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Ben Stein Confessions

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Dissident Heart

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Ben Stein Confessions

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The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.Quote:Here with a few confessions from my beating heart: I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I am buying my dog biscuits and kitty litter. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores. They never know who Nick and Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they have broken up? Why are they so important? I don't know who Lindsay Lohan is either, and I do not care at all about Tom Cruise's wife. Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I am a subversive? Maybe, but I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are.If this is what it means to be no longer young. It's not so bad. Next confession:I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees "Christmas trees". I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: "Christmas trees".It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution, and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too.But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew, went to. In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking.Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her "How could God let something lik e this Happen?" (regarding Katrina).Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, "I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?" (She said the same thing when interviewed after 9-11).In light of recent events...terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found recently) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OKNow we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW."Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell.Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says.Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing.Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.Are you laughing?Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it. Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.Pass it on if you think it has merit. If not, then just discard it... no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.My Best Regards .. honestly and respectfully,Ben Stein Edited by: Dissident Heart at: 12/4/06 3:18 pm
MaesterAuron151

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Interesting I have absolutely no response or opinion on this article. That probably sounds like I just wanted to post and fill up space but I'm genuinely interested in my own indecision. Edited by: MaesterAuron151 at: 12/4/06 3:27 pm
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I have seen this article before last year, or something nearly identical, but it was not from Ben Stine.Furthermore the author (whoever that really is) makes several incorrect statements. Christmas trees were not originally Christian, they were pagan.America is secular not atheist and it is clearly stated in the US Constitution.It is the atheist community that is under attack not the theist. Any noise being created right now is a response to this attack.Since the bulk of the world is theist any blame for its downward spiral must lie mostly with theists. To further this argument nearly no atheists or admitted atheists hold government positions in this country so the fault is not with them. Later
Saint Gasoline

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Christians mistakenly think that preventing the government from publicly endorsing any particular religion is the same as being an atheistic nation. No, my friends, it just means that America is not a theocracy, and that America has religious freedom.People can pray, they can put up Christmas trees, or whatever. The constitution doesn't prevent this. All it prevents is the state from giving power to a particular religion.
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First of all let me make myself clear here. I love Christmas time, I like the music, I like the Christmas trees, and I like the time with friends and family. These facts do not however make me sympathetic to the fundamentalist cause.If you want to get technical about it the "Christmas" tree was stolen from older pagan rituals. I stress stolen, it was not given freely. A thief is not the true owner of the thing they took. Quote:Legally, however the vast majority of America's people are Christian.This is true, but should mean nothing to a secular nation.Quote:Seems kinda like a counter attack to me. Word to the wise. If someone's saying your group's evil it doesn't really help to say "na ah YOUR group's evil" We do not say that the fundamentalists are evil; we say that they are delusional, oppressive, ignorant, manipulative, preachy, selfish, hypocritical, ridiculous buffoons. We say this because it's true.Quote:Ah I see. Since most of the world during WWII wasn't Nazi the blame for Nazism must lie on the rest of the world. Since most of the south was racist during the 50s the civil rights movement must have been caused by the racists.Wow what a ridiculous parallel. The atheist agenda came fourth because the religious groups in this country began a very visible and unapologetic takeover of our government. I for one do not want Christianity to define the laws that I live by. In fact the constitution of my country is supposed to protect me from that very thing. Quote:Come on man, all this whining about "merry Christmas" and nativity scenes, and the pledge of allegiance was brought on by a few Kyle's mom types and I have a feeling that there were several atheist contributors. If you personally don't really care about these things just say so. There's no need to type cast everyone who shares one viewpoint with you.First of all the whining is not coming from the atheists. It is the aarp and other non Christian theists that make the most noise over the Christmas tree. But there are a fair amount of Kyle's mom types out there.The author of the previous article is guilty of manipulating the facts.Later Edited by: Frank 013 at: 12/5/06 11:17 pm
MaesterAuron151

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Quote:Christmas trees were not originally Christian, they were pagan.I don't recal him saying they were originally Christian. If you saw a biker wearing an Iron cross T-Shirt would you assume he's pro Keizer?Quote:America is secular not atheist and it is clearly stated in the US Constitution.Legaly, however the vast majority of America's people are Christian.Quote:It is the atheist community that is under attack not the theist. Any noise being created right now is a response to this attack.Seems kinda like a counter attack to me. Word to the wise. If someone's saying your group's evil it doesn't really help to say "na ah YOUR group's evil"Quote:Since the bulk of the world is theist any blame for its downward spiral must lie mostly with theists. To further this argument nearly no atheists or admitted atheists hold government positions in this country so the fault is not with them.Ah I see. Since most of the world durring WWII wasn't Nazi the blame for Nazism must lie on the rest of the world. Since most of the south was racist durring the 50s the civil rights movement must have been caused by the racists.Come on man, all this whining about "merry christmas" and nativity scenes, and the pledge of allegence was brought on by a few Kyle's mom types and I have a feeling that there were several athiest contributers. If you personally don't really care about these things just say so. There's no need to type cast everyone who shares one viewpoint with you.
funda62

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Quote:Legaly, however the vast majority of America's people are Christian.No, the vast majority of America's people choose to be Christian. There is thankfully no legal requirement to either profess a faith or declare one on our legal documents (as there is in countries like Turkey were even though I left the box blank they put in "muslim" for my daughter anyway).If America ever requires that we place our faith on our driver's liscense or social security cards I'll be turning in my passport. "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, prehaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." -Henry David Thoreau
MaesterAuron151

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Quote:First of all let me make myself clear here. I love Christmas time, I like the music, I like the Christmas trees, and I like the time with friends and family.These facts do not however make me sympathetic to the fundamentalist cause.Nor should theyQuote:If you want to get technical about it the "Christmas" tree was stolen from older pagan rituals. I stress stolen, it was not given freely. A thief is not the true owner of the thing they took.I don't think traditions work that way.Quote:This is true, but should mean nothing to a secular nation.True but its understandable that if stores don't acknowledge a holiday cause they're worried a small minority will be offended by the words "merry christmas" that Christian majority will get a little peeved.Quote: We do not say that the fundamentalists are evil; In a post it said quite clearly that Dawkins as well as others consider not only religeon but tolerance for religeon to be immoral. I'm aware that these authors have a growing fan base.Quote:we say that they are delusional, oppressive, ignorant, manipulative, preachy, selfish, hypocritical, ridiculous buffoons. We say this because it's true.can't argue with that.Quote:Wow what a ridiculous parallel. The atheist agenda came fourth because the religious groups in this country began a very visible and unapologetic takeover of our government.Didn't civil rights come fourth because racists had a strangle hold on the government.Quote:I for one do not want Christianity to define the laws that I live by. In fact the constitution of my country is supposed to protect me from that very thing.IndeedQuote:First of all the whining is not coming from the atheists. It is the aarp and other non Christian theists that make the most noise over the Christmas tree.But there are a fair amount of Kyle's mom types out there.The author of the previous article is guilty of manipulating the facts.I'm sure some of the whining comes from athiests. I wasn't just talking about Christmas trees.
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B. Stein: They never know who Nick and Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they have broken up?Mr. Stein is unwilling to extend his critique towards a Market Morality that commodifies all things, turning Persons into Its, objects to be consumed and thrown away. Perhaps he would find that so much of the banality that pervades popular culture is the result of a profoundly dysfunctional economic system...people trapped in meaningless jobs doing pointless work hungry for escape and excitement, something to rouse their spirits and numb their pain...why not live vicariously through beautiful Celebrities full of youth and wealth?B. Stein I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees "Christmas trees". I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto.I love Christmas trees too and think its a gorgeus way to bring light and color to the darkest and coldest time of year. Mr. Stein has every right to dismiss the last few millenia of Christian anti-semitism and anti-judaism as no longer a threat...but he might do well to scratch beneath the surface and consider what would happen if the tables were turned on all of his Christian bretheren if they were forced to see Menorrahs or Stars of David everywhere and having to listen to piped Hebrew songs in stores and Jewish holiday specials on television....in any case, those of his Jewish bretheren who are not so easily enamored, and painfully reminded of darker histories, are important voices to remind us of what should never happen again.B. Stein: I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians.Nobody likes to be disrespected or devalued or denigrated or assaulted, for any reason. If people are being challenged for irresponsible behavior and being called to account for ways that their lifestyles offend the common good or basic decency...then, whether Jew or Christian or Atheist or Muslim, this is part of the challenge of building polity. The difference between being a Jew and being a Christian is more complex, considering that in amny cases (but hardly universally defined) being Jew is an ethnic characterisation extending beyond belief and tied to geneological traits not determined by personal choice. And, obviously, the Imperial Christianity that has unleashed so much damage on Jews throughout this violent sibling history is nowhere near parallel to contemporary criticism of Christians and Christianity.B. Stein: I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period.As I see it, Atheists are worst at making distinctions in this matter...lumping all Theists as bottom line mentally deficient, showing a glaring inability distinguish between the varieities of ways that Americans (and humans) approach what they mean by God. One result is that those who endorse the dominant Theistic Hegemon (of which I include Ben Stein) are seen as the only Theism in town, no alternatives, just their style of imperialist, dominator, patriarchial, militarist, punitive Theism.Any sort of Hegemony sees any degree of criticism as too much. The smallest voice of dissent is seen as unacceptable: thus the fairly limited voice of Atheist critique is described as actually pushing around the overwhelmingly larger population of God folk. It's beyond ludicrous.B. Stein: But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew, went to.Back to the "good ol' days" Mr. Stein? Like Bill O'Reilly, Mr. Stein suffers from a brand of Traditionalism that readily denies terrible histories civil rights abuses, ecological disregard, patrairchial abuses, racist social norms, violent homes...for some sort of safer, cleaner, better time. And who is to blame? Those victims who have joined in solidarity to challenge the traditional stsructures of racist, misogynist, dominator models of familial, corporate and ecological life. A. Graham: I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?"This is hardly the only model of Theism for which to address tragedy and suffering. It is the kind of Patriarchial framework that Mr. Stein laments for from the "good ol' days"...dominant Men in control of choices, planning, production of the social and political life. If we choose to construct our lives with other models, more egalitarian and participatory with diverse belief systems and allowing for critical thinking and dissent, then we lose the imaginary protection of Big Daddy...and we suffer for our own good. B. Stein: if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW."I absolutely agree, but I see a far different crop planted by way of the Traditionalist fantasy he espouses: poisonous weeds of racist supremacy, patriarchial domination, imperialist militarism, economic class warfare and depersonalizing commodification, theistic hegemony...all of which have been the dominant mode of polity in the USA far longer the last four or five decades of the civil rights revolution that have boldly challenged all models of Hegemony.I think the challenge against Hegemony (which is the job of dissenters and freethinkers everywhere) can and must include Atheists and Theists alike...and the Atheists who lump all Theists under the dominant Theistic Hegemony aare missing crucial alliance building opportunities and simply allowing folks like Graham and Stein to appropriate the force of Theism to their deluded notions of Traditional "good ol' days".
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Frank 013: If you want to get technical about it the "Christmas" tree was stolen from older pagan rituals. I stress stolen, it was not given freely.Can you point me to some resource that backs that claim? My understanding is that converted peoples often held onto certain native traditions, and that the Church's official policy in some eras was to allow such retention, so long as it could be made reasonably conformable to Catholic doctrine. I'm not entirely sure how the Church could "steal" an emblem like that.The atheist agenda came fourth because the religious groups in this country began a very visible and unapologetic takeover of our government.And I think that the atheist agenda has been very naive in its persistent treatment of the "religious right" as being a primarily religious group. Its agenda and the majority of its activity are political, so wouldn't it make more sense to treat it as a political entity? I'd even be so bold to suggest that the constant religious rhetoric and pious displays are more often than not smokescreens which function to put opposition on the wrong track. Most of these fundamentalist political types are the same sort of guys who, 20 years back, would have made their careers pretending to be fervent believers on the revivalist track. Somewhere along the line, though, they got savvy to the fact that they could convert the same sort of money-making scheme into a different kind of power. The dismaying thing about it is that we as a culture haven't really caught up just yet. Most of us smirk when we see a televangelist in a cheap suit parading around in front of a gaudy faux marble stage. We regard it as a 50/50 proposition as to whether or not he believes more in his own sermon or in the collection plates getting passed around, but we rarely think to apply the same skepticism to politicians who traffic in almost exactly the same rhetoric and techniques.Having learned the very simple trick of pretending to be a fundamentalist, a politician or lobbyist can make as many points as he wants to in favor of a conservative economy, in favor of reducing corporate responsibility, in favor of hostile foreign policy -- and still feel fairly confident that his opposition will spend more time talking about separation of church and state than it will attacking the actual political points he's made. And knowing that there is a large constituency of fundamentalist voters who -- whether or not they are -- feel disenfranchised, he can string those same policies along with the assurance that he'll oppose abortion, and get their vote despite the fact that 9/10ths of the policies he supports are contrary to their best interests.All he has to do is play his game well enough that everyone else is lulled into playing it as well. And every time you guys harp on the attempts of fundies to make a theocracy of American politics, you're playing that game. The best way to make it impractical to wage televangelist politics is to stop making an issue of a politicians professed religious beliefs and start making issues of the policies they support. Forced to actually discuss those policies, forced to explain the contradictions that they might otherwise dodge, they'll find it hard-pressed to continue swaying the vote.
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