Owning Up ....

"Birds of a feather flock together"

A bit of background:

That phrase was taught to me by my parents way back when.  Often, it was when they were pointing out examples of people they thought I should probably not 'hang with' or whatever the long forgotten term for spending inordinate amounts of time in a certain social group was back then.  I have generally thought of myself as an outsider and someone who is loath to 'join' much of anything.  Sort of a both secular and sectarian "in the world but not of the world" attitude I suppose.  I prefer to be able to float into pretty much any social situation and then float back out at will.  

I like it that way.  

Call me selfish, but I don't like having to carry the load for some other jerks stupidity just because 'we're buds' or whatever.  If those I am with are getting stupid, I simply exit.  The inverse advantage of this approach is that others (hopefully) don't end up burdened by my stupidity. Of course it does not always work out that way, but the concept is nice and clean.  It is an ideal to strive for... .  

When it comes to belief systems, standing alone holds true for me.  I am a Christian.  I was raised a Christian.  We studied theology at home(my parents met in seminary).  I am fairly conversant in protestant theology, not an expert by any means, but far beyond the fundamentals that I hear most Christians talk about when they decide to sit and discus their faith.  That being said, I am far from the bible toting and quoting evangelist.  I have my beliefs, they are mine, I don't expect anyone else to agree with them.  Nor am I interested in convincing anyone else that my beliefs are 'right'.  They are good for me.  On the flip side of that, I am more than happy to sit down over a brandy and coke and delve into beliefs, whether mine or someone else's.  It is really fascinating!  It is a meta-physical exploration and as such, wide open and freeing...   

Me Owning up: 

Regardless of how independent I think I am, my belief system associates me with a particular group of people: Protestant Christians. There are all sorts of these folks.  They come in all sorts of flavors, many of which I find to be bitter.  Others are tolerable, and some are just cool.  But they all call themselves Christians, and thus don the 'feathers that make the flock'.   Buddhists, Atheists, Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslims, Mormons, Christians, etc... .  People gather together to support each other and to achieve some external source of self-affirmation. There is nothing inherently wrong with that.  It is natural and normal.  

It is also dangerous and potentially destructive....

Wars have been fought, kingdoms destroyed, rape, pillage, plunder, enslavement, torture and other nasty things have been done by and to people because of differences in belief systems:  Mine included.   I could sit back and say "well, we have come a long way since ..." and wash my hands of some of the things that have been done, and are being done, in the name of Christ.  Frankly, I think Christ (if he exists as I believe he does) is probably appalled.

But appalled or not, agree or not, I am associated with the flock of Christians for good, bad or indifferent and am thus associated with the actions and consequences of that group.  I am compelled in some ways to own up.  When Mike Huckabee or Ben Carson start using their belief system to justify their politics, I have to own up to that.  I don't think they should.  I take a very firm stance on separation of church and state.  

As an example: Mike Huckabee argues that we should support Israel in the building of homes on land given to the Jews by Abraham.  Frankly, I have not seen Abraham around recently and really don't understand why something Abraham said should be used as a platform for current foreign policy.  The old testament is not to the best of my knowledge a binding document for every country in the world, nor should it be.  There may be very good reasons to support Israel in building homes on the contested land.  What Abraham did or did not say is not one of them in my view.  I will forgo other issues (some of them simply embarrassing to me because of the 'flocks' approach to them) and simply leave the this as an example of how I think about belief systems relative to politics.....  

The point is that, whether I want to be or not, I am associated in name with Mike Huckabee.  I have to own that or I can not rightly call myself a Christian.  One does not get to just float in and out of such a broad category.  One chooses....  I chose, so I own it.  And yeah, for me that sucks!  I am sure that Huckabee is a good guy on a personal level, but his politics is just plain un-American.  It is that simple to me. 
 But I still own it..........

Picking on Muslims and Owning up:

Islam is interesting.  I have been reading the Quran (slowly) to try to educate myself a bit.  I have a long way to go, and that is fine.  I wish to be informed, not converted.  

Islam is a belief system, just like Christianity and the rest.  And those folks who identify with that system own it.  And frankly, I expect them to hold up to that ownership.  I have to live with my Huckabee, and the Muslims have to live with and own up to Jihad.  Neither is acceptable.

I am going to simply state it bluntly.  Jihad is a Muslim problem, and it should be up to Muslims to solve it.  The rest of the world should be in support of that effort.  However, we do not have to tolerate it.  Same goes with Sharia law.  If Sharia is important, that is understandable and acceptable as long as it does not infringe on others.  In the United States, there is one source of all law:  The Constitution.  So if you want Sharia, live elsewhere.  

Theocracy is fundamentally anti-American.  And Christians ought to remember that too!  If you want a Christian nation, go make one somewhere.  I prefer a nation that allows me to be Christian, but has no right to compel me to be one!  

Separation of Church and State.  There is a damn good reason for it!  It is called "free will".

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