Thursday, 15 November 2012

Re Christian Values

As we are getting to that time of the year when all good Australians get Christian values shoved up our exhaust pipes, whether we like it or not, I thought I’d dedicate a post to the concept (Christian values, not exhaust pipes). A work event added further motivation for me to raise the matter.
We were recently given a presentation by pop psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg. The doctor, who also appears on commercial TV, presented on the matter of parenthood and in particular the parenthood of teenagers. It wasn’t the deepest presentation ever but it was well delivered and very entertaining, thus quite effective. In other words, it fit the occasion and the crowd very well. I took some points to ponder about with me and I quite enjoyed the show. That is, until the matter of Christian values was raised.
It started with the psychologist claiming research proved children fare better when they have some sort of a framework and they feel a part of it. He continued to say that he does not want to get into the sticky subject of religion… and then he did. He said his wife is a Catholic, he was raised an Anglican, and because he like Christian values he frames his children’s lives around them*.
That got me annoyed. As in, which good Christian values is he referring to? Is he talking about:
  1. Slavery, a concept firmly endorsed in the Bible?
  2. Racism, of the type that got the Crusaders to love their Muslim neighbors or endorsed the exploitation of blacks throughout the planet?
  3. Misogyny, as in the way women are treated as chattel?
  4. The rendering of anything sexual as sinful? Should we kill the whole of humanity, or at least the 95% that obvious masturbates?
  5. The ongoing suppression of everything gay?
  6. Do all Christians give the whole of their money to the poor because they know it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to go to heaven?
  7. What would be of our justice system if we truly followed the “he who is without sin cast the first stone” instruction?
  8. With regards to Christian holidays, which the psychologist specifically mentioned: are we really meant to celebrate the value of sacrificing flesh in order to appease a blood lusty God, a concept around which the entire premises of the Christian Easter holiday revolves?
  9. Perhaps we are talking about the ongoing systematic sexual abuse of young children (as reported here to a gruesome level of detail)?
  10. Or are we referring to the sanctity of the about to be stillborn, which suppresses the sanctity of the mother's life to the point of letting the mother die (see here)?
I can go on much longer, but the point is simple. There are very good values in this world, but these are universal values that do not apply to Christianity alone. There is compassion and generosity in this world even outside of the Christian domain (surprise!).
Yes, there is not much out there that is good and is exclusively Christian. In contrast, there is plenty that is bad about Christian values, and it is still bad even if nowadays most Christians prefer to be selective and ignore the worst of those. The advances too many of us now take for granted, like women’s rights and the abolition of slavery are the direct result of the Enlightenment, a secular movement at its core. Christianity? It only forgave Galileo recently (1992, to be precise), so don't expect much progressiveness there.
That the psychologist could get away with the recommendation he was making when presenting before a mainstream crowd who has been mostly raised to avoid questioning religion is no surprise. He cannot, however, achieve the same with me: I agree that a child needs some sort of a framework, but I much prefer the eyes wide open approach of humanism. I prefer my child to be able to grow up in a framework that has him thinking for himself rather than feeding him with crap because it appears to be comforting.
We may not celebrate the Christian Christmas, but I think we’re doing well in the fun department every 25 December.


*Do note the doctor almost certainly did not use the same words I am using here to describe his statements through my feeble memory. Please do not consider the above to be an exact quotation of his words.

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