Caught In The Pulpit, pg 129

Jun 14, 2016

Until recently, mainline liberal churches – for instance, the United Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and United Church of Christ – were the dominant religious force in American society, and as such, they didn’t have to explain much of anything to anyone in order to command respect. Obfuscation, rationalization, denial, worked just fine and served to protect their way of life. Now they’re feeling boxed in: bounded on one side by fundamentalists and on the other by the New Atheists.

Compare their situation to that of men during the women’s movement of the 1960’s. Intelligent, well-meaning, respectful, socially, conscious males were caught off guard, put on the defensive, made to feel they had a lot to lose. They could see that society was unfair to women, and some of them had had a sense of that all along, but little motivation or ability to change things. They system, after all, favored men, and the prospect of reorganizing it was scary. Scary for women, too, but women were highly motivated, as the atheists are today. Ultimately, the system would have stayed the same if a lot of men hadn’t come onboard, which happened in large part because many of these men and women depended on leaders – at least, not yet – but they do have a similar worldview and a common enemy: religious fundamentalism.

–Daniel C. Dennett & Linda LaScola, Caught in the Pulpit, pg 129


Discuss!

10 comments on “Caught In The Pulpit, pg 129

  • Ultimately, the system would have stayed the same if a lot of men hadn’t come onboard, which happened in large part because many of these men and women depended on leaders – at least, not yet – but they do have a similar worldview and a common enemy: religious fundamentalism.

    There seems to be a problem with this sentence. (Or maybe I just need help to understand it.)



    Report abuse

  • so, there is the religious establishment, attacked from two sides, fundamentalists and the atheists.

    Its quite odd, at least in England. In the Church of England, there are a number of out and out atheist and often liberal and progressive clergy. ie pro lgbt rights, ordination of gay clergy etc.

    In America there is the Episcopalian Bishop Spong.

    they are attacked by fundamentalists who say, they are not true Christians, they don’t follow the Bible on one hand, and by atheists and freethinkers on the other who question their institutional power and as Dan Dennett says ‘bfuscation, rationalization, denial”…

    what is one to make of liberal religious people? Unitarians, Quakers etc.

    there are divisions on the religious side, because not all religions are the same. there is a difference between a liberal Anglican and a fundamentalists, such as this whacko pastor and his comments on the Orlando massacre:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UK-09vFpV1A

    this guy is different also to clowns such as Ken Ham.



    Report abuse

  • anton #4
    Jun 15, 2016 at 10:42 am

    so, there is the religious establishment, attacked from two sides, fundamentalists and the atheists.

    In England, there is the Church of England and the RCC, but there is not really any entity called “the religious establishment” – although some church leaders like to pose as such.

    There are thousands of Christian denominations, sects and cults.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations

    .. . . .and that is before we even look at Islamic sects and cults, Jewish sects and cults, Buddhist sects and cults or Hindu sects and cults!

    there are divisions on the religious side, because not all religions are the same.

    There have been more disputes, sectarian atrocities, crusades, and religious wars, between religious groups, than were ever committed in the name of atheism!



    Report abuse

  • Isn’t the church of England the established church, with bishops in the house of lords?

    as such it is the established church, even though the UK is a very secular society. the Jehovah’s Witnesses or Buddhists are not established in the same way, and many of the non comformist protestants would not want an established church at all,

    that is the difference between the UK and US, where in the US, the US constitution if far more secular than what exists in the UK, but at the same time, US society probably has a higher percentage of explicitly religious people than the UK and Western Europe generally.

    my question was about liberal religious people.

    how do people deal with liberal quakers say, over against fundamentalists such as this whacko in the video i posted.

    I’m asking this as a real question – i don’t bother talkig with fundamentalists anymore, because there is no meeting point. but i have a few liberal religious friends, and they cannot be dealt with in exactly the same way.

    How do people deal with Buddhists for example?

    of course religious disputes have causes more disputes than atheism. hard to doubt that one.

    I’ve got a mate who’s into all this God as the ‘ground of being’ stuff, and is reasonably well read.
    how to argue with him. I can’t say he is stupid because he’s not and knows philosophy and recent science reasonably well. but yet clings to a belief in God.

    curious what you make of this type of religious person, the liberal religious believer, or the well educated religious believer?



    Report abuse

  • anton #6
    Jun 15, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    curious what you make of this type of religious person, the liberal religious believer, or the well educated religious believer?

    Like many forms of disability, religion comes in many forms ranging from very mild (Quakers, cultural Xtians) to severe (YECs, Westboro Baptist Church, Jihadists, Zionists, Hindu gangs of cow defenders etc.)



    Report abuse

  • anton #6
    Jun 15, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    Isn’t the church of England the established church, with bishops in the house of lords?

    It is in England, from a historical basis, but it is a minority world wide. There are Anglican churches elsewhere, but even within such nominally associated grouping there are bitter disputes over dogmas and doctrines.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/01/14/anglican-communion-suspends-the-episcopal-church-for-3-years-from-committees/
    For the first time, the global organizing body of Anglicans has punished the Episcopal Church, following years of heated debate with the American church over homosexuality, same-sex marriage and the role of women.

    The Anglican Communion’s announcement Thursday that it would suspend its U.S. branch for three years from key voting positions was seen as a blow to the Episcopal Church, which allows its clergy to perform same-sex marriages and this summer voted to include the rite in its church laws.

    It was also seen as a victory for conservative Anglicans, especially those in Africa,, who for years have been pressing the Anglican Communion to discipline the U.S. body.

    Disputes are only to be expected among those who derive their ideas from unevidenced “faith”, rather than evidence based reason!
    “Faith” can produce as many different conflicting answers as there are people professing it!



    Report abuse

  • It seems to me that we’re being asked to discuss:

    … [consider] mainline liberal churches [formerly] the dominant religious force in American society … [Now they face] … highly motivated … atheists … [yet, American society might] have stayed the same if a lot of [people] hadn’t [become atheists] which happened in large part because many of these [people loved each other for who they are]. We can’t say that about clergy and atheist leaders – at least, not yet – but they do have a similar world view and a common enemy: religious fundamentalism

    In short, I agree.

    United Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, United Church of Christ – not forgetting Quakers and Anglicans and several other denominations – and atheists do indeed have a common enemy and, yes, it is the fundamentalist churches.

    Please let’s be clear here: The problem that all mainline liberal religions have is fundamentalism, it isn’t confined to Christianity. Please let us recognize that there are peace-loving Muslims, and Hindus, and Animists, and whatever …

    But does this mean that our (atheists’) stance should be: The enemy of my enemy is my friend? The obvious sub-text here is that we should work with the liberal denominations of religions (which just for the sake of this argument, we’ll define as: Those willing to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from their own): Should we, in fact, embrace accommodationism?

    If you had asked me this question two years ago I would have answered with an emphatic NO. If you search the older versions of this Site you’ll find plenty of evidence.

    My view today is, I dare say, more evolved – the environmental pressure to evolve coming from the need to survive the current strong tide of authoritarian-corporatism which is related to the rise, and rise, of the many religious fundamentalisms, and the loss of free speech from the agglomeration of so-called ‘popular’ outlets for expression. Today we hear so few voices (a few masquerade as many by simply employing different heads with different names, but a steer remains discernible – it remains true, after more than 600 years, that the piper calls the tune) and, as Christopher Hitchens noted, it is our ability to hear – as much as our ability to say – that informs us whether, or not, we have free speech.

    The first person to persuade me of the power of accommodationism was Eugenie Scott, the former head of the NCSE. Not due to any conversation – we’ve never met, not even on-line – but due to the NCSE’s results. The NCSE manage some excellent work by considering their role in wider US society and tailoring their presentation to corral liberal-minded believers while doing some pretty hard-nosed work – like taking fundamentalists to court, and winning.

    The time has come to reconsider that lesson – indeed it may already be too late.

    I remain open to alternative ideas, though the interim result seems certain: It is time to consider how we address the authoritarian rush that, in the West, Russia and China (at the very least), appears unstoppable. In as little as three months from today, people power may be the only bastion left to defend free thought. Britain’s membership of the European Union may be the first domino to fall and, as I write, that is less than 30 days away.

    This is a crisis. Now is not the time to question possible friends about their motives, but to simply embrace fellow travellers as friends.

    Peace.



    Report abuse

  • Although United States is a secularist government US presidents regularly say – “our thoughts and prayers go to”.. Why they mention prayers all the time? If they represent a secularist government then praying should not be their business.



    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.