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Posts Tagged ‘controversy’

Book Review: The Tragedy of U.S. Foreign Policy: How America’s Civil Religion Betrayed the National Interest

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 17, 2018

The Tragedy of U.S. Foreign Policy: How America's Civil Religion Betrayed the National InterestThe Tragedy of U.S. Foreign Policy: How America’s Civil Religion Betrayed the National Interest by Walter A. McDougall

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I didn’t like this book. And my criticisms are probably unfair, because the author most likely accomplished what he set out to do. I think I merely misinterpreted or misunderstand the primary thrust of where the thesis was going. I had been hoping for a general history of America’s “civil religion” over the years through the present, but especially focusing on the Reagan years through the present, and I guess I expected some analysis which would frankly be somewhat critical of the present situation.

Now before you jump on me to tell me that that is exactly what happened in this book, let me admit that I gave up and stopped reading before I got too far in. So if the author did what I expected, it’s my own fault for giving up. However, I literally have hundreds of books here waiting to be read, and I’m in the middle of reading over 100 at the present, so I really don’t have the time or patience for authors who micromanage their topics to death, particularly when a layman’s book is being somewhat treated as an academic book. Because this was detailed freaking history starting in the 1600s, going excruciatingly slow, unbelievably boring, and to be honest, while it’s fine for historical authors to be objective and not have an agenda, on the whole, the very title of this book implied a definite agenda, one with which I’d probably agree. Yet, for the life of me, I couldn’t tell what the author felt, believed, perceived, was advocating — nothing!!! — as he proceeded to regale the reader with amazingly boring trivial shit! And trust me, I don’t claim to be the smartest person around, but I’m not entirely dumb either. For instance, I’m presently reading books in fields such as public policy, nuclear engineering, religion (especially the primary theistic ones), atheism, philosophy, history, business, blockchain technology, network engineering, espionage, biographies, science, fiction, poetry, cryptography, culture, international relations, think tanks, hardware, software development, health, machine learning, AI, electronic warfare, limited nuclear warfare, radar signal processing, management consulting, quantum mechanics & quantum computing, among other topics. Trust me — I can handle details, I can handle boredom, I can handle a lot of “difficult” material. Sometimes I want to quit reading a couple of these other book — one nuclear engineering book is killing me, and one book on microwave RF design is boring — but I rarely have any questions as to the thesis of the books, the authors’ stances or where they stand on issues, what their agendas are, etc. And while I obviously know sometimes you have to work hard to reach certain points, this damn book simply seemed pointless to me. Mere American religious and political history. Ho hum. Pretty much know those fields already. By heart. I thought this would be a little more cutting edge, and again, perhaps it is, but dammit, give me a reason to reach the point in your book where you venture into uncharted territory! Otherwise, I’ve got better, more educational, more stimulating, more challenging books to read — piles of them. So for those of you who read this book in its entirety and came away impressed, please enlighten me as to why I am mistaken in my response to the book. In any event, I can’t possibly recommend this book. I’m sure there are alternatives that do a much better job. I’m extremely disappointed. Two stars.

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Clobbering “Biblical” Gay Bashing

Posted by Scott Holstad on April 9, 2012

Clobbering “Biblical” Gay Bashing –.

This is a very long blog my girlfriend pointed me to dealing with Christianity and Biblical Hatefulness. No matter where you stand on the matter of Christianity and homosexuality, it should prove to be an interesting read. I’d encourage everyone to approach it with an open mind.

For what it’s worth, I grew up in a very strict Protestant home and was taught that homosexuality was a terrible sin. Yet, I have had gay friends since age 13, virtually all of whom I’m convinced God loves as much as he loves me. I have long struggled with my own accepting views regarding homosexuality versus the intolerance ingrained within me from an early age. It’s been difficult, as I can see both sides to some degree, I think….

This blog goes a long way toward answering some of my own questions and dilemmas and it may for anyone reading this as well. For instance, gay Christians have long argued that the notion Sodom was obliterated by God due to homosexuality is a misinterpreted viewpoint. Yet, I struggled with that. God’s (few) words on the subject seemed fairly clear to me, as much as I disliked them.

I’m going to go off subject for a moment, but it will serve as a preface to my main point. My ex was Jewish. She was vehement in her derision of Christians as posers who pick and choose what to believe or discard in the Old Testament. She asserted that God said he does not change multiple times throughout the Bible, and he does. So if that’s true, why can Christians eat shrimp and Jews can’t. Aren’t the Jews following God’s law? This has always proven difficult for me, even with Christians explaining that Jesus (and Paul, sort of…) somehow did away with the old law, and brought a new one into the world. I seemed to somehow agree with her, at times, that you can’t have it both ways, that it’s one or the other — either you follow all of God’s laws, or you follow none, as there’s no point.

Now to this blog. This blog argues a number of things, but it seems to rest its primary argument in the not-too-new notion that these people writing Leviticus 3,000+ years ago knew nothing of sexual orientation, knew only of ensuring that man’s “seed” be treated properly to propagate the Jewish race in its fight for survival. More importantly, the writer strikes right at my main issue — we DO eat shrimp these days! We no longer stone disobedient children to death. We no longer have concubines, nor are we polygamous. We cut our sideburns and beards. Clearly, then, Christianity has moved beyond these stringent laws that Leviticus and the Old Testament gave us, and if we view these as laws to be thrown out because they no longer apply, so too the infrequent mention of homosexuality as a probable sin. What kind of sense does it make to judge gay people (judge not lest ye be judged) of committing grievous sins, when everything else that was a sin back then has been thrown out the window? Am I right? It seems like a very compelling argument to me.

I just gave a brief glimpse into this blog post by Mark Sandlin. Please read it for yourselves, and consider reading the hundreds of comments too. Interesting topic. Well thought out piece, with Biblical citations, and overall, well written. After reading this, I feel like the tension I’ve long felt regarding Christianity versus homosexuality, and by default, my homosexual friends, many of whom are professing Christians, to have been diminished a great deal. This was a nice eye opener for me. Feel free to leave any comments you might have on the topic. Please be polite though. I know it’s a touchy subject for many, but no need to get worked up about it here. Thanks.

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