Reflections On Ben Stein’s View Of Religion

From August 10, 2008

 

I received this in an email today – forwarded to me.  With my new anti-email forwarding policy I am not going to send it to people.  However I felt that it was worth sharing because I have a few comments to make about it.

 

My 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 crèche, 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 like 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?’

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 OK.

Now 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 yet?

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 

 

First and foremost I am glad to hear someone standing up and bringing logic back into the discussion on religion.  I am not Jewish, or Muslim, or any other religion, but if I am to be classified anything I would have to say that it is Christian.  I pride myself on being a fairly tolerant person on matters of religion and race – however I believe that this should be a two way street.  Recently our legislature here in Manitoba refused to call the Christmas tree they put up a Christmas tree.  It was referred to as ‘the holiday tree.’  This is by far an extreme in political correctness.  If our politicians are that concerned about offending non-Christians – DON’T PUT UP A TREE!  It is a symbol of Christmas – either admit that you are celebrating Christmas or don’t.

 

Around that same time, I heard a story in the news about some company in the US not allowing it’s employees to acknowledge the holiday season at all.  As far as I can recall they were not allowed to say so much as a return ‘happy holidays.’  Exactly when did political correctness get in the way of politeness?

 

Perhaps some of this has to do with religion.  If we do not fear that we are going to be punished for our sins we are less likely to conform to certain behaviour.  Yet, that cannot be the whole answer.  More people have died in the name of religion than of anything else in the world.  I cannot understand how someone can justify the act of killing another person all for an unknown entity – regardless of how much they believe.  Yes I know that these are, at least these days, extreme examples of religious zealots.  That does not change the fact that people are still out there breaking the fifth commandment.  In current times people have killed abortionists in the name of religion; they’ve killed their own children because it was ‘a sign from God’; and so many other examples that I cannot recall right now.  Does no one – particularly a Christian – stop to question why God would have them break their own rules.

 

In essence, what I think it all boils down to is people using religion as a crutch to excuse their behaviour.  Religion, as Ben Stein points out above, has become such a taboo subject that we are not willing to call people on it.  I think we should start doing this.  While I do not practice a religion of any kind, and wonder at how others can put such blind faith into something that might not even be real, I really do not begrudge people their faith.

 

I say keep religion in school.  In fact, use school for what it is best at.  Teach religion – all religion.  Don’t just teach Catholicism or Lutheranism.  Teach Buddhism and Islam and Judaism.  Teach them all.  Knowledge is power – blind faith is stupid.  The more information that people have about religion and the various views, the more they can make the correct choices.

 

If there really is a God out there – I say he’s got a sense of humor and right now is shaking his head at all of us stupid humans.  We just don’t get it.  God, Allah, Ishvara – they’re really all the same person.  All this fighting over who is right about what religion to follow is going to turn out to be for naught in the end.  Either there is a God who has a whole universe to run in which case our petty squabbles about who has the right idea are meaningless, or there is not a God in which case we’ve wasted our entire lives trying to please or piss off an entity that was never there in the first place.

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