The Escalation from Polarization to War

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War is not the macho fantasy of insecure conservative men. It is the reality of children being burned alive.

Reasonable people have long lamented the increasing polarization of politics, an escalation from disagreement to outright division largely fueled by a few extremists who refuse to accept diversity, and the masses of gullible idiots who buy into the latest outrage on their “side”. It can be seen in the botched reconstruction after the Civil War, the mass exodus of racist white southerners from the Democratic party during the civil rights movement, the “pro-life” movement which was manufactured for political gain and has done more to harm and kill than to protect life, and so on.

Our current problems have their roots in an ancient and ongoing struggle with our own animal natures. But this phenomenon of bitter polarization, with different “facts” on both sides and no room for compromise, is far more extreme and dangerous in the modern world of social media and nuclear bombs.

Today I read one of the most disturbing things I’ve seen all year, even counting Trump’s offer to destroy the career of a Democratic politician for opposing the practice of “civil asset forfeiture” (police stealing private property from citizens who haven’t been convicted of a crime). The article is so disturbing that I will not link to it, because I don’t want to have any part in spreading it further. Instead, I’ll address a few quotes and talk about the overall issues with it.

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How to be pro-choice and pro-life at the same time

seven-week-embryoI don’t weigh in much on the issue of abortion. I’m not sure why, but I did write a pro-life paper in college before I came to my senses. You could call me pro-life still, I suppose, but it means something much different. I am literally in favor of life; I think it’s a cool thing that should be protected from needless harm.

But not all living things are equal. It’s helpful to distinguish between different meanings of the word before we attempt to have an argument. When we talk about life, are we including plants? Insects? Or are we talking about something else?

I have to ask conservative pro-life people what they mean when they refer to a human life, the ending of which would be morally wrong. What sort of criteria can we use to distinguish between a human life and a sample of living human tissue? Or in other words, how do we distinguish dead people from living people? Obviously a severed foot, even if it’s fresh enough that the cells are still mostly alive, is not a human life, though it’s both human and alive. But what about a complete human body? What can we test to see if it’s alive or not?

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Invisible Unicorns and Clueless Teachers

I don't know what to say

I don’t know what to say.

Christians foretelling doom for me because I no longer believe is like someone insisting that any second now I’m going to be impaled by an invisible unicorn. “Any second! Well, just wait and see. Someday you’ll get a hole punched through your chest and you’ll wish you believed me.” I continue to live a normal life with no impalement and no reason to think there’s a vengeful invisible unicorn stalking me.

It’s been nearly seven months since I last wrote an article specifically about LGBT issues. The main reason is that for the past year I’ve been caught up in the fallout of leaving my childhood religion, which greatly overshadows my evil attraction to people of incorrect gender. But despite the rising acceptance of variations in gender identity and sexuality among some Christian groups, there are still plenty of people spreading vile opinions and publicizing their ignorance.

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A Two-Dimensional Political Spectrum

politicsWhen discussing politics in America, there’s a lot of talk about left vs. right, liberal vs. conservative, and so on. Most of these distinctions have some meaning but fail to accurately represent reality. Some people have mapped political views along two separate scales in a sort of Cartesian graph, which makes a lot of sense (one source is the Political Compass). I’m going to explain such a graph in my own words, with a few tweaks to hopefully make it more clear what the graph means to me, who I oppose, and why.

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Misplaced Priorities of Republican Christianity

JesusFor several decades, the Republican party in America has become increasingly entwined with conservative forms of Christianity. Both are corrupt, but it’s hard to say which one corrupted the other. Some Christians (according to a PPP poll, at least 57% of them) want to make Christianity the official national religion and institute their opinions as law, and the GOP gives them a way to do that. On the other side, the GOP panders to the significant portion of America that claims Christianity, as that’s where their votes come from. Perhaps this is typical of a two-party system; the party and the voters develop a symbiotic relationship for their mutual benefit…and screw everyone else.

In order to get the religious voters riled up, the people in power merely have to sensationalize an issue on which their followers will agree. Media and politicians help to manufacture “culture wars”, and the people follow right along, teaching it as pastors, regurgitating what they heard from their pastor, latching onto minor issues so strongly that they divide us into two factions that cannot work together on anything. And then for the politicians it becomes a game of appeasing enough voters on their side to keep the majority.

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The Evil of Calvinism

fatalismI’ve heard a lot of terrible quotes by Calvinist preachers, but this one I saw recently is one of the worst. Coming from the twisted mind of Paul Washer: “There is no such thing as a great man of God, only weak, pitiful, faithless men of a great and merciful God.”

I’m not sure I even need to write an article about why this quote and the religion behind it are bad, but I’m going to anyway.

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How Christianity Perpetuates “Sin”

"Let's screw up all of humanity by doing something that's only wrong because a god who knows everything thought it would be a good idea to arbitrarily deem it bad and threaten horrible consequences if we do it for no reason except that he says so."

“Let’s screw up all of humanity by doing something that’s only wrong because a god who knows our future thought it would be a good idea to arbitrarily deem it bad and threaten horrible consequences for no reason except that he says so.”

New information has come to light about the shady life of Josh Duggar. I wish I could say I was surprised…but one thing I learned from my time as a Christian is that most versions of the religion lend themselves readily to justifying, excusing, or minimizing sexual “sins” (only heterosexual ones, though).

When we first learned of Josh’s child molesting past, I thought he probably had something similar in his adult life that he was still hiding. I didn’t mention it because I don’t like to speculate about people’s personal lives, or get involved in gossip. But as we can all see, I was sadly right. Why the suspicion, though? He expressed remorse over the molestation and claimed that he had changed, so why should I doubt his sincerity?

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