Friday, September 16, 2005
Liberal Columnist Uses Katrina to Attack Christians
A liberal co-worker pointed out Melinda Henneberger's article, "Overturning the Gospels," in the online edition of Newsweek by sending me an email with the subject line: "Someone who gets it!"
The problem is that Melinda Henneberger doesn't get it. I wonder if she even has a clue. She starts out by makeing the point that this is not a Bible verse: "God helps those who help themselves." She quotes Bill McKibben from Harper's who references a five year old unknown survey by a marketing research company, The Barna Group, that supposedly states that 3 out of 4 Americans think this is a Bible verse. (I assume The Barna Group is the source of this as it is the only place I could locate a survey on this subject.) The Barna Group had two places on their site that had a reference to this. In one spot Barna refers to the subjects of the survey as "born again Christians." Another place says the subjects are a random sampling 1002 adults from the general population. One could quibble over the validity of the survey(s) but it's really not that important.
I wonder how long and far McKibben had to look to find this info. It must have been really important to him to find something negative about Christian religious belief even though if it was a sampling of the general population about 23% weren't Christian. Check it out at U.S Census.
Melinda continues on:
Now, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we have seen—and been unable to look away from— the direct result of this self-deception.?!?! Self-deception because a portion of the people, maybe or maybe not Christian, aren't sure of the source of a single sentence.
We as a nation—a proudly, increasingly loudly Christian nation—have somehow convinced ourselves that the selfish choice is usually the moral one, too.The admonition "God helps those who help themselves" was taught to me in parochial school as a mesage to do everything you can to succeed, do the right thing, drive carefully (yes, drive carefull), and be a good person and God will help you. If you don't put forth effort, God won't put forth much effort to help you.
What I was taught certainly seems different than Melinda's opinion. Part of being a good person is helping others. Additionally, Melinda may be too young to remember how loudly Christian this nation was 30, 40 years ago and more.
Melinda goes on and on:
Thus do we deny the working poor a living wage, resent welfare recipients expected to live on a few hundred dollars a month, object to the whopping .16 percent of our GNP that goes to foreign aid—and still manage to feel virtuous about all of the above.Where does this "we" come from? Maybe she's denying someone a live wage but I'm just doing the best I can to get by myself. She's not describing anyone I know.
The next paragraph starts with:
Which is how "Christian'' morality got to be all about other people's sex lives...What?!?! What a leap!!! She continues:
Less so. Telling gay people what they can't do? Piece o' cake. But responding to the wretched? Loving the unlovable? Forgiving the ever-so-occasionally annoying people you actually know?The crux of it all, Christians are horrible because they won't endorse gay marriage. I wonder how long it will be until the liberals will start putting people in jail because they oppose homosexuality and gay marriage as in Canada. Maybe Melinda would prefer Christians deal with gays the way Muslims do.
Melinda continues to ramble for a few more paragraphs with examples of how this action or that comment points out how bad Christians and/or Bush are, how suspending some environmental regulations concerning gas is a bad thing, etc., etc. Melinda does not seem to be able to make the distinction between Bush, Christians, environmental issues, energy supply concerns and maybe anything.
Maybe Melinda feels really guilty for having it all. She's married to an editor at the Washington Post and lives in Maryland. I bet it's not a neighborhood anything like the 9th Ward in New Orleans. She and her family probably have more money than they really "need." They should give it to the Salvation Army, a nice Christian organization that does all the things she claims Christians don't. Or, she could spread it out amongst all those churchs that provided shelter for the refugees
Melinda ends with this:
I still dare to hope Democrats may yet remember why they are Democrats, though. And that would be a real come-to-Jesus moment.Why are Democrats Democrats. God only knows.
This is what being a Democrat was for one man:
And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.Melinda overturns this philosophy. For her its all about what the country can do for you.
My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
You're either missing the point entirely or using semantic nitpicking in a lame attempt to refute the author's point.
The point is that "God helps people who help themselves" is a selfish philosophy which has become far too popular in our society.
And YOU missed the point that considering all the aid that Christian churches, the Salvation Army (very Christian), Catholic Relief Services, etc. gave, Christians acted in any way but selfish. Ms. Henneberger seems to be equating all American Christians with her perception of George Bush and a few others.
Having been a psych major in college, I know that people often project the qualities in themselves onto other people and groups. Maybe Ms. Henneberger and others like her herself are projecting their own selfishness onto others.
The weekend before Katrina, radio talk show host Mike McConnell on WLW radio in Cincinnati had very interesting statisics regarding how the people in states that voted for Bush, despite having lower average incomes, gave more money to charity than states that voted for Kerry.
I don't care about Bush or Kerry but I do care about people makeing dishonest, unwarranted attachs on religious groups.
We linked to the same Newsweek article, for wildly different reasons. (I just found out that Newsweek keeps a log of blogs who link to their articles through Technorati) I was intrigued by the title of your post "Liberal Columnist Uses Katrina to Attack Christians," for several reasons.
First of all, as a Christian (though, for the sake of full disclosure, a Christian who falls on the left side of issues more than the right) I read the article in a far more favorable light than you did. You do make some very good points however, especially the "I'm not denying someone a living wage, I'm just doing the best I can to get by myself." You also point out something I didn't see when I read it, that she doesn't make a distinction between Bush, Christians, issues et al.
So it is obvious that we are reading the same article, but taking away very different things. For example, as a Christian and a Catholic, I am disturbed that many of our American 'Christian' leaders do seem far more interested in people's sex lives than they are with charity and other, more personal tenets of morality.
Whenever the likes of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and John Hagee speak, they seem to be far more interested in casting people who disagree with them into Hell and saying outrageous things than they seem to care about spreading the gospels. They seem to ignore the indiscretions of the Newt Gingriches of the world while excoriating the Bill Clintons. They seem far different from the actual parishoners I know at mass who contribute to charity and follow the "love thy neighbor" instructions we were given. But those 'Christian' leaders have the microphone and the airtime, so what they are saying is what I see (and become angry at) far more often than the true Christians who I live and work with.
That sort of misbehavior on the parts of the big dogs drove me away from the Church for a very long time, and it is still hard to make the distinction sometimes, and I want to lump Christians all into the same category.
Does that make sense?
One other thing I am very interested in persuing is why you seem to think all liberals are out to destroy Christianity. I get this same thing from my parents and my conservative friends. I know we have some real moonbats on my side of the aisle, but I get the idea that folks like you seem to think that folks like me are just sitting around in smoky coffee shop basements, sipping lattes and sharpening our knives, planning to spring our next big trap on small town America on our way to turn everyone into communists and Muslims.
Where did y'all get that idea?
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