Philobiblon: A state of rapturous stupidity

Saturday, December 11, 2004

A state of rapturous stupidity

I'm limiting posts on current politics as too depressing, but I have to point to a site (thanks to Personal Political) with a speech by Bill Moyers when he accepted Harvard Medical School's Global Environment Citizen Award. It makes depressing reading:

"One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the oval office and in Congress.

...millions of Christian fundamentalists may believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed - even hastened - as a sign of the coming apocalypse ... Nearly half the U.S. Congress before the recent election - 231 legislators in total - more since the election - are backed by the religious right. Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian right advocacy groups.

... One of their texts is a high school history book, America's Providential History. You'll find there these words: "the secular or socialist has a limited resource mentality and views the world as a pie…that needs to be cut up so everyone can get a piece.' however, "[t]he Christian knows that the potential in God is unlimited and that there is no shortage of resources in God's earth……while many secularists view the world as overpopulated, Christians know that God has made the earth sufficiently large with plenty of resources to accommodate all of the people."

This reminds me of a site someone on Feminist Blogs pointed to (sorry, forgotten who), the Rapture Index. I thought at first this HAS to be a spoof, but gradually it becomes clear that they are deadly serious.

The idea is this is an index, just like any financial measure, judging how close is Judgement Day, when they confidently predict the predictions of Revelation, as written around two millennia ago, will come true to the letter.

And they get terribly upset when news is good, e.g."Financial unrest: The lack of any major news has downgraded this category."

Such a pity the church father didn't chuck that chapter out of the Bible when they were finalising it, as they very nearly did. It might have saved an awful lot of trouble. But so reassuring that financial indexes always seem to get their predictions wrong ....

Finally, on a more cheerful note, I just found the Freethought of the day website. It commemorates the birthday (in 1849), of the Swedish author and social critic Ellen Karolina Sofia Key. She wrote: "the most demoralising factor in education is Christian religious instruction. . . . even a more living, a more actual instruction in Christianity injures the child".

That reminds me of some children I used to babysit - and this was only 20 years ago. One of the five-year-old's paintings was on the fridge. It was on the subject he had been assigned by his apparently normal suburban Catholic school: Hell, and all its fire and brimstone. Frightening a five-year-old with Hell; if that's not child abuse I don't know what is.


Blogger Susoz said...

As a young Catholic child, I had two illustrated books to keep me entertained during Mass - 'Heros and Heroines of the Church' - lives of the saints and matyrs. They were full of stonings, burnings, stabbings etc. Wonderful reading! (I still have them.)

12/13/2004 03:07:00 am  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

I guess that is the "Roadrunner cartoon" school of religious education, and nothing wrong with that. But we all know how children will take things to heart, and to say to a child: "If you are naughty you'll go to hell" is a great way to give them nightmares when they've pinched their younger sibling or committed some similar minor childhood "sin", and quite possibly scar them for life. (And certainly this was the message of lots of the "horrible Catholic childhood" literature that seemed to fill our HSC syllabus.

12/14/2004 03:09:00 am  

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