Cogito ergo blogito? Well, not necessarily. Sometimes I blog not simply because I think—I mean, we all think, right?—but because I want to develop and clarify my thinking, as in my last post, “Pipe dreams.“ Sometimes I blog because I want to express my particular point of view, as in “Windows on the world,“ or to explain why I don’t go out to lunch, as in “Mr. Otis regrets.“ Sometimes I just want to make what’s on my mind a little clearer in my mind.
I am, after all, a writer. Words are what I deal with. Putting them together makes me think. Basically I blog because I want to express what I’m thinking about. It’s the perfect activity for the solipsistically inclined. And as a kind of bonus, however remote the possibility, there is the hope that someone might read it and even think about it. That’s a form of vanity that writers are particularly susceptible to. Columnists and bloggers—perhaps especially columnists and bloggers—are not immune to the gratifyingly smug feeling that they have something to say even when they don’t. Most often they don’t.
Today I’m mad, mad as in angry and disgusted. I have not the slightest hope that what I write here will influence anyone. Those who believe will continue to believe and those who don’t, won’t. I have nothing to say that hasn’t already been said over and over again—in newspapers, in op-ed columns like those I used to write for The Washington Post, in radio and television chatter shows, in articles and books, at the water cooler and on the street. So why am I bothering to repeat it? Because I’m mad. Here’s why: this headline in Slate this morning:
Pastor Who Called Mormonism a “Cult” Backs Romney
Rev. Robert Jeffress said he’d rather have a Mormon like Romney than a Christian like Obama in the White House.
So Rev. Jeffress has changed his mind, not about Obama but about Mormons. A few months ago he believed them to be the devil’s spawn. But they do, after all, oppose abortion and gay marriage, the great evils of our time. (I didn’t see anything about wars or famine or the crimes committed in the name of one God or another.)
I ask you, when did adherence not only to a particular religion but to the tenets of one subset of one sect of that religion become a prerequisite to the presidency of the United States or other public office, high or low? We’re not electing a pope. (When it comes to the Church of Rome, Jeffress is closer to the whore-of-Babylon school.) What, I wonder, if Romney were an Orthodox Jew or—Heaven forfend!—a Muslim? Would Rev. Jeffress prefer a Muslim who echoes his own firm beliefs about the evils of abortion and “the gay agenda”? (Maybe he doesn’t know that fundamentalist Muslims and Orthodox Jews, too, are generally with him there.)
Probably not a Muslim. When Jeffress denounced the Koran and its adherents as evil—promoting pedophilia, etc.—the congregation in the First Baptist Church in Dallas gave him a standing ovation. The church has ten thousand members.
The extreme fundamentalists in this country act as if the country were or ought to be a theocracy, founded on the Puritan principles of the Pilgrims, God-fearing Calvinists obsessed with sin and witchcraft, practitioners of which were hanged. Instead, our country was founded on the principles of the Enlightenment, a European import admired by Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and the signers of our founding documents. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and especially the Bill of Rights embody these principles, not the principles of that other European import, Calvinism. All of us, including the extreme religious right, ought to be grateful for that.
Anybody who is still with me most likely agrees with me. If they don’t agree, well, less power to them. I didn’t expect to change anyone’s mind. I just wanted to get it off my chest.