Friday, December 20, 2013

What Elephant In The Room?

I've quoted the following sentence from chapter 52 of Nietzsche's Antichristso often that I'm sure I must sound like a broken record to some of my readers. It's just that it has proven itself over and over again to be true, and I haven't been able to improve upon it, and I'm not going to pretend that I and not Nietzsche came up with it: "'Glaube' heißt Nicht-wissen-wollen, was wahr ist." ("Having religious faith means not wanting to know what is true.")

I'm imagining how Nietzsche may have tried over and over again to have sensible conversations with religious people about religion before he came to the sad conclusion expressed in that famous sentence. (I'm not the only one who has repeatedly quoted it.) But they don't wanna know. They may be very intelligent, you may be able to have sensible conversations with them on every conceivable non-religious topic, but as soon as a religious topic comes up, it's simply a no-go.

A recent, horribly-familiar example (These things are horribly familiar because they occur with even greater regularity than me quoting "'Glaube' heißt Nicht-wissen-wollen, was wahr ist." It's Groundhog Day --or so I gather. I've never watched the movie, but from what I hear, the hero, Bill Murray, repeats the same day over and over and it becomes nightmarish. Seeing an otherwise-intelligent person's brain switch off when the topic of conversation turns to religion is nightmarish.) is the reaction of "progressive" Christians (They may well be both progressive and Christian -- just not at the same time, imho.) to the fooferah over the Duck Dynasty doofus and his homophobic comments.

The Duck Dynasty doofus is a Christian. Because of the publicity his recent nasty remarks have gotten, "progressive" Christians are rhetorically asking, "Is homophobia Christian? Is Christianity homophobic?" Rhetorically, of course, because they have no intention of really looking into that question, they have their own answer ready, and any intelligent commentary on the subject is going to annoy them greatly. They're going to avoid any real discussion of the matter the way ducks avoid deserts. Their answer is that Christianity is not homophobic. Which of course is a thoroughly absurd thing to say about a religion which was extremely uniformly and harshly homophobic for its first 1950 years or so, and which in the several decades since then has gradually begun to change, but still, unfortunately, is probably deeply homophobic in its majority.

I was about to add something like "It's very easy to learn the truth about the history of Christianity," but of course for most people it isn't easy at all. I was thinking of people like myself, who, when they are curious about an historical topic, refer to primary sources: things written in the historical period under consideration. In this case, things written at various times over the course of the past 2000 years. But of course, I'm not like most people. Most people study history by reading recent authors and deciding which ones they trust. (Trust ME!) And most of the people writing about the history of Christianity are Christian apologets who can't write four words without lying three times. Or is it a lie when you don't want to know the truth? In any case, in this example of Christianity and homosexuality, a "progressive" Christian theologian will most likely offer up an interpretation of the New Testament which supports the position that Jesus Christ didn't oppose homosexuality. This will involve either completely ignoring Matthew 5:17-18, where Jesus is portrayed as saying that he supports Old Testament law completely, or claiming that Jesus never actually said that, or "interpreting" Matthew 5:17-18 to make it seem that it says something other than what it clearly says -- I can think of terms other than "interpretation" to describe this, but none of them are even remotely polite -- or claiming that Old Testament law was not homophobic, which is as ridiculous as it is currently popular among "progressive" Christian and Jewish theologians.

And of course, no matter what sort of pretzel-logic, insult-to-reason-and-truth "interpretation" the Bible is subjected to, there remain 1900 more years' worth of Christianity which need to be hidden somehow in order to back up a thesis as ridiculous as "Christianity is not homophobic." Either that, or the "interpretation" means that those intervening 1900 years simply do not count and there's a do-over, which is much more ridiculous still than any Bible "interpretation."

But of course, theology is ridiculous, and growing ever more so the more we learn about -- anything. The will not to know is staggering. Or in the cases of a few tortured souls, I'm sure, the will to know all sorts of things and keep them from the public.

I'm glad that these "progressive" theologians are not homophobic and are speaking out against homophobia. But I can't ignore the ridiculousness of their claims that their religions have never been homophobic. If I were able to ignore things which are as obvious as that, I might be a theologian myself. And who's to say they're not better off? Ignorance is bliss, they say. So they say.

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