Dear Liberal Friends: this is why you should embrace religion

One acute thing that the last few years have demonstrated is the effectiveness of religious organizations.

Conservatives have proven that.

There are many ways you can look at religious groups and how they function but I’m going to focus on the socio-political function.

Religious organizations function like weekly meetings to form social strategy

Every week a group of people gets together to talk about how the world should be

Every week that group talks about what they can do as a group to make the world the way they want it to be

Every week that group talks about what each individual can do on their own to make the world the way they want it to be

And it’s not just about strategies

It’s also about reinforcing identity

Every week the group reaffirms their beliefs

Every week they expound upon the pervasive nature of their beliefs, how they should impact each individual

Every week they recommit to their common purpose

Not just once a week either

Many religious groups meet multiple times a week in different contexts

And I know a lot of liberal individuals who have their own social support system and peer groups

But this is not the same

This isn’t a meeting about hobby or leisure but purpose

Religious organizations are about investing in your identity over and over again

Perpetuating your beliefs not just as an individual but as a collective

Ingraining those beliefs so pervasively that they inform every decision and action you make

Coordinating and harmonizing your beliefs so that when the individuals in the group act, the group acts as one

And I know what comes next from a lot of people: yeah but I don’t want to shove my religious beliefs down someone else’s throat!

Don’t you though?

You believe in LGBTQ+ equality and representation, don’t you want people to know that? Don’t you want to advocate for it? Don’t you want to be a public voice for it? Isn’t it more than a personal belief you wish to keep to yourself?

Same for refugees and immigrants?

Same for ethnic minorities?

Same for reproductive rights?

Same for healthcare?

Same for science?

Same for education?

Same for housing?

It’s not enough to go to a march every few months. Make a commitment to pursuing these ideals with a like minded group weekly, hold each other responsible, push each other to engage.

That’s what conservative evangelicals have done. And it worked.

Another objection: but I’m not like them! I’m not part of some religious group that all believes the same thing!

I say: so what?! You think they all agree? You think the majority of them even understand the underlying justification for why they should believe what they’re told?

No. They’ve created a common identity and pursue the ideological call to action of that identity. Whether they agree on the justification for that identity or even understand it is irrelevant.

The identity, the community cohesion is what drives them and gets them results.

The habitual nature of the religious group is what reinforces the plan of action and makes it effective.

So many of you liberals that I see post day after day;

You know the way you want the world to be

But you don’t have a strategy to make it become that way.

You don’t meet week after week to create those strategies and enact them.

That is the social function of religion that you need.

And you can do it without all the garbage that comes with those old institutions

Create your own, based on your shared principles

You can’t do it alone

And if you can’t forge strong social strategies, those that can will predominate

FYI, didn’t have time for it here, but one of the biggest strength you could bring into an organized religious group would be completely rejecting all the failed leadership strategies from your ideological opponents and crafting new, evidence based strategies

Seems Believable

All people named Matt are terrorists

So we should put all people named Matt should be put in jail

This is actually a great argument, assuming one thing

That the first statement is true

If all Matts are terrorists, the we should lock them up!
Protect ourselves from the Matts!

This is the problem with so many of the celebrity bloggers, vloggers, and various influencers.

Their arguments are like that one
They seem perfectly reasonable
Perfectly logical

And they would be
IF the foundation of the argument, that first statement, were true

Now if you go out and investigate, you’ll find that there are plenty of Matts who are not terrorists. Then this argument I’ve made is false. It is directly contradicted by evidence.

Same with many claims by those celebrity influencers

If you investigate what they claim, you find many of their arguments rest on a disputable if not outright false foundation

But that takes time
Effort
Not just on their part, but on our part.
We can’t just listen to arguments, think them reasonable, and proceed assuming they are true.

Especially arguments where we already agree with the conclusion

It’s very easy to take any argument that is a confirmation of our beliefs at face value

It’s a dangerous trap we all fall into.
I know I do.
I feel that something is reasonable in my own mind
I assume that I can trust my conclusions to be true.
But it’s on me to verify those conclusions, to prove facts and see if the conclusion can be justified or if the foundations of my beliefs are faulty

One of the most important concepts here is the convergence of evidence.

Don’t trust one source for all your information

Review sources broadly
Review from multiple perspectives
Consider the depth of the knowledge

Then you should form your conclusions
Then you can trust them

Painting is “so illogical” by Shelli Finch. Buy a print here

Holocene Extinction

I didn’t understand that there is a global extinction event occurring when I was a child

Now I do

I also understand why many have stopped referring to it as the Holocene Extinction and instead use the term Anthropocene.

Because regardless of whatever other forces have contributed to this extinction event, our influence has become the driving and accelerating force.

And as I sit here today, thinking about mass extinction

I can’t help but think about the people I listened to the other day, eavesdropped

I listened to them complain about having to use paper straws

Extinction
Invasive species
Famine
Starvation
War
Disease

Paper straws

Tear it Down


Who needs education?

Popular sentiment

Higher education is too expensive
Higher education isn’t worth the careers it actually offers
Higher education degrees are pointless

In a way that’s true

We don’t need to train

Doctors
Engineers
Teachers
Architects
Nurses
Molecular Biologists
Physicists

We can just import them

Higher education is cheaper in other countries anyway

We can just let immigrants take all those jobs

They can provide our healthcare
They can design our cities
They can engineer our lights-our factories
They can contract with our government space program

Right?

I don’t have anything against immigrants

And we won’t be bringing tired, poor, huddled masses. We’ll be bringing well educated professionals to do these jobs for us.

I have no problem with that, though I think maybe others do

Bible the Talisman

Author/scholar Timothy Beal wrote that there is a growing phenomenon that if I think of as ‘Biblical Idolatry’*

That on the one hand you have those who BELIEVE the Bible, who read it, and form their religious identity around what they find written there.

And on the other hand, you have those who believe IN the Bible. They don’t try to read and understand and model their life on it. They use it like a talisman or an idol, something to form identity around by claiming allegiance to it. For these individuals the identity is created through that allegiance, rather than being forged by engaging with the text and allowing their identity to emerge from its teachings.

The POTUS and his Bible signings are the most high profile example of this phenomenon I’ve seen so far.

*he might have used that specific term? Not sure and I don’t have the book in front of me to do a direct quote. Regardless the idea is his, not mine. I’m just trying to summarize it. His book ‘The Rise and Fall of the Bible’ is great. I recommend checking it out, as well as his other titles.

Millennial

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You don’t get a choice about being a millennial or any other generation. A generation title like that is a description of a demographic based on your birth date. It doesn’t matter if you identify with the particular trends within that demographic, you’re still part of it. None of the trends are an inherently trait of being from that demographic either, they are just observations of the most common attributes of people born during that time period and shaped by the major events unique to their lives.

These are the major events I would say have shaped millennials:

Born into the end of the Cold War and raised in a world where the US is the sole superpower

The rise of the internet

9/11 and the ensuing/ongoing war on terror

The Great Recession and it’s lasting impact on our economic prospects, especially since it occurred just after or just as we entered the work force proper

1/3 of our lives so far lived in a period of economic prosperity, the other 2/3 in economic slump

These are all things that have happened to us and they form the context from which our beliefs and behaviors have evolved. Or these are the things I would point out. We don’t have a choice about the events that have shaped us this way. And just because these events have nurtured some behaviors and beliefs over others, doesn’t mean each individual embraces them specifically. But odds are, you’ve embraced at least a few from one category or another.

The One Who Showed Mercy

I would spend money on all these things instead of a physical border barrier:

Drones

Technology will be much more efficient at identifying undocumented border crossing. And the technology can be efficiently updated over time which would be mandated in all funding. I would remind us all that technology is improving at an accelerated rate

Coastal Security 

An increasing amount of illegal immigration happens at the east and west coast. Increased technology and physical personnel on the coasts is paramount 

Double or Triple the Number of Immigration Courts

More courts/judges means quicker adjudication, means less time for immigrants/asylum seekers in custody, means more efficiency

PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF FUNDING THE FUTURE OF IMMIGRATION POLICY FOR INDIVIDUALS CROSSING THE BORDER:

Humane interception 

I absolutely believe that immigrants and asylum seekers should be met with compassion and treated with the highest level of dignity. 

when he saw him, he was moved with pity

Once the technology/personnel identifies people trying to cross, they should be intercepted by personnel not just to be detained but to be assessed for medical needs. So not just enforcement agents but medics and maybe even social workers. Same at the coasts. 

He went to him and bandaged his wounds

While in custody great care should be take to ensure humane conditions (e.g. housing)

then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him

Even when individuals are not granted entrance they should be sent out of the country with an amount of material assistance.

the next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him’

I advocate for all of this not just because it is right to take care of those in need, but I also keep in mind that most who take the risk to come here illegally do so to escape violence and murder. In many cases our own policy is intertwined with those conditions 

A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead

I do form these opinions out of a religious conviction so I understand if you disagree. I don’t expect others to agree with my religious convictions. 

In fact if you don’t like them, you can probably go complain to your local church. Many if not most of them contribute funds to assist refugees and asylum seekers. Especially if that local church participates in One Great Hour of Sharing

Blame them

And me

Some religious organizations are even involved in resettlement in the US. The Devos Family is even on record for donating to those groups. So I guess you can blame them to.

But I accept my blame. And I don’t hide my belief. And to anyone who agrees with me, for religious reasons or not, I will continue to stand with you

Which of these, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10:36-37 NRSVCE

Common response: we should take care of the people in need here first 

My response: we’re perfectly capable of doing both