This Evil Force Can Be Seen Moving Through Time– IV: The Spirit of War

horsemen of the apocalypse
Choosing Conflict over Cooperation

In accordance with the Spirit of the Lie, the South has long represented itself as the victim of the Civil War, giving it the name “the War of Northern Aggression.” That’s not how it was. 1) It was not that way in the political struggles of 1848-61 that polarized the nation and led to the war. And 2) that is not the way it was in the series of events that precipitated the horrific armed conflict.

1) In the decade leading up to the Civil War, it was clearly the South that was on the offensive. While there may have been demographic and economic tides moving against the South and its “peculiar institution” of slavery, at every crucial turn of those years, it was the Southerners who were trying to expand the power and extent of slavery, not just defend what was already in place. This can be seen in the terms of the Fugitive Slave Law, the Kansas-Nebraska Act (which did away with the Missouri Compromise that had stabilized the conflict for more than three decades), the fraud of the Lecompton constitution to impose a minority’s will in Kansas, the Dred Scott decision, etc.

The South continually escalated the conflict and drove the polarization of the nation. The polarizing figures in the South were treated as mainstream, while those in the North – the abolitionists – were the targets of considerable hostility even in the North. The North was basically re-active. Lincoln re-entered politics in response to the Kansas-Nebraska Act. And it was only at the very end of the decade, after the passions of the North had been ignited by events, that John Brown made his Harper’s Ferry raid that sparked so much polarizing passion.

It is clear, then, that the main impetus toward making the issue of slavery one that divided the nation into conflicting and soon-to-be warring sections came from the South. It was the South who found no room for compromise, and the South that pressed the battle.

Then there is the question of which side chose war at the end of this process of escalating polarization.

The immediate issue over which the war was fought was the right of states to secede from the Union. Southerners believed they had such a right. The duly elected president, Abraham Lincoln, believed they did not. The issue was debatable. What is not debatable, however, is the legality and acceptability of the South’s way of dealing with the disagreement.

When citizens believe the president wrong, they have two constitutional recourses. 1) They can work to replace him in the next election. Or, 2) they can take the matter to the Supreme Court, which is the ultimate arbiter of what the Constitution allows and forbids. The South did neither, but instead unilaterally decided the issue and pronounced themselves ready to defend their interpretation by force of arms.

In the American constitutional system, there was no equality of legal status between the secessionists and the president. The president is empowered by the Constitution to be the executor of the laws and the defender of the Constitution. Part of his job is to decide what that means, and that responsibility gives him a status far beyond that of citizens generally.

So while secession itself might or might not be outlawry, but the manner of the South’s seceding was not only high-handed and provocative, but clearly illegal. Their conduct manifests a spirit so insistent on achieving its own will that it refused to abide by the order to which the Southerners, like other Americans, had bound themselves.

Such insistence, such violation of the order, was outlawry. And the South’s willingness to wage war to defend its unilateral determination of its rights in itself represented – even prior to the firing on Fort Sumter – a declaration of war.

We see that same spirit of war in our times– expressing itself from the right, with the Republican Party as its instrument.

Our politics in these times are more thoroughly conflictual than at any time in living memory, perhaps indeed more so than any time since the era of the Civil War.) With respect to this political pathology, no clear-eyed observer can doubt that it is the Republican Party that has chosen to make our politics almost all-out conflict.

Politics in a democracy is always a combination of inter-party competition, in which the actors seek advantage in the quest for power, and inter-party cooperation to serve the national good. Clearly, the Republicans have chosen to discard the usual balance and to make a fight over virtually everything. Two junctures will illustrate this clear truth.

First, in 2002, the Republicans chose conflict over cooperation when the Bush gang used the war on terror to divide Americans for political advantage. At the very time that the national trauma of 9/11 had prompted the Democratic Party, then in opposition, to rally round the president for the sake of national unity, the Republican president chose to use that same national emergency as a weapon against the other party.

The idea for a Department of Homeland Security had originated with Democrats. After resisting the idea for months, that Republican president – George W. Bush — put forward a bill to establish the department. But he did it in a way that that cast aside national unity for partisan warfare. Not only did the Republican president appropriate a Democratic idea, but he also set a trap for the Democrats – by putting an irrelevant poison pill into the measure – into voting against it so that they could be flogged for being “soft on terror” in the upcoming midterm elections.

That the Republicans are animated by the spirit of conflict over cooperation was equally clear in 2009, when now out of power they made it their top priority not to get Americans back to work but rather to make the president fail. Again and again, the Republicans fought against ideas that had been theirs before a Democratic president proposed them—from the form of health care reform to cap and trade as a market-based means of dealing with climate change. The Republican efforts to sabotage health care reform – repealing it 50 times, thwarting its implementation, etc. – is perhaps unprecedented in the history of American politics.

When the Republican Party took over many statehouses in the elections of 2010, once again it showed its predilection for strife. While the great majority of Americans were united in their desire to have government help create jobs, these Republican state governments chose instead to stir up renewed conflict on the one issue on which it is clear the nation has irreconcilable divisions. Upsetting a long-standing truce of sorts, achieved for example by the Hyde Amendment, and ignoring the great pain in the country over the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression, the GOP chose to make sure that Americans would become embattled with each other, once again, over the issue of abortion.

If, as Jesus said, it is the peacemakers who are blessed, then the opposite of peacemakers must be driven by a spirit that is the opposite of blessed. It creates brokenness in a nation. A political party that makes a fight over everything cripples the nation’s ability to solve its problems and meet its challenges. It degrades the country. Making politics into a form of warfare is destructive, and a political force that insists on destructiveness reveals the evil nature of the spirit that animates it.

The Transmission of the Patterns

This pattern of resemblance between the spirit that animated the South many generations ago and that which animates the Republican Party in our times could be elaborated in great detail. Each of these resemblances could be fleshed out with extensive documentation, and other important additional lines could be adduced. (These additional parallels include, for example, an impetus to undermine democracy and a tendency toward self-destruction – damaging or destroying those very institutions, values, and goals that the actors themselves proclaim themselves to be working to protect and advance.)

In both eras, we see a Spirit of War, a Spirit of the Lie, and a Spirit of (sometimes sadistic) Dominance. Behind these is the unifying element: the Spirit of Brokenness, a coherent force that works continually do damage whatever is whole within its reach.

In each case, also, the workings of that spirit depend upon a mutually reinforcing coherence of elements at different levels of the cultural system. These levels range from that of a power structure, which serves as the visible instrument of the force, to the level of the individual psyche whose habits of thought and feeling have been molded to be manipulable in service of the animating “evil spirit.” Such a force can fully embed itself in the multi-layered cultural system.

My own moment of recognizing the persistence and importance of such patterns came in 2004. That is when I saw how that manipulative genius, Karl Rove, effected his seduction of many traditionalist Americans, employing an old pattern used a century before to seduce poor whites in the Jim Crow South.

In the Jim Crow South, and now again in Karl Rove’s America, the leaders inflame passions around peripheral issues to distract their supporters from what the leaders are really doing with their power. A century ago, the hot-button distraction was racial purity. In our times, the leaders on the right have whipped people up about issues of moral purity.

In both cases, unjust leaders use deception to exacerbate divisions useful to magnifying their own power and wealth. They inflame antagonisms between groups of people, thus preventing them from making common cause to protect their vital interests. Like magicians, they focus attention on issues peripheral to the real action – the theft of wealth and power – so that their audience will not notice what’s really going on.

But it is not just the conduct of the leading power that can be inferred to be part of this ongoing cultural pattern. In the followers, too, there has been inculcated a psychological structure into which such a pattern of manipulation as Karl Rove took off the shelf will fit, giving leverage to the manipulations from the power system.

The question of how these patterns manage to perpetuate themselves is one worthy of separate discussion. Suffice it for now to say that every culture is many-dimensional (social structure, power relations, cultural symbols, psychic structure), and that the different levels reinforce each other – in some ways for wholeness, in some for brokenness – through institutions and communications and family structure and socialization.

Whether ascendant or lurking in the cultural interstices, old patterns tend to persist. In the case of the spirit that drove the South into the Civil War, it was never truly extirpated. Dark patterns lurk in the system, like some dormant virus, ready to erupt when the culture’s immune system weakens.

Another question that warrants separate treatment is why it is that sometimes the power of the Spirit of Wholeness is ascendant, and sometimes it is the worst angels of a people’s nature that comes to the fore. Later in this series, we will look at how and why it is that America’s “immune system” has weakened, allowing this old pathological virus of destruction to return to center stage of American politics and wreak havoc on our nation.

However we answer that question, however, what’s important here is to recognize what the profound parallels between these eras show. Perceiving the same pattern in these two important eras –- our present crisis, and the crisis that led to the Civil War —- can be revelatory just like with the images in the Magic Eye books: out of the stereoscopic image, a startling figure emerges with depth out of a new dimension.

We can see, first, that we are indeed up against something that is much more than the sum of its parts. It is a coherent entity that has a consistent, destructive impact. It is that entity – not just its manifestations – on which we should focus our attention. The better we perceive our foe, the better able we will be to defeat it.

And we can see, second, something important about how the human world works. Beneath the level of concrete events and people that make the daily news, there are deeper forces operating. They may not be visible to our usual way of seeing, but they are crucially important. Indeed, I would say that these forces and patterns are the main shapers of our world, of us, and of our destiny.

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  1. Richard H. Randall

    Outstanding essay Andy. In the initial paragraphs, I ‘saw’ the connection between the sense of ‘persecution’ arising in the South, and that which exists now in the GOP/extreme right wing. I hear the whine, from the anti-tax people, that the left wants to punish the wealthy for ‘being successful.’ I’m sure other readers can find many more examples. I’m going to think on this issue today.

  2. There are two metaphors in this article that I find compelling. The first is of Karl Rove, the Machiavellian genius, as a magician, who uses slight of hand to shunt our attention away from what is really important (democratic principles, fairness) and redirect it toward what is peripheral (culture wars). The second is of a weakness in the American immune system. Extreme polarization has weakened our immunity. I think back to Watergate and Iran-Contra, when Republicans of integrity, as well as Democrats, sought to stem and censure the abuses of power of two Republican presidents, Nixon and Reagan. In today’s world, no Republican leader that I know of seeks to stem any abuse of power, so long as it is to their advantage, no matter how flagrant and/or destructive it is. Maybe there are still some moderates out there, but I’ll be damned if I can name one at the moment. Perhaps McCain, but he is so erratic.

  3. I must agree with Richard H. Randall, this is a great essay. But then I need to add for David R, David R, coming out of nowhere at you without you having said a word on this topic, I encourage you to try not taking any of this personally. The main thing here is actual history, and while I know relatively little myself about the South and don’t pretend to, I trust Dr. Schmookler’s scholarship. You were not there through all of that, so very old as I know that you are. You are in a much different society now, a society that flowed partially from Southern history, taking different directions along the way as societies with outside contact are wont to do. I do NOT mean to be presumptuous here, just pointing out what might or might not have been your first thought whether or not you were about to say anything. Or maybe this was letting you and everyone else know that I am not mixed up about this one. 🙂


    • I appreciate, Larry, your looking out for David R., here. Your solicitude for his feelings is fitting, as I know from previous postings that he does indeed believe that the Civil War is well named “The War of Northern Aggression.” I have no desire for him to feel attacked by this essay, of course, but I do understand that the thrust of what has been inculcated into one’s beliefs since childhood is not easily overcome. (I expect we all have some experience of that difficulty. I know I do.) And David R. was raised in the very culture that’s so well described by another “child of the South” in the article to which I link above about “The South Still Lies about the Civil War.”

      Fortunately, David R., is large-hearted enough to forgive me my heresies, like believing in the science that tells us that life evolved on this planet over several billion years, that our planet itself arose out of a cosmic process that has gone on even longer, and like believing the historical evidence that’s abundant in reading about the era that led to our national nightmare in the middle of the 19th century.

  4. Maybe I read it here in another post and/or comments or somewhere else — I forgot where. If this is redundant here, I apologize. Also, I forgot the source. Again, I apologize.

    Not long ago I read that a significant consideration in Lincoln’s decision was that European powers circa 1860 were eager to witness the general failure of our then still fairly youthful “American experiment” — they wanted proof that our republican form of representative democracy was not robust and that a nation which attempted such a form of government could not in principle last long. Hence the language at beginning of item [2] in the Gettysburg address:

    “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure”.

    I have been reading a short book about an interesting “small, side element” in our civil war: the role of the Russian imperial navy in preventing the C.S.A. from operating against Union shipping in the Pacific Ocean. That book clearly states that both England and France allied with the C.S.A. both strongly and quickly. For example, England quickly formalized treating the C.S.A. as a combatant in war, meaning that England perceived what was going on here “across the pond” to be not a rebellion but a war between two legitimate nations.

    Such quick behavior seems to me to indicate that the notion of European powers eagerly hoping for the failure of the United States may be right.

    If it is true that they were so eagerly hoping for such failure, I have no doubt that Lincoln was well aware of it.

    • If my recollection is correct, Todd, you have part of this right but part not. Yes, there was the sense that the whole world was watching this experiment in democracy, and Lincoln was certainly very concerned that America prove its national ideals to be workable. And yes, there was an affinity between Britain and the Confederacy– but it was mostly an economic one: the British had a textile industry, and the cotton from the South fed its mills.

      But I believe that part of the success of Lincoln (and his Secretary of State, William Henry Seward, was that the British never did recognize the Confederacy, nor come in on their side in any meaningful way. So I’m not sure this “formalized treating the C.S.A. as a combatant” is accurate.

  5. It is my belief that Watergate is one of the crucial events in the formation of what you call the evil force. Many of the Players from the Nixon era appear in the stream of the force you call evil. Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and others in the People for a New American Century (PNAC) organization, including the Bush family. Some of the later players, IMHO, where motivated to go down the path they have since gone down in direct response to what they perceived as an unfair takedown of a good Republican President. Even then there was a stream of what could be termed evil in the Nixon Presidency, that permitted the formation of the EPA and other political issues such as the Endangered Species Act. The behind the scenes sabotage of the Vietnamese peace talks leading up to his first election was one of the first signs. His overwhelming desire to win at all costs, evinced by the actions that came out during the Watergate Investigation and has been further fleshed out in the Nixon tape recordings.

    This group and younger accolytes helped to make Jimmy Carter a one term President. Note a similar modus operandi from the Reagan team, sabotaging the Iran hostage negotiations in the background and leaving no traces without some plausible deniability so even today some say with belief that any accusations about this are false and can’t be proven.

    Carl Rove was a student of Atwater, if my memory recalls. I have read that it was in the late 60s that the Religious right began to undermine the true words of God to serve the Republican vision. It took awhile for these efforts to bear false fruit, but bear false fruit it did and resulted in the Iran Contra Scandal, the constant drum to impeach Clinton that failed and now the constant drumming of impeachment of Obama. Notice a consistent stream of similar approaches. Their mode of approach has been honed over about 45 years. Of course there were elements of this even before this, like the John Birchers who were marginalized back in the 60s but are no welcomed into the Republican party of today. Similarly there were the conspiratorialists, who are now welcomed into the Republican party of today as well.

    This is the sweep of history writ large. Look at where the coarsening of politics and the large ego needing to win at all cost and those who supported them and how they tend to turn up at all the major intersections of the evil force. Even now there are large numbers of good people in the South who have been lied to and subverted or deceived into believing of the righteousness of the Republican approach of today. I say this with sadness as I know many, including some in my family, who have fallen for the lie. Not all completely or totally believing but still willing to pull the lever because of a single issue or two that they have been told is of supreme importance to their belief system, such as the right to bear arms of that abortion is murder or other hot button issues that are used to split of groups of voters to vote against the own well-being.

    That is the historical flow that I see in a nutshell. It goes further into the past and deeper and the people who are exploiting it are still around and have been around for over 45 years.

    We’re only talking about 300 years or so of Southern history here, no more. lol

  7. The decision to use evangelical churches to propagate lies about Democrats led to Reagan’s southern strategy. Yes, they used the remnants of the South’s paranoia and lies of the Aggresion of the North and their biblical bent to bend them to the new forces which we via Andy now see as evil. Many of these were around for long time but had no galvanizing strategy to bring them together which is what the Republicans have done.

  8. You have omitted just a bit, Robin Pettit. It was the evangelical socially “conservative” Christians nationally who decided to use the Republican Party right after the Roe v Wade decision back in 1973. That decision caused a HUGE uprising, and taking over the Republican Party was what they decided to do, starting with taking on lowly Party jobs and working their way up. That is a large part of how we got to where we are now. The Republican Party is unrecognizable now from what it was before then. So that being the case the decision of the Republican Party to use the socially “conservative” (anti-sex) part of Christianity followed naturally. Large numbers of those people are so dedicated to their cause that they will say anything at all if it might help in furthering that one thing that’s most important. I’ve told a few females, where relevant, that while I respect their one big political issue, I have a problem with their spreading falsehoods about other things. Much of it is unknowing falsehoods from not bothering with anything incoming besides propaganda.


  9. Larry, I only partly agree. The Roe vs Wade decision just hastened the process that was already in place and ongoing, IMHO. It also may have made it apply to a larger segment of the evangelical Christian wing. Their teachings have distorted the teachings of Jesus so much that the Conservatives have a project rewriting the Bible to remove the perceived Liberal slant. I would be surprised if they also rewrote sections to reinforce some of their preferred biases about certain Old Testament verses that are used to inflame opinions about abortion, gays in particular. Here is a link to it via the Conservapedia, another distortion of truth.

    I refer specifically to the actions of a huge organization comprised of a number of different evangelical fundamentalist Protestant denominations that were taken beginning in 1973. I got that from a thorough review of at least one specific big organization that grew exponentially, maybe more than one. I am certain that you are right about it having started just a bit before that, as there were other sexual freedom decisions by the Supreme Court in the 1960s that caused disturbances. If I had to prove all this I know that I could. I don’t know how long it would take me. But I will probably go at it if you argue with me further on this. 🙂


    Robin, would it help my credibility any if I mentioned that I was taking the Constitutional Law course in law school very shortly after Roe v Wade, so that did require that I learn a bit more than average about what was going on in America right about then. 🙂 I do hope I’m not just sounding like a blowhard here.

  12. Yes, Andrew repeating his partial misconceptions did prompt a response that is coming about war. I will review such thoughts as I do have and endeavor to separate EVIL- which there was . . and is . . from war which arises from human nature which manifest beginning in little children.

    “That’s mine . . give it back. Whack” !

  13. In the mean time, if Andy finds reason to believe his ancestors were dumb animals
    I would assume he knows better than anyone else. And of course that’s o k.

    Actually I wrote a piece in the newspaper here back in the early ’90s
    The Great Compromise how we descendants of Adam were in time joined
    by the ascending apes and how the gene pools became mixed in some family lines and maybe explains how such different types appear in the same family.

    If it were less lengthy I might post it on one of the N S B threads.

    In The Great Compromise . . we accept . . glad you others know and admit who you are.
    No Need For Further Controversy.

  14. I agree the Roe vs Wade decision started an explosion of activism but much of the groundwork was laid before then for other reasons besides abortion. I have no desire to argue with you, as I am certain an organization to take advantage of the Roe vs Wade decision was formed right after the decision was handed down.

  15. David R., when I was young, my brother and I played at war like so many other children. Fortunately, for him and I, I was able to draw conclusions based upon our play swords and guns that normally aren’t included in the thoughts of most kids who play these games. I just imagined a battlefield of swords and shields and spears in a time of little or no medical care. Where the dead and dying (wounded nowadays) are strewn around the battlefield and explained what it would be like to be one of those dying people out there to my brother who was all about war . I also did this about more modern wars with guns, artillery and bombs and this tampered his enthusiasm for war. Now, even with that I was willing to go to war if called up in the draft and I also support some mandatory service requirement in this country too. However, I would go in full well knowing the potential horrors of war and realize why there is a service camaraderie that develops to help many of those who go to war to cope with their experiences. And that is also why I support the vast majority of those who did serve. I do find it hard to support those like George W. Bush who served in a unit that likely would be the last to be sent to war and so he was very unlikely to have to go to war during his service and he knew it. Same with Dick Cheney who managed to get 5 deferments and Tom Delay and others of that ilk called Chickenhawk. There is a database of Chickenhawks somewhere on the internet. I would call someone a Chickenhawk if they actively strove to not serve or to select a unit that was as good as a guarantee to not go to an active duty state in a war zone short of a nuclear war in which case fighters are not overly useful.

  16. David R said, “….from war which arises from human nature which manifest beginning in little children.”

    True. In some children violent tendencies develop more than in some others depending partly on genetic differences and partly on the specific local environment. I think the point here is that the social environment in the South is a perhaps more violent influence than the social in the North, though my farmer relatives in rural New York do have their guns, partly to be ready to defend themselves, at least, against violence from others.

    Besides my law degree I also have an undergraduate degree in Psychology. 🙂


  17. Many children lie, also. Then many of them grow up and stop lying. That is a most relevant analogy regarding children and violence and growing up, again depending upon the social environment.

    I am being very matter of fact here, applying no judgement at the moment regarding good versus evil, only some objective observations. Larry

  18. One addition to the definition of Chickenhawk, an untoward propensity to advocate war for false reasons or for lame reasons.

  19. Later David R said,
    “In The Great Compromise . . we accept . . glad you others know and admit who you are.
    No Need For Further Controversy.”

    Your point is easy enough to get. You seem to being snarky (rude), “you others.” But I am not sure why you would say it here other than to be snarky. I mean, where is the relevance to today, David R, to going forward?


  20. I assume you believe also that only one Earth was created, not two, David R. So it’s not that we came from different Earths. RFLMAO Forgive me, it is humorous to think of, two different Earths. LOL


  21. Re: ” In the beginning . . . ” The Genesis account so begins. Undoubtedly that is intended to relate for us an account of our era in the midst of eternity. The same Bible guides us to understand that God, the Creator, had no beginning
    (and will have no end).

    Those who die in Faith are assured of meting him in a perfected state of being ourselves following Jesus Christ and will be in a complete state of understanding and being.

    Until then we obviously have a limited understanding . . . some trusting and living in faith and ‘obedience’ and others denying that God as a Person even exists and certainly not as the Father of the Only Begotten Son, Jesus.

    So they pass this brief lifetime here peeping through telescopes & etc. and in speculation and imaginations which undoubtedly is less scary for them than the message that they are being and will finally be JUDGED for their thoughts, words and deeds.

    So !

    • Hi, David R. I will continue to say that on matters of religious doctrine, I don’t have knowledge. So I will be mute.

      But there was one passage in your comment this morning that my attention– not about your religious beliefs but about science. It’s where you spoke of people who spend their lives “peeping through telescopes & etc. and in speculation and imaginations…”

      This gave me the impression that you really don’t know much about science. At least, if you really believe that science is about “speculation and imaginations.”

      I’d like to offer to send you a handful of issues of SCIENCE NEWS for you to read, so that you can see what it is that science does, and indeed has been doing for a few centuries. It is really one of humankind’s great achievements, following a process of disciplined inquiry in an honest way with increasing sophistication with the result that humankind now has achieved an incredible expansion of our knowledge of the world/cosmos in which we live, and about the way living systems operate.

      Really– so far beyond what was known not so terribly long ago that it is amazing.

      Are you interested in those SCIENCE NEWS issues I’m offering. If so, please email me your mailing address and I’ll pack them up for you.

  22. David R., I appreciate your compromise. I do not think it is required though. I personally believe that the Genesis story is really just a myth put to paper and is the creation myth extant in the Levant at the time the Israelites were coming together to form a people, lo 5,000 or maybe 10,000 years ago.

    I really don’t understand the resistance to evolution, a process that has been show to be operative in the natural world and whose effects can be traced forward and backward from the appearance of first life over 3 billion years ago during the Archaen period to the present. It is not incompatible with the Genesis story if you accept that story as a myth and allegory of the current understanding at that time.

    There is a link somewhere on Nonesoblind to a livejournal set of writings by the Infamous Brad. Here is a link to the first article:

    There are five in this series and I wish I could remember who originally posted this to NoneSoBlind. If I find the original post, I will attribute the source appropriately. If you read it through, he details a meeting of Christian Fundamentalists to subvert the word of God to achieve a stronger country to fight the Godless Communists who were the great bogey monster at that time. The meeting occurred in about 1968 if I remember correctly. This put in place the mechanisms that permitted the right to take advantage of the Roe vs. Wade decision in a much more targeted and focused way than in the past.

    I personally believe that if there is a God, I am more likely to go to Heaven than just about any of the preachers or politicians who profess their faith or most of the leaders, at least among those we hear on TV and the internet who apparently are the most judgemental and idiotic individuals I have almost ever seen. In a sense, I am more at peace because, if God exists, he will have final judgement and it will be much more reasonable than those who profess loudly of their faith on this earth.

  23. Someone, anyone, please tell me, how is all this talk about differences in religion relevant right here and now, aside from the principle that one should bring up one’s religion at each and every opportunity? Aside from that how does that help with our trying to deal with the more famous liars of the Republican Party? Pray tell. And Andy started it this time, for whatever that is worth. See the lower portion of
    But it does not follow that anyone else had to get into that particular thing with him even if we imagine that he meant to be provocative. So that leaves me wondering why everyone thinks we’re supposed to be here and what the creation of the Earth has to do with it. As I said, earlier, slavery in the South only started about 300 years ago, long after any arguments about creation that I’ve heard about.


  24. Dear David R,

    I do want to mention one thing to you, in case it might be of real help:

    These words of yours come over to me, regardless of your intent, as meaning that you David R believe firmly that YOU are The Big Judge. I am pretty certain that I know that you do not believe that any more than I believe that I am nor any more than does any scientist I’ve ever read comes across as believing that she or he is The Big Judge when getting up in the morning and confirming that yes indeed the sun rose in the east again or when studying anything else. So I am pointing out a major ambiguity, that you sound that way even though I don’t think you mean to, for your consideration as to how you might be more clear (some other time please! :-)).

    “So they pass this brief lifetime here peeping through telescopes & etc. and in speculation and imaginations which undoubtedly is less scary for them than the message that they are being and will finally be JUDGED for their thoughts, words and deeds.

    “So !”

    If you want to have religious conversations and disputes I can think of many other areas to argue about besides just the question of the creation of the Earth. :-7


  25. I know, I also have been talking about my religion for years off and on here. It having been necessary to say that, admit that if you like, my own opinion, the one that counts in this, is that my efforts have generally been for the purpose of being inclusive rather than divisive. Larry

  26. For what it’s worth, David R’s reminds me of something I read from a Taoist priest about 20 years ago (I’m paraphrasing here — I don’t recall the exact words):

    Belief in metaphysical totalitarianism does not make good people. People who act like well-trained dogs, yes. Good, no.

    We have been talking about the civil war here. Note that almost everybody on each side very fervently believed in the boundless love and grace of God, in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and to quote David R: “the message that they are being and will finally be JUDGED for their thoughts, words and deeds”. Worked pretty well, didn’t it?

  27. ToddR:

    Good, very good observation, (Obviously NOT ‘the answer’ in itself)

    So ?!

  28. Thank you Andy.
    My average in Biology was 98; econ 100; differential calculus 100; chemistry -I forget, but remember enjoying lab work.

    Although I had a Pony at age 10 ands my first 22 cal. rifle at age 12 I also had a rock collection with about every mineral could get all labeled on a board as a little kid. Read Zane Grey and James Fennimore Cooper worked in our gardens during WWII, fed the rabbits and chickens , gathered the eggs etc . . very ‘down to earth’

    But I too became very much aware of the progress in knowledge and by the time I was out of school I guess I really thought ‘we’ would some day find out

    Religious faith, such as I maybe had was gone. When I realized what had happened one day it came to me . . I’ve heard about God and Jesus all my life; I’m going to get a Bible and see if there is anything in there for me.

    I began reading . . the Red letters . . and was surprised and actually exclaimed I Believe This ! That was December 1956. I kept reading and found myself praying and spouting poetry, prayer in verse, and the beauty of Spring 1957 like nothing I had ever known. But of course the old doubt haunted me and I was in prayer alone about April when one day praying to believe past all that that it happened. Doubt all gone. Still today 57 years later.

    Still learning, of course, and becoming aware of mistakes made along the trail I hadn’t even been aware of (a common experience I hear for the Pilgrim)

    For maybe what ? 400 years ? knowledge has been increasing in about every fields. (I myself have even been to the observatory and done some peeping myself)
    In many ways life and health have benefitted. We are surrounded with the
    achievements of knowledge.

    The problem I see Is

    Somewhat that I experienced long ago has overtaken a young generation (or two ?) And the failure of ‘faith’ is being filled with ‘educated’ ignorance, in my view. And as they are led away, with confidence that all is progress, I say, led away from the life principles of the past it appears the future for our Nation as we have known it is being lost . . maybe forever. Or maybe . . .

    This I believe !

    For those who look for true faith and examples in the public media, you have my sympathy. I think pretty rare. (Thankfully I could/can read for myself.)

  29. David R., I have read the red letters in the Bible too and know of what they say. I have seen those words ignored too often by those on the right when it doesn’t fit their purposes and then they use them as well as other words in some of the old Testament verses when it works to their advantage, so because of this, I have turned away from the those on the right who seem to say, do as I say, not as I do and select verses as necessary to make they point that contradicts often those read letters in the Bible that I read myself.

    “And as the younger generation(s) are led away, with confidence that all is progress, I say, led away from the life principles of the past it appears the future for our Nation as we have known it is being lost…”

    According to my observations the younger generation is not, on the whole, very confident of progress these days at all. Many are having a very hard time.

    Otherwise I can’t think of much to say at the moment. Thank you for sharing, David R. You’ve told quite a story, and I think I can see your concerns somewhat clearly.


  31. Robin Pettit, thank you for that reference to Very interesting. There is a link to the next part at the bottom of that page and then similarly at the bottoms of parts to the rest of the parts.


    Before David R feels he has to start all over again, I’ve got the strong impression that with that particular post you are preaching to the choir where David R is concerned, Robin Pettit. David R has made it very clear, both over time and recently, that he has problems with Republicans and that others in his neighborhood do also. Please excuse my butting in. Obviously David R can correct me if I’m wrong. But I also think he hates having to repeat himself about as much as I hate having to repeat myself. :-7


  33. Larry, I agree, we can stop, but religion came in because it is one of the primary tools of the evil that Andy is referencing in his article. I assume David R. realizes that religion is often used for evil and I believe he finds this appalling as do I.

    Yes, both formal (institutional) religion and personal religion have been used for evil. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater, I am sure we agree.

    By the way, I studied the red words also. My copy even has my underlinings.


  35. Richard H. Randall

    A few days ago, I said that there 1. Is value in the Bible but that it is certainly not of ‘whole cloth.’ 2. There are elements in that work, that are morally wrong, and that are inferior to other moral codes and examples. I gave as examples some of Lincoln’s speeches and work, and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations, and FDR’s 4 Freedoms pronouncements, and the list is long. I hold these superior to some of the beliefs and practices and ‘Biblical Morality’ David R claims is the word of God, and that is superior to any human wisdom.
    I’d agree with him on several of these values, and have said so. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to recognize real value in what we humans are capable of. The universe is full of value, and for me that includes the moral values inherent in an evolving Great Spirit, and the Creation, and the work of the tiny humans who dare stand their ground in the face of totalitarian belief, whether secular, or theocratic when it is morally wrong!
    I don’t believe in ‘cheap Protestant grace,’ the idea that belief is sufficient for salvation and eternal life. (Did I mention that I am Protestant?-I am.)
    The various world religions for me are attempts to understand Spiritual truths and values. These doctrines are found in cultural milieus, and thus have much information, some valuable, some pernicious, some neutral. I believe a spiritual life focused upon mainly eternal life and a ‘special relationship with God/or Jesus, etc is essentially shallow and selfish. If it causes one to betray the earth and all its teeming life, it is morally wrong.
    As for science, Jacob Bronowski called it mankind’s greatest intellectual achievement, not because it was always right, but because it is a social as well as personal responsibility for grappling with the truths of the world.
    He did not disparage moral, cultural and aesthetic truths, but believed that the inquiring, and practical intellect was vital to what it meant to be a whole human being. He detested ideologies which barred inquiry and set up theories of hate–some which came from religion, some from humanistic/mystical theories of racial superiority, etc. For me, his philosophy was far more valuable than Paul’s misanthropy/mysogny, from the militant Muslim’s belief that he can murder non- believers, or any other religion’s immoral offerings.

  36. Having Jesus Christ as lifelong figure in one’s identity does not necessarily signify stupidity, Richard my friend. Larry

  37. Richard H. Randall

    Larry, I have never, never said such a thing. Nor have I implied it. I have simply said, for many fundamentalists this is the sum and practice of their ‘religious duty.’ No social justice, racism is fine, women are inferior, etc. Had you grown up in the South, you’d know this. My mother, growing up in the ‘hard-shell’ Baptist religion of her parents and grandparents, in the 1930’s LEFT that religion, for this very reason. No she wasn’t a liberal, nor progressive: she just knew the hatred she often heard could not be God’s will. So she joined the Methodists.
    I grew up with the children, as well as the adults of these people: they were the same people who opposed segregation, sometimes violently with murderous intent and sometimes consequences. The same people who wanted to send minorities back to Africa. But they thought they were the most moral, and godly followers of Jesus.
    I am astonished that you could have concluded that I thought that followers of Jesus were stupid: I don’t agree with all that he said and taught, but never have I thought him stupid, or immoral. I consider him an avatar of God, the Great Spirit of the Universe, who had a great deal right about what he taught and believed.

  38. Please calm down, hey, Richard, no I know you never said followers of Jesus were stupid. However I truly thought that your words in might rather easily have been understood to mean that by someone who does not know you as well as I do. I said it just that way to emphasize the point. I might have added something, didn’t think of it in time.

    Otherwise, Richard, you and I have had different experiences in life. Any rudimentary imagination you might have about my life is mainly wrong/mistaken. The same with me about you. We just have not had much time together. Yet.

    I also grew up around Baptists. True they were not from the Deep South, but some were Southern Baptists. And I also know well both the Methodists and the Free Methodists, who really aren’t so free. And I am telling you that there are other Christians in groups different from any of these, besides those of us who try to be independent scholars.

    Apologies for the misunderstanding, Richard. I do beg your forgiveness.


  39. Ambiguity is rife, and no I don’t mean here just in particular. :-7

  40. Richard and Larry, I essentially believe that Christians do not have a lock on salvation or whatever you want to call it. I believe that any God who would condemn large swaths of the worlds people is not a God I would want to be saved by. Hence, I do feel the Christian God is just a manifestation of a more unitary and pure God beyond that in the old testament and that Christ, the historical figure, is what in other cultures would be called an enlightened human and figured this out himself. I do not claim to be an enlightened individual, needless to say. I am fairly certain there is likely a church that believes like this too and I believe there is one nearby where I live in the Philadelphia suburbs but have never been. I am not even certain I believe, but that is that. However, I live my life morally and give to causes and try to help my fellows including my neighbors according to their needs.

  41. Richard H. Randall

    Larry, I know you mean only well here. Nothing to forgive.
    Be well. Richard

  42. Let us pray, in our own ways of course. 🙂

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