Demokery in America
Along with many other Americans, Harry Cook (guest opinion, Feb. 24) is rightly concerned abut our American democracy. Such concern is magnified by the recent Supreme Court decision affording free speech rights ("money is free speech") to those soul-less constructs called corporations, entities that do not and cannot fit into democratic vision and politics.
But we must remember that our founding fathers were not "democratic" in any modern political sense of the term and that therefore our constitution was and remains designedly anti-democratic. This was understandable: In 1783 there was no "democratic" nation in the world. (Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America" [1835-1840] was about civil equality, not about democratic governance.)
We today have less excuse for retaining those anti-democratic features. They consist of: the electoral college (in which losers win); federalism (in which at both state and federal levels minorities rule or can at least block popular initiatives); strong bicameralism (in which the unrepresentative upper House holds a veto); strong judicial review (in which a Supreme Court majority, craftily and duplicately appointed, forgets about "promoting the general welfare" and instead serves as the toy poodle of the ruling class); our two-party, "lesser evil" system (which effectively precludes third and fourth parties and blocks such truly democratic voting rights as proportional representation); our presidential system (in which, once elected, the holder of the office floats free of all effective democratic controls, particularly since we became an imperial power drunk on militarism and manufactured fear of ... whatever invented enemy serves the purpose.)
Add to this the corporate control of the mass media, whose main purpose is to mystify and dumb down the people, especially by television, "that perfect instrument of autocracy"; the radical and vicious inequalities of wealth and opportunity; the enormous amount of poverty, exclusion and discrimination in the country and the deliberate underfunding of public education; the destruction of labor unions and their broadly representative voices.
Instead of being involved in political affairs, Americans are told to go shopping — as after 9/11— and induced to ignore those rulers behind the curtain who are manipulating the images on the screen.
One wise person has asked: "Is democratic governance doomed to be but a 200-year parenthesis in humanity's thousands of years of authoritarian governance?" Good question. We Americans still retain many of our freedoms but the problem of democratic freedom is that it demands a demystified consciousness, patience, applied intelligence, active involvement and the strength and courage to continue the fight when all seems lost. It is worth it, but we are running out of time.
Putting church abuse into perspective
The Monday, March 1 Oregonian article via the Ashland Daily Tidings for same date ("Deceased priest who abused boys casts a shadow on the Northwest") was very disturbing indeed! As a Christian, I must be direct, forward and morally/intellectually honest: Our churches have both the best and worst of people. Of course too does other segments of society as well. But let's talk about churches and organized religion.
Though I myself was never sexually abused as these boys described in article, I'm certainly aware such does indeed happen in our churches. And I'm also certain some churches are worse than others.
Example: Prior to relocating to Ashland from Klamath Falls in 1986, I spent one year in a Church of Christ (non-instrumental) in Klamath Falls from 1982-83. Though there were some things I agreed with, there were other teachings I sharply disagreed and dissented with, including their sectarian/legalistic, dogmatic attitude of, "We are the only church and everyone else but us in wrong!"
After leaving that congregation I was the target of judgmental gossip and slander! And get this: This judgmental jerk within the congregation told me it "would be damnable if I left the church," which I eventually did anyway.
Later, this same jerk was arrested for sexual abuse of a girl under 12 years of age! Yes, he was a predatory pedophile, a real creep! This is just one example of sexual abuse in our churches that, more often that not, remains covered up, hidden and suppressed. And that is downright criminal!
Another thing I find disturbing is the trend in our churches today of taking 1 Corinthians Chapter 7 out of context and using it against Christian singles. The dogmatic parroted, "It's better to remain single than marry," as preferred by the Apostle Paul, is an oppressive doctrine indeed! Most people who parrot this are religious elitists who are married anyway and have a significant other in their lives.
Though I have never read the book "Churches That Abuse," by Ronald Enroth in 1992, it remains posted online via Google for reading. Yes, I have expressed my sentiments here. And furthermore I rightly feel that moral and intellectual honesty sees farther than does political and religious correctness.
So what is the answer to this? I feel a place to start is with this Bible passage from 1 Peter 4:17: "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God."
James A. Farmer
Letters At Length
Demokery in America