Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Words of Wisdom

My parents sent me this in an email this past weekend.

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on a CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

Herewith 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 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?

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

5 fellow footsteps:

Skittles said...

Ben Stein is one smart guy!

SQT said...

That is so insightful and intelligent. Thank you for sharing it.

Webmiztris said...

I would give my left tit to not know who Nick and Jessica were...lol or any of the other Hollywood twits for that matter.

Heather in Beautiful British Columbia said...

I'm quite happy to say I don't know who Nick and Jessica are!

Good for Ben Stein to tell it like it is - more of us need to step up to the plate and say what we feel :)

Dee said...

I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country.

Well... it's not, but it's certainly wasn't supposed to be an explicitly religious country either. Actually, it was originally founded to be explicitly non-religious, hence the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There's evidence that the 'founding fathers' were deists/atheists/pantheists, who were deliberately attempting to set up a different system than England, where the monarch is also head of the Church.

This is the crux of the argument against things like prayer in schools, and where the religious lobbyists are extremely disingenuous. Government run schools should not promote a religious belief because it violates the first amendment (private schools, knock yourself out). Prayer, the teaching of creationism/ID, sticking up statues of the 10 Commandments; all these things are essentially the government supporting one religious belief, Christianity, where its own constitution says it shouldn't be.

The thing is, no-one knows any of this stuff, because the history of secular democracy (which comes exclusively from Europe; from the Ancient Greeks via English constitutional monarchy and the French revolution) just isn't taught in the US. On a recent tour of the US, a relative of mine was in stitches when the tour guide tried to tell her that some statue in Washington was an "internationally respected sign of democracy". My relative had never even heard of this statue before, and neither had any of the other foreign tourists.

The other thing is, coming from outside the US, it's easy to see how tremendously religious the country is. No other Western nation has the level of fundamentalist fervour that the US does; and remember this list includes Italy (the home of Catholicism) and England (ditto for the Church of England). It's baffling to outside observers how people in the US can honestly believe that all the nation's ills are caused by the lack of religion, when highly secular nations -- such as pretty much everywhere in Northern Europe -- score phenomenally better on every social indicator (lower crime, higher education, higher living standards, whatever).