Smart people saying smart things

Suzannah Paul: “I am the 47 percent”

We’re several months out from receiving WIC benefits and doing okay. More than okay: our needs are met and some wants, too, like signing up our little ones for tumbling at the Y.

Despite all that, we’re still the 47%, those people (like teachers at Christian schools, disabled veterans, and your grandma, for goodness sake) who are basically The Worst for earning wages below the threshold of respectability.

Folks like me. Pleased to make your acquaintance.

Rabbi Dennis S. Ross and the Rev. Tom Davis: “Birth Control and ‘The Myth of the Judeo-Christian Tradition'”

Many U.S. rabbis and ministers have long recognized the moral wisdom of ensuring wide availability of safe and effective birth control. Beginning in the late 1920s and the ’30s, many Jewish and Protestant groups formally endorsed access, including rabbis from Reform and Conservative Judaism, and ministers from Episcopal, Baptist, Congregational, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches. Clergy came forward with the support of their faith teachings, underscored by their real-life experience. The pastors were invited into the daily and private lives of congregants to witness, first-hand, that the ability to control one’s child-bearing makes for healthier children and mothers and for stronger families and communities.

Christa Brown: “Megachurch calls cops on member who speaks out”

You’d think there would be somebody in the mega-sized-leadership of this mega-sized-church who would do the right thing, wouldn’t you?

You’d be wrong.

So far, they have not only failed to do the right thing – over and over again – but they have affirmatively done the wrong things – over and over again. For two decades, Graham and other Prestonwood church leaders kept the allegations against their former minister under wraps, and in doing so, they allowed many more kids to be placed at risk of sexual predation. And now, they try to bully a member who simply seeks to ask some questions.

Marianne Møllmann: “Ending Violence Against Women Shouldn’t Be Controversial — But It Is”

The main theme of this year’s meeting is violence against women. This is not a new, obscure issue that should require more than two weeks’ discussion to reach an agreement about steps forward. Prevent, protect, prosecute, punish—it is not that complicated.

More to the point, violence against women requires urgent attention. At least 1 in 3 women has been beaten, forced to have sex, or otherwise abused at some point in her life. Most often the perpetrator is someone she knows, and frequently it is not a one-off incident. Furthermore, domestic violence contributes to a culture of violence; boys who witness their fathers beat up their mothers are, as adults, twice as likely to abuse their own partners as those who grew up in homes without violence.

Gordon Atkinson: “I’m All In”

The idea of God does not always make sense to me. If I pay close attention to how reality unfolds in this world, the idea of a cold and impersonal universe, driven by chance and natural selection seems a rational conclusion. Such a point of view certainly solves a lot of logical problems. No wonder all this awful shit is happening. No one who cares about us is running the show.

But here is a crazy thing. The more I’m convinced that there is no loving Creator watching over us, the more likely I am to receive an emotional epiphany during worship. I will be sitting in church somewhere — often a powerless and humble church without much money or influence — and some little thing will shatter my heart. Often it will be a small piece of liturgy or an ancient symbol that points to one of the crazy, backwards, upside-down gospel truths that Jesus was famous for proclaiming. The call for us to become like children, the thought that the least important person might be the greatest, or the impossible idea that we should love our enemies.


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  • Edo

    I remember when 47% surfaced the first time. It was a Tea Party thing, in response to the then-current Occupy tumblr “We are the 99%.” (Which I just went back to. Two years later it’s still going strong.)

    I remember, sorta, when Mitt Romney once again shot himself in the foot by bringing up the 47%, which he hatesesed, precious.

    Thank you for resurrecting what I thought was a dead meme, Fred. And thank you for reminding me that it’s not dead. And that it’s not a meme. And that it’s people.

    Because I’d forgotten. And I am ashamed for it.

  • Nathaniel

    I’ll admit, its a bit refreshing to have a theist admit that their beliefs are irrational and based on completely in brain experiences. 

  • It’s been about three years since I was in the 47%. My first year on my own after my law partnership broke up was rough and I’ve been fighting uphill ever since, but after the first year, I at least had taxable income. And I’ve had it better than many, as I have several friends who work 40 hour weeks and still don’t pay taxes. That statistic is why I laugh bitterly at the suggestion that America is a Christian nation. Because there is nothing Christian about the visceral hatred for the poor and less fortunate that most Americans seem to have.

  • Lori

      “You might not want to tell them you work here. They might revoke your diploma.” 

    The woman who said this is lucky she didn’t get slapped. That’s what she deserved. Smug, stupid, self-righteous ass. I suppose that a truly good person would not wish for her to one day find herself in reduced circumstances and looking back on that moment with the shame it deserves. I’m not that good of a person, and I’m OK with that.

  • Antigone10

    People who describe religious ecstasy are sort of like people who describe runners’ high- I have no reason to believe that they are lying, but despite years of going and being active in church (and running on the track team) I have experienced neither.  So, it’s not a terribly compelling reason to discount the evidence of my eyes and experience. Namely, church is boring, god either doesn’t exist or doesn’t care and running is a chore.  I’m stuck making my own moral code.

  • Tricksterson

    I really wish people ould stop referring to the “47%”  The election proved that it’s at least 51% and should act accordingly as the majority, not a minority..

  • Sure, but it’s fun to mock Romney over it.

    Also, there are a bunch of bootstrappy folks who are all “We are the 53%” and shit. Check it out, first on that tumblr is some white lady who did the whole “I worked two jobs walking uphill both ways I pay taxes I am not a bum so THERE” thing.

  • 47% is not a statement of identity, it’s an actual statistic. 47% of the United States does not pay income taxes. There are numerous reasons for this–the vast majority of this number is made up of people too young or too old to work, for one!–which only make the statement that much more damning.

    When Romney uttered the words, he expected people to imagine black welfare recipients lazing around with their feet on the table, living the life of luxury at everybody’s expense. He wanted them to imagine stripping this strawman of his benefits and making him go get a job, as obviously everyone can very easily do and many just choose not to.

    He did not expect people to turn and look at Little Suzy or Grandma and imagine them being thrown to the wolves.

    The >51% saw the latter because that’s what it is.

  • I know what Gordon Atkinson speaks of.  I’ve felt similar feelings of indescribable ecstasy and connectedness while standing in a forest surrounded by nature.  I’ve felt it during deep meditation, too.  As he has described, it comes of its own accord.  You can’t force it.  And it is beautiful in a way that words, logic, and so many other systems of symbolism and communication can not capture.

    Here’s the thing: I’m not Christian.  In fact, I’ve embraced variations of atheism and/or agnosticism throughout my adult life and I’ve had these deeply spiritual experiences only as an adult.  I didn’t experience anything akin to spirituality until I left the oppressive culture of traditional Christianity.  I’ve also encountered other people of various non-Christian faiths and belief systems who have experienced similar things.  Jesus and the Abrahamic god are not prerequisites.

    I don’t claim to know the source of these ineffable experiences.  I’m willing to accept that there’s a lot of stuff in the universe that I simply don’t understand and probably never will.  Given that so many people have experiences like this from so many backgrounds, I’m not willing to lay claim to the experience and say that it’s exclusively theist, non-theist, Christian, rationalist, Buddhist, Muslim, or whatever.

    Also, not everybody has had this experience.  If you haven’t had it, it’s extremely difficult to fully grasp.  The experience doesn’t make me better than others… just different.  I am, however, happy to have had the experience.  It’s beautiful.  Some have seen the Grand Canyon and some have not.  Seeing the Grand Canyon doesn’t make you a better person.  It can help open one’s eyes to the breadth of incredible beauty in the world, though.

  • Ygorbla

    Prestonwood is also trying to cover up the scandal with Langworthy and Tynes on their Wikipedia page, removing it repeatedly: