By Martha Woodroof
Is it OK to Intolerate Newt?
I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to put up with it anymore! Or at least, not for the next few paragraphs. After that, if you say I must, I’ll do my best to calm down.
How, I want to know, does Newt Gingrich think he can get away it? How dare he claim to know that America operates under an “unprecedented set of rights granted by God”? Does he expect us to believe he gets information directly from the Almighty; God’s lips to Newt’s ear? Did God speak English, I wonder? Or did Newt speak God? Did Newt find his information written on scrolls in some Georgia cave?
And I just dare Newt to start talking about the Bible as his source of information! There’s not one word in that book about America.
Obviously, it makes me beyond furious when politicians start spewing such drek in God’s name, disrespecting and diminishing the Almighty, co-opting the great Whatever as an American cheerleader! It’s inexcusable at any time, and it just might be wicked during times when Americans are generally worried about almost everything and leaning heavily on the God of their understanding for something more useful than jingoistic nonsense.
But, on the other hand, I do try to be tolerant and broad-minded, and rule #1 of the tolerant and broad-minded is: Thou shalt not get hot and bothered about other people’s religious beliefs.
What I want to know from you is does that rule apply to Newt in this instance?
It seems to me it comes down to what it means to be tolerant and broadminded. For me, tolerance is being fearlessly curious and non-judgmental about whatever I come up against; broadmindedness, changing my mind when I’m presented with compelling evidence that what I’ve been thinking is either wrong or based on incomplete information.
As a person of faith who is not religious, (i.e. I live in partnership with God, the great Whatever), I see my ability to be tolerant and broad-minded as part and parcel of my faith. It comes, in other words, along with that partnership. Being tolerant and broadminded is my relationship with God in action.
But I just cannot bring myself to think that means I’m not allowed to shout liar, liar pants on fire! when Newt (or any other politician) starts spewing nonsense about God. And this goes back to my personal belief in not just God, but also in the devil.
Now please understand that when I talk about “God,” it’s not some partisan deity who uses politicians as spokespeople, but whatever is in me (and in you) that gives us the guts and the desire to face the world as it actually is, and do our best to help sort out its very real problems.
When I talk about the devil, it’s not an entity who lives somewhere hot, but whatever force weakens my grasp on reality, in favor of what I’d be more comfortable with. Or whatever advances my own personal agenda. I think it’s the devil’s lips that whisper to us it’s okay to lie, cheat, or steal as long as we give God credit for our actions.
God’s lips to Newt’s ear? Hmmmm. . . I wonder.
Help me out here. Please. What’s a tolerant and broad-minded person to do about Newt? Or more generally, what’s a tolerant and broadminded person to do about anyone who hustles for political power and personal gain in God’s name?
Martha note: This is round eight of Faith Unboxed, an ongoing, civil, respectful conversation about faith I invite you to participate by sharing your own ideas and experiences (either here or on the website), rather than by denigrating the ideas and experiences of others.