Christian Humanism

Just Published: The Gospel of Christian HumanismChristianity without God will appeal to skeptics, agnostics, non-theists, liberal Christians or former Christians who have difficulty with the mythology and the concept of god in traditional Christian theology but find the life and ethical teachings of Jesus compelling as a way of life and a basis for ethics. The author argues that Christian Humanism is essentially Christian, is justified on historical grounds, and is consistent with the teachings of Jesus and the early Church Fathers so far as we can determine with reasonable historical and literary accuracy. He argues for an approach to Christianity based on rational inquiry, human freedom, individual conscience, and a commitment to the values taught by Jesus as a guide to ethical decision-making; and further that these values are not only compatible with Christianity, they are fundamental to a proper understanding and interpretation of it.

Available on Amazon Kindle. Free e-book download July 5-6. Paperback version.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Loss of our Democracy

I have tried to be cautious and careful in my writing and I am not inclined toward the dramatic—but for the first time in my 82 years I am genuinely fearful about the upcoming election and what it could mean for our democracy.  I do not think it is an exaggeration to suggest that this upcoming mid-term election is critical and that, if the opposition to Donald Trump is not successful in gaining control of the Congress, the survival of democracy and democratic values is in serious danger and we will face the political reality that fascism has emerged as a serious threat that has gained more than a foothold in our once great nation.

If you doubt that, go back and read anew the history of Europe in the 1930s—the rise of fascism in Germany under Adolf Hitler and in Italy under Benito Mussolini; the call for national unity in the face of amorphous threats; the increasingly totalitarian one-party rule, suppressing voices of the opposition party, attacking or intimidating newspapers that did not support the ruling party; intimidation through threats and violence; demonizing opponents and the leaders of the opposition party as essentially evil; preparations for war and increased armaments and military spending; uncritical loyalty and devotion to the leader; repeated public lying by the leader under the premise that the lie that dominates the public discussion will become true for the masses by repetition; control of the message by the leader and his propaganda media that drowned out or sabotaged any competing voices; racism and fear of non-whites and those who are different in culture or language who will overwhelm us and pose a threat to our culture and traditions; the use of militarized police and chain link and barb-wire enclosures for holding those who must be forcibly removed from our nation.  And so it goes.

The legitimate press (disparagingly called “Fake News” by Trump and his fawning followers) has been frustrated by relentless attacks on press freedom and personal (often vicious) attacks on journalists and the threats that they pose both to democratic values and to a free and independent press.  Those of us who care for democratic values, including the press, have been slow to call out Trump and the leaders of the Republican Party, for their complicity in undermining democracy and the fundamental principles of our nation.  Until now.

Yesterday Jennifer Rubin, an opinion writer in the Washington Post quoted[1] approvingly words[2] from Yascha Mounk, a lecturer in government at Harvard University, to the effect that

In all democracies, politicians occasionally lie to cover up scandals or exaggerate their legislative accomplishments. In the United States, the rise of the right-wing news media in recent decades has tempted politicians to play to their own supporters without worrying whether their rhetoric is inflammatory or fair. But the construction of an alternate reality that obviates the very possibility of conducting politics on the basis of truth is a novelty in this country. And it is increasingly becoming obvious that it will serve a clear purpose: to prepare the ground for egregious violations of basic democratic norms.

In other words, lying creates an alternative reality that lays the groundwork in which fascism thrives.

This upcoming election is nothing less than a referendum on fascism in the United States.  Those who do not vote, or who vote for Republican candidates, whether or not they realize it, become complicit in the big lie, the potential loss of our democracy, and the move toward fascism.

[1] “What if Democrats are the only democrats?”  October 24, 2018
[2] “The Real Coup Plot is Trump’s, New York Times, December 20, 2017