Sadism, a Christian Trait

During a road trip some time ago with a distant and excessively conservative relative the discussion turned to his belief that ‘grace and justice’ are supreme concerns in his life. I commented that I, a humanist, had no real understanding of the concept of grace, and that justice was subjective and difficult to define. This eventually led to an uncomfortable jest on his part suggesting that since his profession gave him access to my personal search history that he could use private information against me on a whim. We laughed it off at the time but, what stands out to this day is my observation of his joy at making that threat, there was a fearsome sparkle in his wry eye. Ours is not a close relationship so the joke was way out of bounds. 

I was reminded of this conversation when I came across an article from Editorial Board by John Stoehr with the title For White Evangelicals, It’s Not About Fear which discusses the history of permissible public sadism in Christianity, using Richard Rorty and Adam Serwer as sources. Apartheid, misogyny, slavery, and other ancient hatreds justified by christian teachings are usually couched in language that hides the sadistic joys of the oppressors. This is not a sexual pleasure, as commonly misunderstood, it is pleasure derived from witnessing or causing the suffering of others. They find pleasure in punishment for divine justice; gays deserve punishment because they are gay, no additional reasoning is required. Judgment and punishment evoke pleasure on the part of religious busy-bodies. 

No one should be surprised at the revelation of a ‘sadistic pleasure’ by the religiously inclined, we are conditioned to accept it through tradition and the fading status of holy vs. secular in popular culture. And yet, every aspect of christianity beginning with the foundational use of an iron age torture device, involves the joy of Jesus who died: pleasure from another’s pain. His crimes are seldom discussed for being several and irrelevant when balanced with the not-staying-dead part.

Today, most of the traditional joy-from-suffering events are no longer acceptable in our culture. Sacrificial slaughter, slavery, poverty, and other previously enjoyed godly humiliations, cheats, rapes and deaths have gone by the wayside. The remaining sadistic joy is sexuality; they are fighting hard to keep this last pleasing joy of condemnation. It has become the primary mission of the church to retain their anti-gay sadistic traditions. The article recommends abandoning the imprecise word ‘homophobia’ and calling sadism what it is. As long as they continue to call us abominations it is the least we can do, but, it gives me no joy to do so.

All Shook Up

If “Santa” keeps bringing you presents, would you vote to remove him from office?

Even if he bribed other nations,

or abandon them on the battlefield,

even if he lied all the time,

even if he bullied women, minorities, whole religions and the poor?

Some, the one percent and older white evangelicals, will most-likely support him

as long as he gives them tax breaks, 

as long as he encourages religious, racial, and social bigotry, 

as long as he gives them permission to pollute,

as long as he removes health and safety regulations

as long as he plays to the most base of capitalist instincts,

he will have his followers support. 

He has been impeached by the House, but don’t expect the Senate to punish their Santa Claus.

They have concerns that supersede morality.

Senators like capitalist toys, and they’ve not been particularly good girls and boys.

Freedom to be ignorant and foolhardy deletes moral compunctions.

The boss does it, so I can do it too. 

Our government is being destroyed.

We have no solution to that problem anymore than we do global climate change.

From my perspective, everything is Higaldly-Pigaldy.


Love & Grace

Response to Peter Wehner’s New York Times article, Christian Doomsayers Have Lost It

This is a refreshing bit of common sense from a leader on the right. He too is bewildered by the passions guiding the Christian Right’s allegiance to the current president. He collates our times with rhetoric from the extreme right touching on key moments of moral conflict: Hillary = Hitler, the Civil War, the Revolution, abortion, un-wed mothers, drag queens and the like. Yet his comments on the decline in abortion rates, teen sex, teen birth rates, drug use, and so on had me cheering: good for us! He sees the heightened emotions on the right, despite this good news, as “how moral concern has given way to moral panic.”

Mr. Wehner points out that the remaining issues are real, but hardly existential concerns. “We are not living in Nero’s Rome,” is how he succinctly put it.  Christians seem to have a “psychological craving for apocalyptic fear.” Every minor concern is taken out of context and magnified by the hair-on-fire fanaticism of Evangelicals.

“This apocalyptic moral mind-set has led to an alliance with a shockingly unethical figure, who embodies a mobster’s mentality and an anti-Christian ethic,” is the way he begins his accurate conclusion. Here is Mr Wehner’s point: love and grace should permeate our approach to conflict resolution, not fear, anxiety and anger.