NATO ally and prosepective European Union member, Turkey, is going through a Presidential decision perhaps more monumental than the one in France. The whole story is that there is more story than I can really sink my teeth into, and it has all been below the fold type stuff, despite how desperately important it is for some attention to be paid. Meanwhile, a host of things I've been reading this week are about religion, and they segue into this post as completely, utterly and distinctly related.
More after the jump:
Over in Anatolia, the folks marching in the streets are carrying some of the most direct and heartwrenching signs I've ever heard of. They say: NO SHARIA, NO COUP. What a line to walk, that place where the fear is so palpable that you could lose your westernized society to either religious dictatorship or military dictatorship by the end of the business day.
Thousands, marching to keep secularism in government. The fear of Islamization being touched off by a candidate's wife's choice to wear a headscarf. I mean, are headscarves really so threatening, if they're a personal choice? I guess I would know, as the Island City constabulary saw fit to look me over three times in 24 hours for wearing a red bandana.
At least I wasn't in England. At least my bandana has no religious connotation. Then I'd be in real trouble.
And that's our segue. The question being asked all around the world right now is not whose religion is better, whose is a 'religion of peace' and whose is a religion of war, the question being asked is thus: is your religion expressed internally or externally? Do you walk your religion or do you talk your religion? Does your expression of religion make you want to listen to people who disagree with you or attack people who disagree with you?
Where is that line? Because tolerance, open society, freedom, multiculturalism - these things are about expressing yourself for yourself alone, respecting that others may disagree with you and not hurting anyone else along the way.
These things are: I'll wear my bandana and you wear your burka and this other guy dresses up in Mardi Gras Indian costume beads; and if we live in New Orleans we all cheer the Saints and if we live in Athens it is OK if we all bark loudly like a Dawg and that's OK because you are not me and I am not you and we understand that. If there is any confusion over where the lines are, we can handle that person to person like grown-ups; I won't stand on your porch at 4 in the morning barking like a Dawg and you won't go around naked in front of my kids and I won't take my kids to Bourbon Street when that time of the year is on us where you'll be running around naked.
Fair enough. We used to call this stuff the 'social contract' and a lot of people were on board. We had towering giants to help us find our way down that winding path, and despite their flaws we ended up better for it.
We're sorry that the folks who weren't on board are now running the show and hogging the microphone. We're working on that. You keep marching in Turkey and voting in France, and we'll keep blogging and wading and blowin' jazz around New Orleans, we'll keep raising babies right back in Georgia and one day we'll all meet somewhere in the middle and realize we were just too much for those folks who weren't on board and they've all gone back into hiding.
But before I get ahead of myself....
Another part of it was: if you date someone I don't like, I might make fun of you. That's it. I would never, ever, ever stone you to death (brutal link) and will see, in your absence, that the sonuvabitch(es) who did is prosectued to the fullest extent of the law in a place like Texas and not in a place like Germany, where they appear to be confused.
And if you don't like coming in close contact with our ladies, that's cool. So long as you're not resorting to violence, we are cool. Your loss anyway. More ladies for me to hang out with, despite my Zero Game. But we can still play a game, all of us, we'd just kick your ass at golf where you don't have to stand within 400 yards of the ladies. Because we had senses of humor and grew up on an Island.
Because that's what I think about when I hear about folks in Turkey marching to keep secularism in government. Over a headscarf, among other things.
And before anyone goes away thinking this is centered on one religion, I don't mean for it to be that way. Every religion has its internalizers and every religion has its externalizers, and I make no bones about who I think the problems come from. Can you imagine an American march to keep secularism in government? Could we even have a real one here? I think it would just end up on Fox News and Bill O'Reilly as 'proof' of the ebil conspiracy to keep white, affluent Christians down in America. It would be the war on Christmas all over again.
I know this would happen, you know this would happen. The proof? I get emails from folks here, folks I dearly love. These emails use as examples of religious tolerance and plurality the nations of Israel, Iraq, and China. When Christians start quoting "when in Rome," it ain't a good thing, historically speaking. Have a look:
Paul Harvey says:
I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I'm not going to sue somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December. I don't agree with Darwin, but I didn't go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught his Theory of Evolution
Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game.
So what's the big deal? It's not like somebody is up there reading the entire book of Acts. They're just talking to a God they believe in and asking him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going home from the game.
But it's a Christian prayer, some will argue.
Yes, and this is the United States of America, a country founded on Christian principles. According to our very own phone book, Christian churches outnumber all others better than 200-to-1. So what would you expect -- somebody chanting Hare Krishna?
If I went to a football game in Jerusalem, I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer.
If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad, I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer.
If I went to a ping pong match in China, I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha.
And I wouldn't be offended.
It wouldn't bother me one bit.
When in Rome .
But what about the atheists? is another argument.
What about them?
Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We're not going to pass the collection plate. Just humor us for 30 seconds. If that's asking too much, bring a Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the concession stand. Call your lawyer!
Unfortunately, one or two will make that call. One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do. I don't think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world's foundations.
Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights. Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating; to pray before we go to sleep.
Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now a
handful of people and their lawyers are telling us
to cease praying.
God, help us.
And if that last sentence offends you, well . .. just sue me.
The silent majority has been silent too long.. It's time we let that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard that the vast majority don't care what they want. It is time the majority rules! It's time we tell them, you don't have to pray; you don't have to say the pledge of allegiance; you don't have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him. That is your right, and we will honor your right ... But by golly, you are no longer going to take our rights away. We are fighting back ... and we WILL WIN!
God bless us one and all ... especially those who denounce Him, God bless America, despite all her faults. She is still the greatest nation of all.
God bless our service men who are fighting to protect our right to pray and worship God.
May 2007 be the year the silent majority is heard and we put God back as the foundation of our families and institutions.
Keep looking up.