot of words to say, basically, "All beliefs subject to change without notice." Which is pretty much what I expect from a politician of his stripe.

Christopher in MA said...

Nice to have a president that can articulate himself.

Remind me what His grades were again?

Matthew Sablan said...

When Republicans opine like this, they are promoting a theocracy. When Obama opines like this, he is being articulate.

BarryD said...

"These are my bedrock principles. If you don't like them... I have others."

FTW

That sounds downright Clintonian. It just doesn't sound all that Obamanian.

gerry said...

These are not trivial admissions.

It's Obama. It's called bullshit.

YoungHegelian said...

@Bryan,

Oddly, I've never met a Christian who believed that having doubts make one a bad Christian

I see you're unaware of the Calvinist strains of Protestant Christianity, where, lack of certainty of election is not a good sign for the future of one's soul.

And it's interesting that you use the term "Road to Damascus" because, isn't that what Obama is talking about here? An openess to a life-changing Providential event, which is something I thought all Christians (and indeed persons of good moral sense in general) should want.

BarryD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BarryD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hagar said...

"Articulated" can also mean "with moving joints," like a Pinocchio doll?

Contort?

n.n said...

His only principle is a lack of principles. It's no wonder that Jarrett is hiding behind the curtains, while Obama maintains an aesthetically and emotionally pleasing front.

phx said...

Sounds very reasonable. That's the way reasonable people think and consider in my experience.

YoungHegelian said...

@Barry,

All beliefs are subject to chance without explanation, and when the Pope, er, President, proclaims that there is a new truth, thous shalt fall in line immediately.

Why is this a function of Revelation vs Reason. Changes in belief can't be explained? I thought that was what Apologetics was about.

And, Barry, there were a bunch of guys who thought that they would get together and boot out Revelation & build a state on Enlightenment Reason. It was called the French Revolution. Ask the folks in La Vendee how that turned out.

Curious George said...

From Althouse's Amzon link, containing Q&A with The Magic Negro:

"Q: You're known for being able to work with people across ideological lines. Is that possible in today's polarized Washington?

A: It is possible. There are a lot of well-meaning people in both political parties. Unfortunately, the political culture tends to emphasize conflict, the media emphasizes conflict, and the structure of our campaigns rewards the negative. I write about these obstacles in chapter 4 of my book, "Politics." When you focus on solving problems instead of scoring political points, and emphasize common sense over ideology, you'd be surprised what can be accomplished. It also helps if you're willing to give other people credit--something politicians have a hard time doing sometimes.

I mean if this asshole can say this what can't he say?

BarryD said...

'Anyway, he uses a lot of words to say, basically, "All beliefs subject to change without notice." Which is pretty much what I expect from a politician of his stripe.'

That's not what concerns me about it.

All beliefs are subject to change without explanation, and when the Pope, er, President, proclaims that there is a new truth, thou shalt fall in line immediately. Then thou shalt forget that a different truth ever existed, or suffer the consequences.

See Fil-A, Chick.

I don't oppose gay marriage. But I do oppose the marriage of 1984 with the Spanish Inquisition.

Methadras said...

that Jesus’ call to love one another might demand a different conclusion; and that in years hence I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history.

This is indeed true, but the call to codify it isn't in that calling. Laws are by definition discriminatory. Shocking isn't it? But hey, when you have an evolving position like Urkel did or does on homosexual marriage as a function of political expediency, then anything you say will make sense to your constituency.

paul a'barge said...

Listen to the sermons of Jeremiah Wright.

Now, ponder that Obama sat in Wright's church for 20 years, had Wright baptize Obama's daughters and mentioned Wright glowingly in Obama's book.

Ponder that.

Bryan C said...

"Wouldn't it be better to ask everyone in the country that wanted to be married to have a civil union first, then consecrate a marriage in a church. And let each church celebrate the marriage in the fashion they see fit? Civil union would be regarding to affairs of people, marriage regarding affairs of God."

That works for me. Render unto Caesar, and all that. This would not require any church to recognize or solemnize a civil-union of which they do not approve. And the state gets a stable legal definition.

I think that's a good balance, but I suspect a certain hat-wearing frequent commenter may not agree.

Methadras said...

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Shorter Obama:

As a liberal, I insist on my right to have it both ways.


Then that would make him a moderate. Oh wait, I see what you did right there.

phx said...

Cromwell's Rule

I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.

BarryD said...

YoungHegelian, for someone who knows some history, you seem not to know anything about history, nor do you stop and read. Therefore, you missed the point of my whole post.

Try reading it again.

And Apologetics is a bunch of bullshit, so don't even bother with rhetorical questions that assume otherwise.

caseym54 said...

I wish that he'd have as open a mind about capitalism.

Chip Ahoy said...

Every time I read it I get something different out of it. See how it's a living breathing document? It lives and breathes through me.

Revelation is different. That's when God talks to you. But it's different from that you silly atheists. You already reject this but God told me to tell you anyway what he told me, that it's more amazing than that, He said the divinity that is within you contacts with Himself and the extent or yourself's contact equals your personality's choice of having that channel open, that's what I should say even though you will think less of me, I don't care la la la because God said tell them it really does feel like this:

Now, when I talked to God I knew he'd understand
He said, "Stick by me and I'll be your guiding hand
But don't ask me what I think of you
I might not give the answer that you want me to."
and the guitars go
doodledee doodledee do dumdum dee dum
dum
dooodledee doodledee dumdum de dum

Rob said...

Constitution, Bible, whatever.

YoungHegelian said...

@barry,

Ad hominem insults are not arguments.

Your blanket statements like "Apologetics are Bullshit" may come as a great surprise to all the atheists & agnostics who have profited from such works as Augustine's Confessions (e.g Wittgenstein) in Western History.

Don't mistake the limits of your mind for the limits of reason

Sigivald said...

Doubtless a theocrat who hates women.

I mean, all that Jesus talk, and he might listen to a Doctor who opposes abortion and change his mind? (Might? Cover for changing later!)

Oh, wait. Sorry.

That's only if someone with (R) after their name had said that.

(YoungHegelian would have an excellent point if any of us actually believed for a second that the President meant he soul-searched over any of this, or had any doubts at all.

I find myself unable to believe he has done either - or rather, if he's had doubts, they've been about electoral politics rather than the moral impact of his positions.

I find myself unable to do so because he hasn't acted like it; one best demonstrates such a position by ever changing to an unpopular position or changing against what would shore up your base.

[Equally to be fair, there's not a lot that one can do as President that can't be read as either pandering to your base or sucking up to the opposition... but still, he hasn't even tried to convince me.])

Rick67 said...

I'm with YoungHegelian on this one. In and of themselves, these aren't bad statements. I say that as someone who has almost no respect at all for Obama and think he's been a disastrous president.

The only thing I have a problem with is the whole "static text, Living Word" argument. Which all too often is (a) a false dichotomy (hello? what do these two options even mean?) and (b) is a way to cloak current cultural prejudices with the authority of "revelation".

It's also the Achilles Heal of Protestant Christianity, and I say that as a Protestant minister.

Having said all that, knowing it's from Obama, and knowing his track record, how often he *does* say worthy things that hardly match the rest of what he says and does, it's hard not to conclude it's pious b******t, pretending to be humble and open minded when most of his adult life demonstrates that he isn't.

Rob said...

Pragmatist said...

Nice to have a president that can articulate himself. Here's a thought: if you do not like abortions, don't have one. If you do not approve of gay marriage, do not marry a gay person. If you do not like prayer in school, don't pray. If you do not like fast food, don't eat it. Just do not require the rest of us to follow you in your particular likes and dislikes.


Hmm, this may seem like innocent libertarian thought, but look where it leads: If you don't believe in rape, don't rape anyone. If you don't believe in murder, don't murder anyone. If you don't believe in property rights, take whatever you want from anyone.
Really not so simple. Abortion is a tough one: when is a person a person and when do they get rights? I oppose abortion because I don't see a logical place to put the line. I understand the difficulty in formulating a line. However, unlimited abortion rights result in late term abortion of viable babies. How can it be that killing an infant on the inside of someone's body is okay but would be murder if the same child were to have been born?

BarryD said...

YoungHegelian, that was NOT an insult. It was a statement of fact as I perceive it, without regard for your feelings about it because you come off as an arrogant person who doesn't deserve that consideration.

Your answer demonstrated that you didn't comprehend the post you were challenging. It seems you constructed an unintentional straw man.

Read my post again, and maybe you will understand it. Seriously. You completely missed the point, as in you didn't get what the subjects and verbs were, nor the implications thereof.

And I couldn't care less about some historical atheists who liked Augustine's writings. I can read and think for myself. Speaking of ad hominem...

MadisonMan said...

No one knows exactly what is on God's mind. (Minds?) Why shouldn't the interpretation of His word change each time you read it?

I don't expect two people to react identically to the same text. So why should one person react the same at two different points in time?

BarryD said...

"It's also the Achilles Heal of Protestant Christianity, and I say that as a Protestant minister."

Do you mean "Protestant Christians"? I'm not sure that Christianity has that Achilles' Heel, necessarily.

I understand that a belief system can hardly exist without any believers, but nevertheless I don't think that the primary underpinning of Protestant Christianity, that a believer's faith is between the individual and God, does not have this weakness. It ultimately precludes the judgment of individual human beings by other human beings.

And relevant to the topic at hand, Luther's 90th thesis: "To repress these arguments and scruples of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the Church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies"

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

jdniner, BryanC,

"Wouldn't it be better to ask everyone in the country that wanted to be married to have a civil union first, then consecrate a marriage in a church. And let each church celebrate the marriage in the fashion they see fit? Civil union would be regarding to affairs of people, marriage regarding affairs of God."

That works for me. Render unto Caesar, and all that. This would not require any church to recognize or solemnize a civil-union of which they do not approve. And the state gets a stable legal definition.

I think that's a good balance, but I suspect a certain hat-wearing frequent commenter may not agree.


I've been arguing that for years. Make what's now called "marriage" for government purposes "civil union," and open it to same-sex couples. You want to get officially "married," you do it in church. What's government doing in the sacrament-issuing business, anyway?

This way, gay couples who want absolutely all the appurtenances of marriage (the actual name apart) get them; the people who want to reserve "marriage" for a sacrament (and that includes, for example, some Episcopalians who do perform gay marriages) keep the term; and the people who are always desperate to embarrass doctrinally conservative churches for tearing gay folk from the bedsides of their seriously-ill partner in hospital will have time for other pursuits. Everyone will be on exactly the same footing.

Hagar said...

How many fingers do you see?

Bryan C said...

"I see you're unaware of the Calvinist strains of Protestant Christianity, where, lack of certainty of election is not a good sign for the future of one's soul."

Not unaware, but not my experience. And I doubt it's really Obama's either. It's the sort of rigid mindset that's lot more common among fictional Christians than real ones.

"And it's interesting that you use the term "Road to Damascus" because, isn't that what Obama is talking about here? An openess to a life-changing Providential event, which is something I thought all Christians (and indeed persons of good moral sense in general) should want."

Yes, that was intentional. Obama seems to regard these opinions from people around him as "new revelations" with a profound effect on his core beliefs. Maybe his belief system really does rearrange after every random conversation. That'd certainly be very convenient for a man in his line of work.

AJ Lynch said...

"No one knows exactly what is on God's mind. (Minds?) Why shouldn't the interpretation of His word change each time you read it?

I don't expect two people to react identically to the same text. So why should one person react the same at two different points in time?"

Above is the way libruls think and shows why they believe words like "marriage" can be re-defined after several thousand years to whatever they want it to mean today and tomorrow we may change it again.

Meade said...

Okay, but what did he say when he thought he was off mic?

Dave said...

".... let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God's righteousness..... If any think they are religious, and do not bridles their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and do keep oneself unstained by the world." from the epistle of James appointed for last Sunday the 14th after Pentecost.

Listening to this text two days ago in church it had new meaning for me in the context of conventions and political sniping - and - most especially the constant angry postings here - turn off the computers - and remember what Mommy taught - "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything."

AF said...

Meade said: "Okay, but what did he say when he thought he was off mic?"

Presumably something like: I'll come out in favor of gay marriage as soon I can get away with it. You have a problem with that?

JAL said...

2004 Obama Interview

Falsani: Do you believe in sin?

Obama: Yes.

Falsani: What is sin?

Obama: Being out of alignment with my values.

JAL said...

Life is a blank screen on which everyone projects their own images.

Or at least BHO thinks he is like that screen.

phx said...

@Dave Thanks.

The Godfather said...

Obama's "open to new revelations" makes the process sound too passive. Figuring out what's right and wrong is a moral duty, even if it's hard. St. Paul said, "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." The enterprise is just as serious for non-believers.

Call me a cynic, but I don't think Obama changed his position on Gay marriage because of a "new revelation" (or even a lesbian friend). I think he changed because of political expediency. The religious mumbo jumbo is just cover to minimize the damage to his support among those who oppose Gay marriage.

The Crack Emcee said...

Thanks for that:

I love reading gobbledegook,...

donald said...

Barak Obama does not read the bible.

No way. He's an atheist and is a coward to not admit it.

The Crack Emcee said...

"new revelations"

The One has them himself.

Romney waits for somebody else to get one.

We are so screwed,...

exiledonmainst said...

"Obama: Being out of alignment with my values."

A lovely summary of moral relativism. There are no universal values, only "my values." Hell, Pol Pot and the Marquis deSade acted in alignment with their values.

I hope America will act in alignment with its' values in November and boot Captain Kickass out of office.



creeley23 said...

Since I read Obama's account of his conversion to Christianity, I've never been able to take him seriously as a Christian.

If you read Andrew Sullivan's quotes from Obama about his conversion at Rev Wright's church, you will see that Obama didn't convert to Christianity -- Obama mentions nothing whatsoever about God, Christ, love, forgiveness or redemption -- but to a liberation victim story of blacks as an oppressed chosen people. It's all Old Testament allusions except the mistaken reference to "Christians in the lion's den." (Typically Obama affects knowledge and gets it wrong.)

Christianity is about God, Christ, and Christ's message. People who have Christian conversion experiences talk about those, not about Blacks as the modern version of Jews freeing themselves from Pharoah.

Obama is no Christian. He's a black politician who has ridden the back of Christianity to gain power.

bgates said...

I think the commenters here are being too hard on Obama here.

Me too, and not only because Bill Ayers wrote that.

It's cute when Althouse tries to have a discussion about something substantively interesting and it's impossible

Is Obama another idiot who believes in the Sky Fairy, or was the discussion of faith from back in the days when he proclaimed the real enemy to be cynicism itself a cynical fraud meant only to dupe gullible Christians into voting for him? That's an interesting question.

exiledonmainst said...

"Listening to this text two days ago in church it had new meaning for me in the context of conventions and political sniping - and - most especially the constant angry postings here - turn off the computers - and remember what Mommy taught - "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything."

9/4/12 2:53 PM

I do believe this falls under the Althouse tag of "civility bullshit."

Don't Tread 2012 said...

Is it the bullshitter-in-chief, or is it the denigrator-in-chief?

Either way, the modern democrats have revealed themselves as cattle herders.

traditionalguy said...

I doubt that Barack Obama wrote that. It is the liberal Christian position in mainline denominations.

That position is in essence repeating the the political wisdom that says, " half of my friends are against it and half of my friends are for it...I agree with my friends."

Another thought is to observe that is in essence lawlwssness. Because we make up our laws as we fell best with.

exiledonmainst said...

"Is Obama another idiot who believes in the Sky Fairy"

A good question for hatman.

Is Obama a liar who cynically exploits religion without believing a word of it, or is he a believer and thus, a credulous fool in the eyes of hatman?

My bet is he's the former. But being a cynical liar certainly has never hurt anybody's standing among liberals.

Luke Lea said...

How many are open to the possibility that their support of the idea of gay marriage might be misguided; that, for instance, so far from extending the benefits of society in this generation to excluded groups on arbitray grounds, it is actually undermining the long-term viability of our social institutions, thus denying those benefits to our posterity (all of them, not just a few)?

jr565 said...

"No one knows exactly what is on God's mind. (Minds?) Why shouldn't the interpretation of His word change each time you read it?


Thou shalt not kill. Maybe thou shall kill. Thou shall kill. I may be wrong about saying thou shalt not kill. I may be wrong about saying thou shall kill. IF you're that open minded about such questions, how are you not in fact a sociopath? And what values that we all have are not possibly based on cultural values that are ultimatly bigoted? Are the ones, not based on bigoted cultural values ones we should be closed minded on or should we be open minded to them too?

phx said...

That position is in essence repeating the the political wisdom that says, " half of my friends are against it and half of my friends are for it...I agree with my friends."

Another thought is to observe that is in essence lawlwssness. Because we make up our laws as we fell best with.


Some of you are way too satisfied with yourselves given the ridiculous conclusions you pull out of nowhere.

The position stated by Obama is self-evidently NOT like the cute "political wisdom" given.

And to call it "in essence lawlessness" when all it is a statement of humility, affirming the possibility of being wrong (and possibly never even knowing it) is foolish.

dbp said...

I think even then, Obama was setting up the possibility of "evolving" on the issue. Still, he makes a valid point--as long as it is not a one-way street: If a person who is against gay marriage is willing to admit they might be wrong, a pro-gay marriage person should also admit that they could be wrong too.

phx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

When Obama's ambassador met with God's he told him that he'll be able to be a lot more flexible after the election.

jr565 said...

"No one knows exactly what is on God's mind. (Minds?) Why shouldn't the interpretation of His word change each time you read it?


Thou shalt not kill. Maybe thou shall kill. Thou shall kill. I may be wrong about saying thou shalt not kill. I may be wrong about saying thou shall kill. IF you're that open minded about such questions, how are you not in fact a sociopath? And what values that we all have are not possibly based on cultural values that are ultimatly bigoted? Are the ones, not based on bigoted cultural values ones we should be closed minded on or should we be open minded to them too?

Don't Tread 2012 said...

Sorry folks, moral relativism is the symptom. Right and wrong are not 'evolving' concepts. Those that dispense of such foolishness are nakedly agenda-driven. If you are still confused, look up 'political expediency'.

If, after that, you still do not understand, no explanation is possible for you. Politicians are lousy advice dispensers.

You might as well go stand in line with the rest of your cattle brethren.

traditionalguy said...

Phx...Think it over. The right to change our laws when we want to is a democratic position. Is that arrogant?

Fence sitting is a long honored public tradition. Waiting for public opinions to change and then running to get back out ahead of followers to claim to be their "leader. is done every day" Leading from behind is the new phrase for it.

The impediment comes when a Law is also seen as God given and therefore unchangeable by man.

On that subject Obama and liberal Christian denominations agree 100%that man is an independent agent.

jr565 said...

Wouldn't the following also be true:
"[I]t is my obligation, not only as an elected official in a pluralistic society but also as a Christian, to remain open to the possibility that my willingness to support gay marriage is misguided..."


If you either support or don't support a position you can't remain open minded, unless you are constantly vacillating on whether you are right or wrong. Will there ever be a time where Obama's position is actually made up? And wont that be a time when his mind closes to the question and he ceases living up to his obligations to keep an open mind?

buster said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lem said...

"[I]t is my obligation, not only as an elected official in a pluralistic society but also as a Christian, to remain open to the possibility that my unwillingness to support my half brother George, living in a hut in Africa, is misguided..."

There.. fixed it for you.

Brian O'Connell said...

Marriage as an institution was doomed when the West changed its definition to a romantic one between 100 and 200 years ago. Most of its modern failures flow from that. To some extent, the growth of the federal government as stand-in for a husband (as with Julia) also flows from that change in definition- these two trends reinforce each other. Equal rights for women doesn't help either. In this context, gay marriage is a small footnote- it barely registers.

Now I support marriage as a choice and equal rights for women- but these aren't without trade-offs, apparently.

buster said...

jdniner said:

"Wouldn't it be better to ask everyone in the country that wanted to be married to have a civil union first, then consecrate a marriage in a church. And let each church celebrate the marriage in the fashion they see fit? Civil union would be regarding to affairs of people, marriage regarding affairs of God."

That begs the question. Suppose I show up at the civil union office and want to marry my mother or my cat. Presumably the State will disapprove. So the State will also have to decide whether to approve same-sex marriage. IOW, it's not (just) a religious problem.

Marriage is a crucial institution in any society because it is responsible for producing and acculturating children. (Sure, not all children are born and raised within marriages but, to the extent they are not, it is generally perceived to be a problem.

jr565 said...

Andy wrote:
It's cute when Althouse tries to have a discussion about something substantively interesting and it's impossible because so many of the commenters here respond with dumb blind Obama hatred.

ok, let's look at your support for gay marriage. Are you open to the fact that your position might be wrong and that you might be in the wrong side of history?
Also, if that were true how could there be any bigots when it came to opposition to gay marriage, since you could not be convinced that your position was right, and similarly couldn't be sure that those you called bigots were in fact wrong.

Lem said...

It's cute when Althouse tries to have a discussion about something substantively interesting and it's impossible because so many of the commenters here respond with dumb blind Obama hatred.

Since we been discussing it, Gay Marriage got divorce.

Lem said...

Wasserman, Chips girlfriend ;), just opened the Democrat Convention... and they cheaply decided to go with a DJ.

Ipso Fatso said...

No More Years!!! No More Years!!!! No More Years!!!!

bagoh20 said...

The brand new British Secretary of Health endorses homeopathy. Now that is some serious cost cutting. Imagine how much can be saved if you replace Merck with Perrier.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tomchiversscience/100179258/jeremy-hunt-health-secretary-thinks-homeopathy-works/

Darcy said...

I kind of liked the passage up until the "static text" part. I have struggled with applying what God has to say about homosexuality and whether that means that I should support laws/deny rights based on that. In other words, I think it is correct to wonder what Jesus would counsel here. I DO wonder.

God's word is very definitely static text, though. The idea that it is in need of updating subject to society's whims is silly. It is as relevant and clear today as it was when it was written.



phx said...

Phx...Think it over. The right to change our laws when we want to is a democratic position. Is that arrogant?

Fence sitting is a long honored public tradition. Waiting for public opinions to change and then running to get back out ahead of followers to claim to be their "leader. is done every day" Leading from behind is the new phrase for it.

The impediment comes when a Law is also seen as God given and therefore unchangeable by man.

On that subject Obama and liberal Christian denominations agree 100%that man is an independent agent.


Tradguy, read Obama's statement in order to clear up your confusion. He doesn't say anything in this statement about changing any laws. It's not about that. It's about "This is what I believe. I may in fact be wrong, but it's what I'm going with." Is that arrogant?

His statement here has nothing to do with fence sitting. Read it carefully. Maybe he's a fence sitter to you but that's not what this statement is about.

AJ Lynch said...

Bago:

Perrier??!! Even using much cheaper homeopathy, I doubt the IPAB will sping for brand name bottled water. Unless you agree to operate on yourself at home too.

Titus said...

I expect many vaginas, fags and blacks at this convention.

It won't be a pretty sight.

tits.

jr565 said...

Bagoh20 wrote:

The brand new British Secretary of Health endorses homeopathy. Now that is some serious cost cutting. Imagine how much can be saved if you replace Merck with Perrier.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tomchiversscience/100179258/jeremy-hunt-health-secretary-thinks-homeopathy-works/

that was just the sounds of crack's head exploding!

Lem said...

In the Living Word, hell is a tax not a penalty.

ha ha.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

"The idea that it is in need of updating subject to society's whims is silly. It is as relevant and clear today as it was when it was written."

Agree. Yes. But everyone's a lawyer in the 'New Age'.



jr565 said...

I have very serious doubts that Obama has ever been particularly religious or even had any serious objections to gay marriage. Both stances were merely adopted so that Obama could get elected.
As such, I don't think he's really so open minded about his ability to change his mind. There is a default position (the liberal one) that revelations will lead him to (ones he's always held) but does anyone really think his open mindedness would lead him back to the non liberal position, or that he's somehow open to the possibility that his economic policies might be disastrous? All this lip service to open mindedness is cover to lessen the damage if he were to ever state how he really feels and that might be unpopular. He's trying to have his cake and also eat it. However, you really can't do both.

This reminds me a bit of the example I brought up in the sex change thread of the person who had four sex change operations because s/he couldn't make up their minds about what sex they wanted to be. Either you are a man or a woman. If you later decide that no you are the other sex, then decide again the opposite way it makes you choice largely a meaningless one.you are changing from one to another because you are supposedly that other. If though you then change back, we're you really that other to begin with? You're really both and neither, and then idea of having to change your body parts to become that other sex, is not really worth the time.
If you're so open minded that you principled positions are open to self doubt at all times then why would you ever really have a stated position. Because your position wouldn't mean anything. Whatever position you came too you'd have to then second guess yourself and doubt it was the right one. There actually couldn't be a right position.
I

Don't Tread 2012 said...

"His statement here has nothing to do with fence sitting. Read it carefully. Maybe he's a fence sitter to you but that's not what this statement is about. "

phx, if its necessary to parse every nuanced phrase, aren't we really just participating in teh won's academic exercise? Which is bullshittery at its finest???

David R. Graham said...

"It's my understanding that "new revelations" can only come from God."

"New revelation" is the anabaptist heresy. Revelation is neither new nor old, it is revelation always the same. And when it occurs it is not knowledge in the sense of facts or data or words and does not falsify or even augment revelation received temporally previous. Revelation is not quantifiable. It's not an object, a thing over there or here. Nor is it a quality or qualify-able. Revelation is the absence of division. Its accompaniments are ecstasy and mystery.

When speaking of ultimates, as the word revelation indicates, it is not possible to say what they are, only what they are not. Anyone who says they know God or His Will is a lying lunatic.

Jean said...

Happy to see that the decadence festival held in New Orleans, Louisiana every year was moved. Where? To the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. One of the many saving graces of Hurrican Isaac.

Jean said...

Happy to see the decadence festival held in New Orleans, Louisiana every year has been moved. Where? To the Democratic National Convention, Charlotte, North Carolina. Thank you for one of many saving graces Hurricane Isaac.

sonicfrog said...

Titus...

You bugger!

I missed you! :-)

Brian O'Connell said...

Leviticus (that's the book with the gay stuff), Chapter 12:

1: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2: Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.
3: And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.
4: And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.
5: But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.
6: And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:
7: Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female.
8: And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.

Yep Darcy, just as relevant today as it was the day it was written.

The point of course, is that most of it is completely irrelevant. Modern Christians very much choose which parts of the Bible are relevant and which aren't. But you pretend that you aren't making this distinction. I doubt you spent much time after childbirth debating whether to sacrifice a lamb or pigeon of a turtledove. If you're spending much time debating homosexuality, don't blame the Bible- you've already dismissed most of it. It would be the easiest thing for you to add one or two more verses to the already-exisiting huge pile of irrelevance.

phx said...

phx, if its necessary to parse every nuanced phrase, aren't we really just participating in teh won's academic exercise? Which is bullshittery at its finest???

Don'tTread I'm not parsing every nuanced phrase but when I discuss a text or argue about or analyze it I am in the habit of giving it a decent "close read" so that I cut down my chance of not knowing WTF I'm talking about. It doesn't always work, I can be dense myself, but it's a good policy.

If I read something George W. Bush wrote for example, I try to understand it from those words first, not from the fact that I think he was a terrible president or other baggage that I have. That's a separate issue. I want to understand what he intended to say.

jr565 said...

Since Obama is not particularly religious (in my view)and has always been for gay marriage I actually read this as an attack on those christians who would be against gay marriage because of their christianity and they are bigoted for not agreeing with his position.
It should read
"... just as I cannot claim infallibility in my support of abortion rights you cannot claim infallibility in your support of pro life positions. I must admit that you may have been infected with society’s prejudices and predilections and attributed them to God; that Jesus’ call to love one another might demand a different conclusion; and that in years hence YOU may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history. I don’t believe such doubts make me YOU a bad Christian. I believe they make YOU human, limited in YOUR understandings of God’s purpose and therefore prone to sin."

that to me is the more accurate reading of what he is trying to say. It's yet more of the people clinging to their guns and religion rhetoric from Obama.

David R. Graham said...

"Obama is no Christian. He's a black politician who has ridden the back of Christianity to gain power."

Yes, Wright was quoted to that effect not long ago, or not long ago that I saw it. Can't remember the place. Fits experience.

One demurrer: a "black politician" who used his "white" component to insert and manipulate "white" left power structures. Now the internal vacuity, that of both his components, has caught up to him in the following seas becalming. Pray for a big, big blow job, he says, to outrun that damned sea. Allen West is a "black politician."

jr565 said...

Brian O'Connell wrote:
The point of course, is that most of it is completely irrelevant. Modern Christians very much choose which parts of the Bible are relevant and which aren't. But you pretend that you aren't making this distinction. I doubt you spent much time after childbirth debating whether to sacrifice a lamb or pigeon of a turtledove. If you're spending much time debating homosexuality, don't blame the Bible- you've already dismissed most of it. It would be the easiest thing for you to add one or two more verses to the already-exisiting huge pile of irrelevance.

Would you say the same thing if this were a discussion on things like Thou shalt not kill or Thou shalt not commit adultery?

Don't Tread 2012 said...

"I want to understand what he intended to say."

Intended?

Is his 'opinion' that critical to understand? Why?

wyo sis said...

" I believe they make me human, limited in my understandings of God’s purpose and therefore prone to sin. When I read the Bible, I do so with the belief that it is not a static text but the Living Word and that I must be continually open to new revelations — whether they come from a lesbian friend or a doctor opposed to abortion."        

If you want to know what God thinks is moral it would be smarter to ask God than the local lesbian or a doctor.

RonF said...

The last time my Episcopal parish hired a priest I was on the selection committee. In the Episcopal Church a parish publishes the fact that they are looking for a new priest and then does the hiring from a list of candidates who submit their resumes to and are approved by the Bishop.

We got 2 or 3 gay guys, a couple of women and a straight male. I asked them "We are often told that the Holy Spirit is moving individuals or moving the Church in a specific direction or to do a specific thing. How can you tell whether or not spiritual inspiration is from the Holy Spirit and not some other more malign spirit?"

The only straightforward answer I got - from one of the female candidates - was "If it does not contradict scripture." Makes sense to me.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Darcy: I have struggled with applying what God has to say about homosexuality and whether that means that I should support laws/deny rights based on that. In other words, I think it is correct to wonder what Jesus would counsel here. I DO wonder.

Why don't you have the same struggle with slavery? God's law has no problem with it, why do you have? When you've answered that question, your struggle with reconciling legal tolerance and legal acceptance of homosexuality will be resolved as well.

Bender said...

When I read the Bible, I do so with the belief that it is not a static text but the Living Word

Christianity is not a religion of the book. Scripture is indeed dynamic and rich with many layers of revelation, but the Living Word is not ink on a page, rather the Living Word of God, the Logos, is Jesus Christ Himself.

The Word is a He, not an it, and Christianity is about an encounter and relationship with Him who is Love and Truth in person.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

"Modern Christians very much choose which parts of the Bible are relevant and which aren't."

What to do with this.

The term 'Modern Christians" as I believe you intend is a very broad stroke of the brush. Upshot: not all Christians are the same.

Christians, loosely stated, believe in the New Testament and the gospel, which indeed supercedes and satisfies the old way (Levitical/Old Testament).
Christ, the Lamb, the New Covenant.

So yes, its silly to think anyone should sacrifice animals anymore. That doesn't mean its irrelevant, however...

Bender said...

The travails of commenting before reading others who have already made the same point before you have.

Brian O'Connell said...

"Would you say the same thing if this were a discussion on things like Thou shalt not kill or Thou shalt not commit adultery?"

No I would not- but that's exactly my point: some parts of the Bible are relevant, but most are not. Christians are using judgment that comes from outside the Bible to judge what parts of the Bible are relevant and which are not. If your sole source of judgment was the Bible itself, then all of it would be morally relevant.

Since obviously much of it is outdated Bronze Age nonsense, you must be using a non-Biblical source to judge the Bible. Then Christians claim this limited subsection of the Bible as the source. But that wasn't the source. Society's changing norms was- and is- the moral source, and you cite the ever-diminishing overlap between that and the Bible as the authority.

chickelit said...

Brian O'Connell opined: Modern Christians very much choose which parts of the Bible are relevant and which aren't. But you pretend that you aren't making this distinction.

The worst are posers like O'Connell who can't even parse the difference between the New and the Old Testaments, preferring to lump them together because something offends a sacred cow of his own.

chickelit said...

The DNC Convention is on now. Althouse has stated that gay rights are not a key issue:

No. That's wrong. I never said that and I don't think gay rights is a key presidential issue.

link

Move along now

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Don't Tread 2012:So yes, its silly to think anyone should sacrifice animals anymore.

Where does it say that animal sacrifices are off? For Gentiles they were never required, but I know of nothing that the Law was suspended for Jews.

phx said...

Is his 'opinion' that critical to understand? Why?

Regardless of your opinion of the man, that brief text is, IMO, very interesting. What he's written might be a given for some people, it might be arguable for others. But it's definitely not your run-of-the-mill sound byte.

I respond because I recognize it right away as a kind of intellectual/spiritual milestone that I've gone through myself, and I can quickly recall issues and situations that helped me to arrive at a similar understanding. It's about coming to peace as best you can with your own ignorance, with the very real uncertainty that characterizes much of life.

You think he's bullshitting. It doesn't really matter to me. Those words aren't bullshit in themselves, because I went there myself.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

"Then Christians claim..."

Dropped the big brush and opted for the spray gun???

Synova said...

"In defense of Barack Obama, every Christian has been doing this since the first century A. D.

That's why there's thousands of different Christian sects--the Bible is not unambiguous, reasonable people can interpret it differently, and social mores change.
"


The difference, rightly divided, *I* think is in the one case the text is not static and there is new revelation and in the other the text is inerrant and the understanding of the text open to question.

It's a different thing to say that God's word changes than it is to say that my understanding changes.


phx said...

If you want to know what God thinks is moral it would be smarter to ask God than the local lesbian or a doctor.

What if God was one of us?

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Don't Tread 2012:Then Christians claim this limited subsection of the Bible as the source.

The vast majority of Christians are not following every precept in every part of the Bible, and everyone knows it. The vast majority of Christians have declared some parts to be superseded, as everyone admits. That hundreds of Christian sects exist with different interpretations of what parts are still in effect and what they mean, is undisputed.

So your objection makes no sense whatever.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

"Where does it say that animal sacrifices are off? For Gentiles they were never required, but I know of nothing that the Law was suspended for Jews."

The modern Jews I know (orthodox or liberal) do not practice animal sacrifice as described in the Old Testament of the Bible.

They also do not wear sheepskin, ride mules or tend to flocks of sheep.

Dave said...

"I do believe this falls under the Althouse tag of "civility bullshit."

Thanks for mentioning this. I had never heard it, so I googled "civility bullshit" and found her dismissal of civil discourse on the internet, etc. Interesting -

It explains so many of her topic choices which seem to be chosen to elicit the sort of hyperbolic, uninformed rants that make up the majority of responses. I described what she does to a friend like "chumming" for sharks - throwing bloody meat in the water to get them excited. Clever woman - hope she's making money on this as it serves no other useful purpose.

Synova said...

"But that wasn't the source. Society's changing norms was- and is- the moral source, and you cite the ever-diminishing overlap between that and the Bible as the authority."

I don't think I'd be so quick to throw out the whole notion of Natural Law with the God's Law bathwater.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Synova:It's a different thing to say that God's word changes than it is to say that my understanding changes.

In theory, it would be, but in practice, it isn't, because what counts as God's word depends on your understanding. For you, for example, the Quran and the Book of Mormon don't count (I assume).

Catholics and Protestants and Orthodox do not even have the same Bible, and even the Old Testament is different for Jews, not to mention Samaritans.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

"@Don't Tread 2012:Then Christians claim this limited subsection of the Bible as the source. "

@Brian O'Connell: "Then Christians claim this limited subsection of the Bible as the source. "

//fixed

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Don't Tread 2012:The modern Jews I know (orthodox or liberal) do not practice animal sacrifice as described in the Old Testament of the Bible.

They have no temple in which to do so. When they do, they'll need to, because the Law was not abolished.

The whole point at issue is, can you justify why your practice is different from the prescription? you've established you can't. Snarking about other people's practice doesn't get you there, sir.

chickelit said...

phx said...
What if God was one of us?

Alanis, is that you?

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Don't Tread: I was responding to your "spray gun" comment. Sure would be nice to see a substantive response. It seems you don't know the Bible that well and are reluctant to demonstrate it. I'd suggest facing the argument head on, and educating yourself if you don't know the answers. It's not like there hasn't been thousands of years of commentary of which you could avail yourself.

Synova said...

Dave, the *reason* for her dismissal of civil discourse and the genesis of "civility bullshit" is the way that calls for civility are usually a demand that the other side (conservatives) shut up.

It's not "be civil", it's "shut up."

And the lies are so obvious because when liberals get called on the civility bull shit "you just said that Tea Partiers are racists and want to destroy the country" the answer to this lowering of discourse is invariably "that's not uncivil, it's just the truth!"

So the self-serving bull shit goes on.

Bender said...

I think it is correct to wonder what Jesus would counsel here

No need to wonder. He would say "love one another as I have loved you" and "the truth will set you free."

Don't Tread 2012 said...

@Gabriel Hanna

If you can't snark with perfect strangers who can you snark with ;)

I just love the broad brushery, assumptions and so forth that goes on when folks talk about the Bible, Christians, etc.

So much judgement from the crowd that loves to crow about tolerance and civility. Its all very selective, no?

exiledonmainst said...

Dave, once again, you entirely miss the point.

The same people who stayed mum or applauded when Letterman joked about Palin's daughter being raped, when Michelle Malkin was called "a mashed up bag of meat with lipstick," when Romney was accused of, in essence, murdering someone are the same people who call for "civility" when it's their Holy One who is being ridiculed.

That's why it's "civility bullshit."

If you can point me to some posts where you call out the left, or leftist posters here, on their lack of civility, I won't think of you as a sniveling hypocrite.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Don;t Tread 2012:I just love the broad brushery

If someone is painting with a broad brush, you can demonstrate that, sir, by pointing out the exceptions.

So you will, no doubt, provide evidence that the majority of Christians do obey Mosaic Law, or provide the passages in Scripture that explicitly repeal it and show that most Christians refer to it? No, you can't, snark is all you have then? Noted.

Bender said...

"New revelation" is the anabaptist heresy.

New revelation, that is, the idea that God changes His mind, that He makes true today what was false yesterday, is an Islamic idea. It is Allah who is the self-contradictory god, not the God of Abraham and Jesus, who is Truth and Reason itself.

Meade said...

The big lie is that he attributes anything at all to God. Both his parents were atheists. He doesn't believe in God. He believes in himself and nothing else.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Don't Tread 2012:So much judgement from the crowd that loves to crow about tolerance and civility.

Are liberal pundits posting at Althouse?

Oh, I see. Anyone who disagrees with you on the Bible must have been a liberal calling for "civility"? That's your tribalism talking, that's not based on anything anyone has said here.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

@Gabriel Hanna

Having a bad day? I wish you well.

Brian O'Connell said...

"The worst are posers like O'Connell who can't even parse the difference between the New and the Old Testaments, preferring to lump them together because something offends a sacred cow of his own."

I understand the difference between the OT and the NT.

Is it your understanding that the existence of the NT invalidates the OT altogether, or that the NT supersedes the OT only when they're in conflict? In which case, it would be a fair question to ask, which part of the NT supersedes Leviticus 12 and its turtledove sacrificing bit?

Or if the OT isn't relevant full stop, why is it included in the Christian Bible at all?

Seems to me one of these possibilities must be true for each Christian, even if different ones have different answers.

Yes, I'm speaking broadly of Christians, but I don't think I'm doing so unfairly. If you believe the Bible is relevant today, you must hold one of these positions, right? How do you support the parts of the Bible that talk negatively about gay issues and at the same time dismiss the obvious irrelevance of Leviticus 12?

Synova said...

"That begs the question. Suppose I show up at the civil union office and want to marry my mother or my cat. Presumably the State will disapprove. So the State will also have to decide whether to approve same-sex marriage. IOW, it's not (just) a religious problem."

Well... maybe not your cat but only because a cat can't enter into a contract.

But why assume sex?

There is no reason at all to insist that "civil union" have a romantic dimension. Perhaps you do want to "marry" your mother so that she can get your legal and health benefits and be a legal guardian for your children as part of that. If you want to be a single legal/financial entity with another person, there may well be situations where it's going to be someone "odd" and who should really care about that?

There is also not any particular reason to limit it to two people, other than increased complexity.

But maybe my opinion is skewed by reading science fiction where "marriage contracts" are expressed as "Two year basic contract with a reproduction rider."

jr565 said...

Yes, I'm speaking broadly of Christians, but I don't think I'm doing so unfairly. If you believe the Bible is relevant today, you must hold one of these positions, right? How do you support the parts of the Bible that talk negatively about gay issues and at the same time dismiss the obvious irrelevance of Leviticus 12?

How would you justify believing in things like judge not lest ye be judged, or thou shalt not kill, if we similarly dismss the obvious irrelevance of Leviticus 12?

Bender said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kentuckyliz said...

As a freedom-loving citizen and a working professional woman and a Christian, I can say that my unwillingness to support 0bama is entirely divinely revealed by God, not subject to the meddling of lesbians and doctors.

Bender said...

Is there nothing to still be learned, no revelations of value or validity, in considering the various regulations and rituals, such as those pertaining to ritual purification, which no longer need to be followed?

If they are no longer obligatory (and they are not), then what was God's purpose in implementing these rules in the first place?

Were these merely arbitrary rules lacking in any reasoned justification?

Or, maybe, did God have a long-term purpose in mind, were those long-abandoned rituals always intended by Him to be merely prepatory to something else, were they always merely steps in the journey and not the final destination?

And how in the world could those ancient backwards people have so much infinitely more sophistication, so as to understand that it is the latter, than the oh-so-smart people who come here and try to snark and play gotcha with scripture and God Himself??

AllenS said...

I'm certainly no Biblical expert, but when slave are mentioned in the Bible, could that word also mean servant?

For instance, in Romans 1 Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ and called to be an apostle, separated to God's good news

In this instance, I don't think that the word slave means what is now consider to be associated with slavery.

Brian O'Connell said...

How would you justify believing in things like judge not lest ye be judged, or thou shalt not kill, if we similarly dismss the obvious irrelevance of Leviticus 12?

I never claimed a Biblical justification, so it's no problem for me. It would be a problem for people who cite the Bible sometimes, but who ignore it usually- which considering what it actually says, has to be most people. It's not possible to live a normal 21st century American life while adhering to all of the Bible's rules.

Now don't get me wrong. I appreciate *very much* that I live in Western civilization, which has improved over the centuries to some degree due to Christianity. We're not ancient Rome. But much of that Christian influence comes from traditions outside the Bible, or from areas in which the Bible is contradictory. This is my point. Christians are largely using a non-Biblical source to judge the Bible. What use this middle man?


Crunchy Frog said...

Obama: Being out of alignment with my values.

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Crunchy Frog said...

Is it your understanding that the existence of the NT invalidates the OT altogether, or that the NT supersedes the OT only when they're in conflict? In which case, it would be a fair question to ask, which part of the NT supersedes Leviticus 12 and its turtledove sacrificing bit?

Hebrews.

Dave said...

"exiledonmainst said...
Dave, once again, you entirely miss the point..... If you can ... I won't think of you as a sniveling hypocrite."

OK, to clarify - I didn't "miss" your point - I have spent very little time on this or any blog, so I'd never heard of "civility bullshit." My impression is that the concept is simply a way to dismiss appeals for more constructive conversation.

However, as you close by challenging me to prove to you that I'm not a "sniveling hypocrite" - I can't think why I would care what you think of me.

It IS interesting that you chose to ignore my suggestion that the only purpose of this blog is to enrich Althouse by reputation, fame, or fortune. In order to keep people all excited and engaged she cherry-picks posts that feed into the prejudices and pre-conceptions of the majority. In other words you're being played - PAX

Rabel said...

I've read a fair amount of Obama's writing in Dreams and Audacity throught the Amazon preview feature.

And I am simply unable to reconcile the thoughtful, insightful and often humble man I see in those writings with the small, shallow and egotistical ass I have seen during his time in office.

Three possibilities come to mind:

I have misjudged the live version of Obama that I've watched and listened to the last few years.

The Obama who wrote the books was a conniver and manipulator of near pathological dimensions.

Obama didn't write the books.

rhhardin said...

Coleridge wrote of "moral discoveries" disparagingly.

jr565 said...

Brian O'Connell wrote:
I never claimed a Biblical justification, so it's no problem for me. It would be a problem for people who cite the Bible sometimes, but who ignore it usually- which considering what it actually says, has to be most people. It's not possible to live a normal 21st century American life while adhering to all of the Bible's rules.

Leviticus from what I understand applies to Jews, but not to Christians. Much of the sacrifices offered to god are fulfilled through Christs' death and so are no longer relevant as requirements.
However, some other things in Leviticus forbids incest and bestiality. Shall we forget those as irrelevant.Chapter 20 forbids Child sacrifice. Shall we forget that as irrelevant (oh, wait, many already have).

Crunchy Frog said...

The system of sacrifices set up in leviticus/numbers/deuteronomy was a royal pain in the ass to the jews, without question.

It was designed to be.

a) it was a very real consequence of disobeying God's commands, however arbitrary
b) it served to keep the Isrealites separate from their pagan neighbors, thus preserving the bloodline from Abraham to Jesus
c) it provided a stark contrast, illustrated in Hebrews, of the imperfect sacrificial system in the OT versus the perfect sacrifice of Jesus in the NT

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."

Synova said...


"In this instance, I don't think that the word slave means what is now consider to be associated with slavery."

I've wondered if the modern equivalent usage would be "employee".

Granted, an employee without the ability to quit his job before his term is up; but that describes the more or less normal economic relationships in a number of Historical cultures.

It's also in the context of debt-slavery and the concept of a year of Jubilee.

Historically "you're a slave your whole life and your children too forever" is an unusual definition of "slave". Or so I've been told.

The government owns our labor from January until sometime in April (no?) and I don't think it's a stretch at all to call that slavery. We've no choice. We can't just sit out January until April and then work voluntarily when it's for ourselves. An employee actually has a choice of who to work for an employer and is free to offer his or her labor for compensation.

The government gets your labor just because other people decided they own you.

Brian O'Connell said...

"Leviticus from what I understand applies to Jews, but not to Christians....

However, some other things in Leviticus forbids incest and bestiality."

So does that mean that Christians are allowed to....

Well, it's all rather lawyerly. Best to you use your own judgement.

AllenS said...

My earliest forefather came to this country in 1630 and was an indentured servant. He had to work for years to become a freeman. Later, the government decided: "Hey, why don't we just tax the fuckers?" Not really making them slaves, per se, but indentured solely to collect money from their work. You're correct, Synova.

Meade said...

"My earliest forefather came to this country in 1630 and was an indentured servant."

Mine too. To Virginia. Had to ship his tobacco crop back to the king of Prussia for seven years to fulfill his contract. Married a Cherokee woman whose name was not Elizabeth Warren.

hombre said...

So he's the embodiment of the Founders and God. We are truly blessed.

Ralph L said...

Well my earliest certain ancestor, Seth Ward, arrived in 1619, so pfft!

Since he bought 60 acres below Richmond in 1634, I assume he wasn't too poor. The previous inhabitants had been massacred by Elizabeth Warren in 1622.

He may have been related to another Ward who was an Ancient Planter, meaning he arrived before 1616.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@AllenS and Synova: No, in the Bible slave means slave. A human being, bought and sold. If you hired someone, they had another word for that. The Bible clearly distinguishes the concepts.

Slavery in the ancient world was not race-based like it was in the American South, anyone could be a slave, but children of slaves, insolvent debtors, and prisoners of war could count on being slaves. Slaves could buy their freedom, if they were allowed to earn any money. They could be freed. Slavery was what the ancient world had instead of bankruptcy.

The Torah has detailed regulations on how you can treat slaves, distinguishing Hebrew slaves from slaves of other peoples. It also has regulations on how you treat people whom you have hired.

And here you both are, illustrating my point. Confronted with the plain meaning, you tried to make it a metaphor or an analogy.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@jr565: Much of the sacrifices offered to god are fulfilled through Christs' death and so are no longer relevant as requirements.

Where is that in the Bible? I keep asking, and getting no answers.

I ask of course because I know the answer. It ain't there.

Ralph L said...

Ancient Planters also had to have paid their own passage and stayed 3 years. They had lower taxes than later arrivals.

jr565 said...

Brian o'donnell wrote:

"Leviticus from what I understand applies to Jews, but not to Christians....

However, some other things in Leviticus forbids incest and bestiality."

So does that mean that Christians are allowed to....

Well, it's all rather lawyerly. Best to you use your own judgement.



So, you're arguing that incest and bestiality should be left up to ones own judgement?
It is rather lawyerly as it deals with things one should or should not do.
A bit of info for you, the books of Leviticus are actuall broken up into divisions of law, civil, ceremonial and moral. It's the moral laws that things like incest and homosexuality fall under. The civil,and ceremonial applied to Jews only, but the moral in factt applied to all.

The civil,laws expired with the demise of the Jewish civil,govt, the ceremonial expired With the fulfillment of Christs work (I.e. you no longer need to sacrifice animals since Jesus died for our sins etc)?

For the moral laws there is no expiration because they are based on The character of God " you shall be holy because I am holy"

The lord says of the civil and ceremonial " speak to the Sons of Israel saying..." which refers to Jews alone.
However, the moral aspects are abominations for both Jews and non Jews alike, and this remain do for Christians.
god says the following concerning these abominations:
Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled ‘For the land has become defiled, therefore I have visited its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants. But as for you, you are to keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not do any of these abominations, neither the native, nor the alien who sojourns among you (for the men of the land who have been before you have done all these abominations, and the land has become defiled); so that the land may not spew you out, should you defile it, as it has spewed out the nation which has been before you. ‘For whoever does any of these abominations, those persons who do so shall be cut off from among their people. ‘Thus you are to keep My charge, that you do not practice any of the abominable customs which have been practiced before you, so as not to defile yourselves with them; I am the Lord your God.’"



The civil and ceremonial laws apply again only to Jews, the moral,laws apply to all nations. As Christians are not Jews, they do not have to follow the ceremonies of the Jews.
But abominations ae the same across the board.

This is not necessarily my own personal opinion (though of course I would argue that things like incest are objectively wrong and not left up to our judgement), I'm just laying out why parts of Leviticus doesn't apply to,Christians. The moral parts though do.

JAL said...

It's not possible to live a normal 21st century American life while adhering to all of the Bible's rules.

Define normal. Hooking up? Lying to the IRS?

The point was no one could adhere to all the rules even way back when.

The point being that's why Christ came.

JAL said...

I mean it's more than rules against hooking up or lying.

It's an issue of the heart.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@jr565:The civil,laws expired with the demise of the Jewish civil,govt, the ceremonial expired With the fulfillment of Christs work.

Where in the Bible does it say that?

Bender said...

in Romans 1 Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ and called to be an apostle, separated to God's good news
In this instance, I don't think that the word slave means what is now consider to be associated with slavery.


One thing that you can be sure of is that Paul does not mean that he belongs to the government.

But that is exactly what the Democrats are explicitly and proudly saying tonight in their convention video "Government Is The Only Thing We All Belong To".

The Godfather said...

Gabriel Hanna wants to know where in the Bible it says that OT law no longer applies to Christians.

It's late where I am, and I need to sleep, so here's the short answer: Most of the Pauline Epistles spend a lot of time explaining this. If you read them and still have questions, then, as the Magic 8 Ball says: "Ask again".

JAL said...

"Where does it say that animal sacrifices are off? For Gentiles they were never required, but I know of nothing that the Law was suspended for Jews."

Re the Jews -- no temple, no sacrifices. Also with The Diaspora, no priests to offer the sacrifices.

Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD.

wyo sis said...

Matthew 5:17-18, and Ephesians 2:15

Bender said...

As with the various purification rituals, as stated above, animal and grain sacrifice in Salvation History leading up to Christ were also always meant to be temporary. They were always meant to be preparatory, to be prophetic signs of something yet to come.

This is made clear by God Himself, who repeatedly said that He had no use for the sacrifices. A few examples are --

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifice of God is a contrite heart: A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:16-17 (the Miserere))

Sacrifice and offering you do not want; but ears open to obedience you gave me. Holocausts and sin-offerings you do not require. (Psalm 40:6)

Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. (1 Sam 15:22-23)

For it is love/mercy that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than holocausts. (Hosea 6:6)

The long history of animal and grain sacrifice in Israel was merely a prelude and prefiguration for the sacrifice made by Jesus, the Lamb of God, on the Cross and for our own personal sacrifice of self, that is, making the gift of sacrificial love for God and one another (agape), that total and perfect love whereby one sacrifices himself for the sake of the other, one gives of himself and puts the other before him and his wants.

Lindsey Meadows said...

From George Romney's beststeller "Greed is a Good Thing"

(page 33, paragraph 2, Adonis Press, Boston 1999)

There is so much to do and God has put me here to do it. I know. I have received the message to go forth regardless of what common folk may think or feel. I am the living embodiment of His will and by gosh it will be done (hahaha! Anne says I'm so darn funny!).

Just this morning Anne was talking about me giving politics another try and I realized that God had indeed sent me a revised memo on life to lead the people ("you people" as Anne calls them) and although God pre-destined me to a life of wealth and greed (Greed is GOOD!), He adapts to the world as it is as He is a living, breathing God and ... well you get the idea.

Enough writing today. I must run and I must run whatever it is to run. Run run run.

Bender said...

The Old Testament way was always just a prelude. Instead of outward appearances, laws written on stone kept in an ark of the covenant, God would instead dwell within people and write his law, which is nothing other than the law of love and truth, upon their hearts --

The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant and I had to show myself their master, says the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD. I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
No longer will they have need to teach their friends and kinsmen how to know the LORD. All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the LORD, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.
(Jer 31:31-34)

I will gather you from the nations and assemble you from the countries over which you have been scattered, and I will restore to you the land of Israel. They shall return to it and remove from it all its detestable abominations. I will give them a new heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove the stony heart from their bodies, and replace it with a natural heart, so that they will live according to my statutes, and observe and carry out my ordinances; thus they shall be my people and I will be their God. . . .
I will take you away from among the nations, gather you from all the foreign lands, and bring you back to your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts. I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees. You shall live in the land I gave your fathers; you shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your impurities . . . Then you shall remember your evil conduct, and that your deeds were not good; you shall loathe yourselves for your sins and your abominations.
(Ez 11:17-20; 36:24-31)

I will pour out my spirit upon all mankind. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; Even upon the servants and the handmaids, in those days, I will pour out my spirit. (Joel 3:1-2)

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