Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » December 2005 » New Dark Ages

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12/08/2005: New Dark Ages

Bryan, over at WHY NOW, has a post on some local Mega-Churches and their decisions NOT to have Christmas celebrations on, well...Christmas.

I just got my e-mail update from Bishop Spong with his response to this Mega-Church growth and the ushering in of our new DARK AGES:

"SXL from the Internet writes:

"After watching a Tom Brokaw special on the growth of Evangelicals and their huge churches, I am rather appalled that their "love" for humanity does not include homosexuals, people that get abortions or gay and lesbian couples who want to marry! How can people believe in such a narrow minded, limited God? Are they really growing as powerful as they were pictured? "

Dear SXL,

I think that we have in recent years entered a "New Dark Age" in the Western world. It is marked by the rise of religious systems that seek to build security by encouraging prejudice against a designated victim. Both evangelical fundamentalism and the kind of ultra-conservative Roman Catholicism that is at present installed in the Vatican are publicly defined by their visceral and uninformed hostility toward homosexual persons. What the heretic was in the Middle Ages, the black in the days of slavery and segregation, and the Jew in Nazi Germany, the homosexual has become in the religious hysteria of our day. This kind of behavior is always a response to fear and to a rapidly changing world.

Security-providing religion, which always requires a victim, is like a drug that carries us over the rough places of life. It is certainly not the wave of the Christian future.

Protestant 'mega churches' are usually built on the charisma of the founding or transforming pastor. These leaders are usually sincere people who, even if they are not well informed, have a flair for showmanship. Life, however whether they like it or not, is not made secure simply by identifying the enemy and claiming the certainty of an infallible Pope or an inerrent Bible. Pain and tragedy invade the lives of even the most self-assured people of faith. The cult of the individual leader also enters a crisis when time forces a change in leadership. Many religious institutions do not make this transition well.

Beyond that I think we ought to recognize that truth and unity cannot ever be built on identifying a victim that creates the illusion of unity because there is a common enemy. When these institutions say that God hates the same things that the worshiper hates, everyone should be very suspicious.

Dark Ages do not last forever. Ten years from now this phase of our religious history will surely be over.

The contemporary scientific and medical data that suggests that homosexuality is a perfectly normal
but minority aspect of our humanity, that it is a given and not a chosen aspect of life, will have challenged these prejudices so deeply as to make them seem not only quaint but ignorant.

Remember that less than one hundred years ago we were still persecuting left-handed people as evil, deviant and unnatural. In the meantime I share your enormous embarrassment that the Christian church is today the major voice in the Western World in the persecution of those members of our society whose only 'sin' is that they were born with a sexual orientation different from the majority. Someday we will be terribly ashamed of the Christian leaders in our generation.

-- -- John Shelby Spong

Well said.

But until the end of these New Dark Age ascending, we still have this Much Ado About Nothing "War on Merry Christmas" crap: 'Holiday' Cards Ring Hollow for Some on Bushes' List:
"What's missing from the White House Christmas card? Christmas.

This month, as in every December since he took office, President Bush sent out cards with a generic end-of-the-year message, wishing 1.4 million of his close friends and supporters a happy "holiday season."
Religious conservatives are miffed because they have been pressuring stores to advertise Christmas sales rather than "holiday specials" and urging schools to let students out for Christmas vacation rather than for "winter break." They celebrated when House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) insisted that the sparkling spectacle on the Capitol lawn should be called the Capitol Christmas Tree, not a holiday spruce..."

Home Boy Denny has the GOP *line* for EVERYTHING. Bleh!

But the article also goes on to point out that:
"...Diversity has been a hallmark of White House greeting cards for some time, according to Mary Evans Seeley of Tampa, Fla., author of "Season's Greetings From the White House." The last presidential Christmas card that mentioned Christmas was in 1992. It was sent by George H.W. and Barbara Bush, parents of the current president.

Seeley said the first president to send out true Christmas cards, as opposed to signed photographs or handwritten letters, was Franklin D. Roosevelt. "Merry Christmas From the President and Mrs. Roosevelt," said his first annual card, in 1933.

Like many modern touches, the generic New Year's card was introduced to the White House by John and Jacqueline Kennedy. In 1962, they had Hallmark print 2,000 cards, of which 1,800 cards said "The President and Mrs. Kennedy Wish You a Blessed Christmas" and 200 said "With Best Wishes for a Happy New Year."

Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson continued that tradition for a couple of years, but it required keeping track of Christian and non-Christian recipients. Beginning in 1966, they wished everyone a "Joyous Christmas," and no president has attempted the two-card trick since.

Seeley dates the politicization of the White House Christmas card to Richard M. Nixon, who increased the number of recipients tenfold, to 40,000, in his first year. The numbers since have snowballed, hitting 125,000 under Jimmy Carter, topping 400,000 under Bill Clinton and rising to more than a million under the current Bushes, with each president's political party paying the bill.

The wording, meanwhile, has often flip-flopped. Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter put "Merry Christmas" in their 1977 card and then switched to "Holiday Season" for the next three years. Ronald and Nancy Reagan, similarly, began with a "Joyous Christmas" in 1981 and 1982 but doled out generic holiday wishes from 1983 to 1988. The elder President Bush stayed in the "Merry Christmas" spirit all four years, and the Clintons opted for inclusive greetings for all of their eight years..."

So, all of this is merely a stupid *war of words* and Much Ado About Nothing...til these Dark Ages can be overcome and put behind us.

The New Enlightenment can't get here TOO SOON for me.

Karen on 12.08.05 @ 09:13 AM CST

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