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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

The Fundamentalist Psyche

Category: Society
Posted: 06/17/05 16:39

By Dave Mindeman

The Fundamentalist Christians were wrong. But it isn't going to matter, because they speak for God. The Terry Schaivo autopsy has offered proof that Ms. Schaivo's condition was irreversible. Her brain had atrophied to 1/2 the normal size and all those eye movements we kept seeing on videotape were meaningless because Terri was blind.

But it won't matter to the fundamentalist mentality that nearly brought government to a standstill over one "right to life" case. You see, they are never wrong. They can't be wrong, because they speak for God.

Since their belief system is that God is perfection, then it only follows that if you interpret the teachings of the faith as a spokesperson for God, then you have perfect insight. Even in this case where science has shown us the proof, they will never compromise or yield. They are defending God's Word and that can never be questioned -- even with the truth.

We have a growing number of issues that require "approval" from the Fundamentalist Right. You can't really call them the Christian Right anymore because most discerning Christians aren't willing to go as far as this politcally charged group has gone. These issues have become rallying points for these God Agents. The chasm between science and religion hasn't been this wide since Darwin's theories were questioned in the Scopes trial.

The new focus points are stem cell research, oral contraceptives, intelligent design, gay marriage, and right to die. They stake out a position that allows for no compromise....positions that put families in untenable positions. Positions that refuse to look at scientific evidence or even common sense.

These barricades, these walls cannot be torn down. They are fundamental to a belief system that refuses to look at facts, evidence, or science. It is pure and it is simple. To complicate it with nuance destroys their belief. It must be absolute or it is nothing.

If you ever wonder why there are so many denominations believing essentially the same thing, then look no furthur than fundamentalist belief for the cause. Any breach of the "faith", no matter how small, can create division so strong that one side or the other must leave. Baptismal differences, communion interpretation, and ordaining of women have all been reasons for an entire denominational split. They cannot compromise... God would never do that. Yet each side claims the moral equivalent of "the one true faith".

As this rigid belief system creeps into our political system, the danger signs are everywhere. It is the reason for partisan rancor. It is the reason for electoral apathy in new voters. It is the reason we can't find real solutions.

So why is fundamentalism thriving in American politics? Because they never deviate away from their chosen agenda. They stand for life, and how life is perceived. They stand for marriage and how they themselves have defined it. That holds them together with a black and white perceived "truth" that keeps them rigid and together.

It is when they have to discuss other areas that the divisions begin again. They aren't comfortable with rich and poor, black and white, healthy and infirmed. They instinctively know that as Christians they have deviated from their own teachings on this. But they push that aside to stand together for pre-life, end-life, and marriage-life issues. Issues they know they can stand together on, because there are no "absolutes" from the other side. Science deals in knowledge not abstract belief. And science cannot oppose an argument based on beliefs it cannot prove or disprove.

Fundamentalists live in the "gray zone". The area that science is uncomfortable with. Where arguments are endless and pointless. We all begin life at some point and we all die. Marriage is an agreement, a social contract with no intrinsic value. These are the only facts we have in these areas. Definitions are the gray zone that fuels the fundamentalist's reactionary life.

The Terry Schaivo case will never really end. It will become a symbol of how uncomfortable all of us are with life and death decisions. We can't possibly solve problems like this with legislation. There are certain things that should be left to family. Occasionally we will get wrapped up in individual stories. We should hear them but not interfere. We should seek greater understanding but make no judgments. There are some things we can't know -- the mirror that we see through darkly is not open to absolute definition. We will know the real truth when we are ready to hear it, not before.
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Pawlenty and LMV

Posted: 06/14/05 22:52

by Paul Bartlett

Lost in the special session and budget rancor has been Minnesota's dirtiest little tax secret: Limit Market Value (LMV). LMV is an arcane and hideous property tax law that shifts the property tax burden to the owners of new homes and low inflation neighborhoods. It is possibly the nation's worst property tax law, even more inequitable than California's Proposition 13.

LMV is scheduled to sunset at the end of 2007. That is, until Tim Pawlenty reversed his position. Pawlenty had supported the LMV phase-out, but during a May 11 MPR interview, Pawlenty flip flopped and stated that he now favors an extension of LMV. The hypocrisy of his words and actions is palpable.

Pawlenty vetoed the transportation bill because it would have increased the state gas tax, costing the typical driver $75, perhaps $100 per year. But, he supports a program that over taxes the owners of new homes by ten to twenty times that amount each and every year. That over taxation finances the LMV subsidy. The irony is that the majority of those new home owners likely voted for Pawlenty.

Pawlenty likes to parse his words, to call a tax a fee and a fee a tax. Whatever lexicon you prefer, LMV is a tax shift rip-off and our
governor supports it. If LMV is extended beyond 2007, Pawlenty cannot walk away from his culpability. I'm anxious to hear his explanation to his buddies at the Tax Evaders League.

Paul Bartlett, Eagan
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What Is Support?

Category: Society
Posted: 06/10/05 12:19

Some interesting letter to the editor banter appeared in the Pioneer Press lately. In a May 28th letter, a writer had questioned whether real support of our troops was shown by someone sporting a magnetic yellow ribbon displayed on a gas guzzling SUV. That prompted a response from Ken Eshom of Cottage Grove:

I disagree with David Maeda's May 28 letter on the "Support Our Troops" ribbons that adorn "gas-guzzling monstrosities." Regardless of the vehicle they drive, I applaud those who show their support for the men and women who are placing their lives in danger on a daily basis.

I drive a vehicle that is lacking in the fuel-economy department and have a ribbon proudly affixed to it, but I feel it doesn't lessen my support for a son who is now serving our nation in Iraq.

I concur that we should aggressively seek alternative fuel methods and lessen our "desperate devotion" on oil, as Maeda suggests. But regardless of our personal choices, one should never deride our citizens for showing their support of our brave Americans.

Cottage Grove

Which in turn led to some questions by mnpACT! member Glen Marshall who responds with:

Support Our Troops

Ken Eshom's June 10 rebuttal to David Maeda's May 28 letter makes a surprising assumption: that the application of a sticker or magnet in any way indicates a support of our troops. These appliques are racked with the "impulse buy" items at many convenience stores, and it came out quite a while ago that the proceeds often do not benefit any troop-related effort.
The application of a self-aggrandizing one-liner to one's trunk does nothing to support the troops.

Whether you're a dove or a hawk, give blood if you can. Contribute to programs like the American Legion's Legacy Scholarship Fund. Find legitimate veteran support organizations and do whatever you can to help. When you find good organizations, pass the word around about them.

Then, if you want to gain the admiration of your fellow citizens, go ahead and apply your sticker. Just don't pretend that it's accomplishing anything else.

Glenn Marshall

What do you think?

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