Guess that’s why they’re always accused of being “Liberal”

(as if that were an insult)

I refer you, gentle reader, to a program on the only national broadcast system I consider relevant today- you just knew I was going to say “NPR”.

From an interview on “The Story” with Dick Gordon and his guest Barbara Allen:

Dick: I think that organized religion, in almost every faith, capitalizes on all that [uncertainty]. Where there is uncertainty, the church offers certainty and will fill in all those blanks for you

Barbara: That’s right. The fastest growing churches today are the ones that will give you all the answers. They’ll even have their own bowling league, I mean you can really join a church and be there every night. And they’ll tell you how to vote and how to spend your money, how to raise your children. And those are the fastest growing churches. I think it’s because of the chaos of the world and I think people are drawn to anybody who seems to have all the answers.

I just don’t see it as having integrity, with how things really are. Ultimately we’re each responsible for our own decisions, and to do something just because somebody has told you to do it, somewhere in your life that’s going to fall apart.

Keep in mind this is from a woman of faith. Most of the interview with her is about how she left an extra-specially nutty evangelical church in her search for a truth that actually worked for her, but this statement really hits home.

I have been good friends with people who absolutely love their churches, precisely because of the certainty they provide. The church I have in mind specifically is obsessed with giving the impression that it’s all one big happy family, and that its adherents finally have access to all the answers. The big happy family thing’s a thin sham but you won’t get the adherents to admit it.

Once I was talking to a gal who told me she’d left catholicism partly because too many of the answers its doctrines provide are simply “we don’t know”. She was so relieved to find a church that had an answer for Everything.

I asked her if it bothered her that all those “certain” answers were bullshit, and she sidestepped the question.

So much for a quest for “truth”, that was not what she was seeking. She was after certainty and she got it, and that made her happy.

I dunno man, I’d rather be certain that I don’t know everything (and never risk being proven wrong) than convince myself that I have all the answers but live in fear of being told that I do not.


4 thoughts on “Guess that’s why they’re always accused of being “Liberal”

  1. I am reminded of when I dated a Christian Fundamentalist. During that period of time, we had debates about the books I had on my shelf — mainly things like the Koran, the Apocrypha, sayings of Confucius, the Torah, the Talmud, etc.

    “Why do you have those? They’re wrong,” I was repeatedly told.

    “How are they wrong?” I would ask, dreading the usual answer.

    “Because they’re not the correct text,” or something similar.

    “They’re correct to someone, and just as important as yours,” would be my reply and the subject would be dropped by my companion, knowing full well that I would not be convinced.

    Months later I dated a Jehovah’s Witness and even went to a service with the immidiate family. Afterwards, I was asked by the father as to my opinion — what did I think about the service? Unfortunately, without thinking, I told the truth. Something along the lines of it being the most liberal interpretation of the Bible, and certainly the most altered to match a certain dogma. I stopped dating this person shortly thereafter.

    My point is that I agree whole heartedly. Agnosticism allows me to be certain that I don’t know everything as well. You and I well disagree as to the existence of “something.” We always have and probably always will. However, on a points like that, we can come to a couple agreements for sure:

    1) We don’t know everything but sure have ideas;

    2) Organised religion works for some, but in many cases is pure hell for those close to them;

    3) It’s amazing what concepts are created in the search for a belief system.

    Etc Etc Etc

  2. I’m dying to hear Rebecca’s (of Skepchick fame) new show on NPR. Should be soon, I think.

    Skepchick + NPR?

    Radio really doesn’t get any better than that.

    Of course, down here in the Bible Belt, I’ll probably have to listen online as there’d probably be rioting and looting if it went on one of our local NPR stations.

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