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1 Mad Prophet Ludwig  Tue, Nov 23, 2010 8:07:04am

I will ding anything that talks about even right wingers in Israel wanting a “new apartheid.” The author went from one xtreme and oversimplified view to another.

2 Steve Dutch  Tue, Nov 23, 2010 8:29:15am

Schaefer is about the only prominent person I can think of who has had a genuine religious conversion. Moderate non-believers tend to become moderate believers, and vice versa. Vindictive, judgmental and angry non-believers tend to become vindictive, judgmental and angry believers, and vice versa. The classic line “I used to get high on drugs, now I get high on Jesus,” tells the story: the person still has to get high on something to cope with life. Schaefer went from being a pretty nasty right winger to a moderate. His book, Crazy for God, is interesting, though I’d like something more on the history of the Religious Right.

3 Randall Gross  Tue, Nov 23, 2010 9:13:41am

re: #1 LudwigVanQuixote

Are you trying to imply that there are zero people in Israel promoting a separatist policy Ludwig? (note that the author was specific and not generally against all Israelis — he used the word “extremist”) Or is this just a knee jerk defense of the Norm and John? You are ignoring the larger point : religion driven politics is generally a bad mix any way you cut it when it comes to geopolitics.

4 Bob Levin  Tue, Nov 23, 2010 2:49:20pm

The title of the article…”or Something Like That” is apt, because I’m not quite sure what Schaeffer is talking about. Yes, there are differences between faiths, yet there are commonalities also—so people who care about their religion can try to understand and build bridges. It’s a reasonable position, a reasonable desire.

If your point is that putting any religious group in charge of anything political is dangerous, that’s a reasonable starting point for discussion. But the problem isn’t religion, the problem is dogmatism. And secular dogmatism is just as dangerous as non-secular dogmatism. I’m defining dogmatism as being so thoroughly convinced that your idea or methods are correct that no amount of empirical evidence to the contrary will change these.

The US State Department is just as dogmatic with their notion of ‘realism’ as any religion. And I would argue that this ‘realism’ has led to disastrous foreign policy decisions, again and again.

Let’s say that your point is that religious fervor is more apt to be dogmatic. Fair point. I’ve had my share of encounters with the fervently religious, both Christian and Jewish. The strength of their arguments hinges on their more extensive knowledge of certain texts. But if your knowledge exceeds theirs, the conversation is over very quickly.

When you bring dogmatism into politics, the results depend upon the political system they are joining. Bring dogmatism into a historical tyranny (tyrants are dogmatic), then you will get the Taliban, the Saudis. It is possible for dogmatics to take over and dismantle a democracy, as in Lebanon. But Hezbollah’s ideology wasn’t as attractive as their guns were persuasive.

In the US, where our democracy is firmly entrenched, elected officials have a short amount of time to produce results or they will lose their position. In appointed positions, they will be fired for not playing along with others.

And the case in Israel is slightly different, and these differences are significant. Because Israel’s democracy is a coalition democracy, the dogmatic elements of the society must compromise to have a seat at the table. Which means that there are parts of their beliefs that interface with others who disagree with them on significant issues. And this interaction is an accepted part of life.

5 Randall Gross  Tue, Nov 23, 2010 4:24:41pm

Points well made — and yes, you caught the essence. It’s fundamentalist/extremist religion that causes problems when it drives politics. In your terminology it’s Dogmatic … but religious zealots tend to be more dogmatic than even tyrants because religious zealotry tends to exclude all else when it comes to making decisions - even tyrants will pursue self interest ahead of their zealotry in most cases, religious zealots tend not to do that.

6 Bob Levin  Tue, Nov 23, 2010 4:59:20pm

re: #5 Thanos

That’s a nice fine distinction. I see that tyrants are perfectly happy to let many others die for their cause—themselves, whereas religious zealots are willing to put themselves on the front line. So, on that basis, if you want to give more dogmatic points to the religious zealots, that’s cool. ;-)


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