Modernizing Mascot Names Is A Worthwhile Endeavor, So Is A Conversation About Reforming Sports



In this blog I sometimes point out instances of political correctness gone awry, but I also don’t hesitate to call for greater sensitivity and cultural diversity when it is genuinely needed. Changing sports team mascots is an example of an important change to the symbolism that defines our civil society, one which could have a significant impact on how people think. Just getting people to talk about the reasons for the name and logo changes would produce a lot of good consciousness raising.

However the situation with the Washington team bearing a name which is slightly to somewhat to moderately offensive to Native Americans raises another topic: We wouldn’t have to be having this debate if we reformed the ownership structure of sports teams. What would be the social benefits of eliminating private ownership of sports teams and replacing it with a public-private partnership or a system of non-profit organizations organized in the interest of the public welfare? More about this post-capitalist idea after giving readers a bit of background on the naming controversy…

David Plotz of Slate explains the need for the online magazine to no longer refer to Washington DC’s football team as “The Redskins”:

For decades, American Indian activists and others have been asking, urging, and haranguing the Washington Redskins to ditch their nickname, calling it a racist slur and an insult to Indians. They have collected historical and cultural examples of the use of redskin as a pejorative and twice sued to void the Redskins trademark, arguing that the name cannot be legally protected because it’s a slur. (A ruling on the second suit is expected soon; the first failed for technical reasons.) A group in the House of Representatives also recently introduced a bill to void the trademark. The team has been criticized from every different direction, by every kind of person. More than 20 years ago, Washington Post columnist Tony Kornheiser, no politically correct squish, urged the team to abandon the name. Today, the mayor of Washington, D.C.—the mayor!—goes out of his way to avoid saying the team’s name.

Why, then, has nothing changed? Because the choice of the team’s name belongs to one person, Washington owner Daniel Snyder. He has brushed off the controversy with arm waves at “tradition,” “competitiveness,” and “honor.” He recently told USA Today, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER—you can use caps.” Earlier this year, some Redskins flunky was assigned the job of locating high school teams around the country called Redskins, and found 70 of them, which proved very little except that the Redskins are capable of spreading a bad example to the young. (A Google search of “Redskins” “nickname” and “high school” turns up story after story of schools dropping the nickname.) And this May, the team pathetically trotted out a guy named Chief Dodson to explain that his people were “quite honored” by the Redskins name. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell cited Dodson’s support in a letter to the Congressional Native American Caucus, apparently not realizing that the supposedly Redskins-loving Dodson wasn’t a real chief.

And then Plotz explains that his publication doesn’t approve of the monicker (“While the name Redskins is only a bit offensive, it’s extremely tacky and dated…”) they aren’t waiting for the team’s owner. They’re just going to stop using the offensive term.

Andrew Sullivan has an extensive series of posts giving opinions about whether sports teams should modernize their dated and racially insensitive mascots. I find the topic interesting but also a diversion from a more difficult economic structural problem.

Daniel Snyder, like Donald Trump or Warren Buffett, has free reign in the U.S. economic system to run his enterprise largely as he sees fit, charging sky high prices, making fat profits, and giving the teams names as offensive as he wants. But if sports teams were quasi-socialized or mutualized, the decision-making authority would be handed over to an individual or group working in the public interest. Mutual insurance companies organize this way — their policy owners are literally owners, and profits are redistributed to them through premium refunds.

Mutualized sports teams could hoist a wide rage of benefits to the public good and social justice, lowering outrageous athlete pay sometimes in excess of $50 million for football players for instance and lowering ticket prices. How many sports fans would be interested in actually owning a piece of their favorite team, showing their loyalty and getting reduced prices on tickets as a result?

I would wager a whole lot. Sports fans would become more invested in what is happening with the team and participate in decision-making through their voting and election of officers. And the billions of dollars that taxpayers pay to fund new stadiums could actually be restructured to give taxpayers stock ownership in the teams which would use the stadiums.

From an Integral standpoint, I have to wonder if mutualization or quasi-socialization of sports teams would not raise the consciousness of many sports fans, turning Red towards Amber for instance, just as promoting an employee to a stockholder would increase their sense of participation in something wider than themselves which participates in the larger whole.

Spirituality isn’t just about connecting the little self with a God far removed from the world, but expanding the self’s sense of loyalties and concerns and caring to broader and broader communities. And in Christian terms, spirituality certainly is about more than individual salvation; it’s about our collective embodiment of the Reign of Heaven come.

How not to explain the QWERTY Effect

Cross-posted from my Facebook Page.

Andrew Sullivan today passes along a link to a study on the QWERTY Effect with a false, inane comment.

Here’s my reply to him:

These authors of the QWERTY Effect have identified a valid phenomenon, but they are utterly clueless as to the explanation (as I wrote the other day on my blog when I first read the report). Just think about it: does it make *any* sense at all that letter combinations on the right side of a keyboard are “easier to type” and therefore words that contain those letters have a more positive feeling? It’s preposterous.

It’s an utterly thoughtless hypothesis to explain something whose explanation would have been obvious if the authors had considered one shred of evidence from the study of sound symbolism or phonosemantics. (Google “sound symbolism” or Margaret Magnus, Ph.D., the MIT-educated linguist who demonstrated the essential validity of Plato’s sound symbolism hypothesis that’s 2,000 years old in her groundbreaking doctoral dissertation.)

Even if you only accept a weak version of the phonosemantic hypothesis and not a strong version (e.g., quasi-Platonic), it’s more than adequate to explain the QWERTY effect. There are more vowels on the right than the left, and vowels generally are more positive than consonants, with unrestricted airflow giving the sounds a more Divine quality according to sacred word traditions in various esoteric religious traditions.

The letters on the right hand side of the keyboard have sounds which happen to be associated with more positive affects (the soft, more precise, particular, and peculiar unvoiced labial “p,” on the right contrasted to the brutish, bawdy, and blasting sound of the voiced “b.” The words which are comprised of sounds carry an emotional or subtle resonance with the sound’s symbol — e.g., stopped consonants tending somewhat to refer more to endings and disruptions and glides tending to refer to sustained patterns.)

You don’t have to be a Kabbalist to see the ridiculousness of this paper’s explanation (although the Kabbalists know a lot more about sound than these scientists seemingly ignorant of the relevant literature).

I’m giving you, Andrew, a break because your post consisted in only one word — “Explained” — but it was a very poor choice of word.


Fisking Andrew Sullivan’s “Imagine Newt’s Finger On The Button.”

Andrew Sullivan

I have a love / hate relationship with Andrew Sullivan. I read his blog daily and enjoy almost everything he says more than any other political pundit, but sometimes his blindness is just too annoying to stay silent about.

From my perspective, he so often pays attention to all the right things, but he often draws conclusions that are frustratingly askew. For example, today on The Dish, he comments on Newt Gingrich’s foreign policy, writing:

Larison dissects Gingrich’s foreign policy:

Many Republicans flatter Gingrich by treating him as one of the party’s intellectuals, but Gingrich frequently shows that he is unable or unwilling to make crucial distinctions in his treatment of international problems. He complains on his campaign website that “we currently view Iraq, Afghanistan, and the many other danger spots of the globe as if they are isolated, independent situations,” and that America “lacks a unified grand strategy for defeating radical Islamism.” But these conflicts are largely separate from one another, and there is no such thing as a monolithic, global, radical Islamism that can be addressed by one strategy. No conflicts around the world can be properly understood except by focusing on local circumstances, but for Gingrich, the ideological emphasis on a unified global threat takes priority over proper analysis.

Which makes him the perfect antithesis of conservatism. Conservatism is concerned with reality, which it understands shifts with culture, history, region and all the immense complexities of human life. When a conservative approaches a problem like Jihadist violent Islam, he will seek first a grasp of its divisions, analyze the most effective way of defusing and disarming and fighting it, ensure that a strategy in one part of the world is not necessarily salient to another, grapple with unintended consequences, and so on. What Gingrich does is the opposite. What he always longs for is the absolute, eternal principle, the clarifying concept, the rhetorical rallying cry that speaks to the ideological gut rather than the reality-based frontal cortex. And Gingrich’s notion of foreign policy – making John Bolton his secretary of state – is essentially a policy of open hostility to the entire world, including allies who differ, and a maximalist military solution to most problems.

via The Daily Beast.

Now I am probably just as alarmed by Gingrich’s inadequate handling of foreign policy as Sullivan, but look closely and you’ll see that every one of his points is wrong. It’s not that we don’t both hope and pray that Newt never gets anywhere near the White House, it’s moreso that I have a “meta” perspective on his philosophy and he doesn’t have one on mine. He’s a reconstructed Burkean conservative who doesn’t quite grasp postmodernism. I’m a postmodern thinker who reconstructs conservatism and progressive ideologies through an evolutionary theory.

Let me fisk his post sentence by sentence so you can see what I’m talking about. Sullivan writes:

Which makes him [Newt Gingrich] the perfect antithesis of conservatism. Conservatism is concerned with reality, which it understands shifts with culture, history, region and all the immense complexities of human life.

No. Andrew is entitled to redefine “conservative” in his writings in a way that the vast majority of self-identified conservatives can’t recognize, but that’s just the sort of illegitimate, pseudo-metaphysical move with language that would send shivers up an ordinary language philosopher’s spine.

Newt Gingrich’s fixation with moral absolutes and ethnocentric triumphalism is very much in line with the mainstream traditionalist worldview as it is defined by developmental researchers looking at value systems from an evolutionary perspective.

In Spiral Dynamics terms, Gingrich is a Truth Force thinker; in Ken Wilber’s philosophy, a blue altitude thinker; in Steve McIntosh’s thought, he has a traditional consciousness. I prefer to suggest that Gingrich — like the vast majority of conservative thinkers in the mainstream — share values consistent with the Diplomat and Expert structures of ego-development identified by Susanne Cook-Greuter. (Basically, Beck, Wilber, McIntosh, Cook-Greuter, and many other developmental researchers who have looked at political worldviews are talking about the same thing.) What this perspective tells us is that conservative thinkers like Gingrich are very much concerned with reality, but they see reality through the black and white lense of their cognitive and moral developmental structures.

The point being: Gingrich is the “true” conservative because most conservatives today share his basic structure of values development. Andrew is the outlier, a thinker who emphasizes conservative values (more Agape rather than Eros, in Wilberian terms) but who is not located intellectually at anywhere near the same coordinates as the typical Red State thinker.

Also, Andrew is wildly mistaken about Gingrich not being concerned with reality. All political philosophers (even postmodern ones in an odd way) are concerned with reality, it’s just that they see reality in different ways. How Sullivan misses this is beyond me unless he is just cynically taking a stand he doesn’t quite believe in because that’s what his readers expect pundits to do.

Sullivan continues:

When a conservative approaches a problem like Jihadist violent Islam, he will seek first a grasp of its divisions, analyze the most effective way of defusing and disarming and fighting it, ensure that a strategy in one part of the world is not necessarily salient to another, grapple with unintended consequences, and so on.

No, conservatives don’t approach problems like that. The rare conservative who has attained a high enough degree of cognitive flexibility and sophistication does so, provided that she or he has not developed so high as to be more concerned with understanding politics in even more subtle ways (even articulating genuinely mystical appreciation for politics).

For example, at the higher levels of political sensibility they may see that Jihadist Islam is actually a face of human nature which is not distinct from our own face, and that our ego’s efforts to partition reality into good and evil is just another defense mechanism against our realization of unity with all beings. I am the Jihadist. You are the Jihadist. Everyone in the world is the Jihadist. Now … what sort of political action makes sense from THAT all-inclusive, world-centric perspective?

Sullivan continues:

What Gingrich does is the opposite. What he always longs for is the absolute, eternal principle, the clarifying concept, the rhetorical rallying cry that speaks to the ideological gut rather than the reality-based frontal cortex.

Not really. What Gingrich does is long for the absolute truth in an ideological prism constructed with, as I put it recently,

a worldview consonant with what Susanne Cook-Greuter terms the Diplomat stage, a station of life with a language of simple statements of fact, referring to concrete realities seen from a single aspect. It’s a world where the most important thing is having the right beliefs and sticking up for them right or wrong and being “best equipped” to enforce those beliefs with the authority of the state.

That’s not looking to an “ideological gut” (i.e., a purely emotive, non-cognitive place in contrast to Andrew’s superior powers of cognition), it’s looking to a genuinely cognitive facility with limited capacity for agility, one akin to a hierarchical stage of intellectual and/or moral development that most of us passed through in early adolescence, according to psychological researchers following in the tradition of Maslow, Piaget, and Gilligan.

Sullivan continues:

And Gingrich’s notion of foreign policy – making John Bolton his secretary of state – is essentially a policy of open hostility to the entire world, including allies who differ, and a maximalist military solution to most problems.

Hardly. Sullivan misreads Gingrich as being “openly hostile” to the world, when actually it’s better to say that Gingrich is “openly assertive” of American power and that he doesn’t really see or care much about “the world.”

His consciousness has evolved with heightened sensitivity to perceived threats to order, and his default mode is frequently responsive to those threats in ways that many of us can’t quite grasp because we are so differently constituted. In other words, Gingrich’s moral capacities are just a notch more elevated than a self-important, rebellious teenage boy. Gingrich is a good defender of his home turf, as he defines it, but that’s not so much hostility towards the world as obliviousness.


Andrew Sullivan may be one of our great political commentators writing today, one whose insights I gain value from daily, but sometimes his blindness to his own embedded position in a flatland discourse gets so annoying I just have to express my frustration. To him, everyone but him is basically wrong. He, more than most pundits today, has seen his thought evolve over time; and yet he never turns his eyes to the fact of development itself. In this sense, reading Andrew Sullivan is a bit like watching a train wreck.

To me, following Wilber, everyone has a piece of the truth as seen from their unique perspective. It seems to never occur to Sullivan that conservatism as an ideology exists at multiple structures of values development as a perfectly valid type of expression, and it is perfectly natural to expect Gingrich’s lower level of conservatism to co-exist with Sullivan’s higher level.

There are still higher levels than Sullivan’s, though the higher up on the rungs of political values development one climbs, according to the psychological research such as Robert Kegan of Harvard’s Education School and Ken Wilber’s Integral Politics, the more the distinctions between conservative and liberal become blurred, the more problems appear in need of solution that never before mattered (such as the problem of how to encourage the development of rich interiority in a mass populace and how to use public policy to bring people up the spiral of development). At more evolved stations of life, development itself is increaasingly prized and the goal if politics is redefined in terms of universal care, compassion, love, and justice.

Sullivan doesn’t get this critique not because he hasn’t heard it (I know I’m not the only developmentally informed writer on politics who has tried to bend his ear), but because … I don’t know why. I blog about how frustrated I am about Andrew Sullivan’s thought every couple of years or so and send him an E-mail about it, but he always ignores it. I’ve asked him to do an “Ask Andrew Anything” segment on his view of developmentally-informed political thought such as Ken Wilber’s, and he ignored it.

Ken Wilber once wrote that for a person to grasp that their thought and entire self is developmentally constructed is a big deal. Upon this realization, one must consequently re-examine all one’s beliefs in light of this knowledge and change more than 5% of one’s entire belief system about reality, and this is simply too much for many people to cope with. They instead go into denial. I guess maybe Andrew Sullivan is just not willing to open a can of worms that would make everything he has written to date remarkably partial and limited, or risk the embarrassment of not having a cogent response to a “fringe” view.

Either that, or I’m very wrong (from his perspective), and one of these days he’s going to explain why … and I’ll be so bowled over I’ll just have to change my mind.

“Unitas Multiplex,” A Proposed Motto for World Spirituality

E Pluribus Unum

The motto “In God We Trust” is familiar to many Americans as the country’s official slogan, but its origin is not correctly attributed to the founders of the nation. Instead, the motto reflects traditional consciousness as it has periodically gained strength in the Civil War and Cold War.

In Dissent Magazine, Thomas A. Foster writes:

Only the motto “E Pluribus Unum” (“from many, one”) survived the committee in which Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin had served. All had agreed on that motto from the beginning.

The current motto, “In God We Trust,” was developed by a later generation. It was used on some coinage at the height of religious fervor during the upheaval of the Civil War. It was made the official national motto in 1956, at the height of the Cold War, to signal opposition to the feared secularizing ideology of communism.

In other words, “In God We Trust” is a legacy of founders, but not the founders of the nation. As the official national motto, it is a legacy of the founders of modern American conservatism—a legacy reaffirmed by the current Congress.

Conservative Andrew Sullivan cites the historical record as evidence of a repeated resurgence of Christianism. It certainly does speak to a periodic renewal of traditional religious values significant enough to change public policy.

A Motto for World Spirituality

Nations rely on mottos, but so too do movements and sometimes organizations. A motto can provide inspiration to participants and succinctly communicate a movement’s essence to outsiders.

The history of the rise of a truly global spirituality has yet to be written, the movement still being in the midst of birth. But is it too early to speculate as to what a suitable global motto might be?

E Pluribus Unum is a compelling contender, I think, in Latin or its English equivalent, “Out of many, one.” The motto is close in spirit to Ken Wilber’s motto for the Integral consciousness: “Unitas multiplex.”

In One Taste, Wilber quotes Jerome Bruner as saying that human existence has many local or surface features but also underlying universal structures:

Languages differ, but there are linguistic universals that make access into any language easy for any child. Cultures differ, but they too have universals that speak to the generality of mind and probably to some general features of its development. Unitas multiplex may still be the best motto.

Allow me to cast a vote for Unitas Multiplex as a proposed motto for worldcentric spirituality. I’m not a Latin scholar, but the translation to English that works best to my ears is Unity Within Diversity.

Unity Within Diversity speaks to the World Spirituality practitioner on multiple levels. As a political statement, it describes an orientation that incorporates both conservative (“unity”) and liberal (“diversity”) polarities.

And as a theological statement, it describes a unity between a radical diversity of manifestations of the divine (6,840,507,000 persons who are Unique Selves, completely irreplaceable and infinitely valuable individuals) as well as a radical unity of all beings (the True Self, of which there is only one.)

Unitas Multiplex, a motto of a global spirituality inspired by the philosophy of Ken Wilber and other integral thinkers? Perhaps. Now if only there were a global language in which to speak such a motto instead of Latin, one that is inspired by many languages not merely one with Western lineage!

Just as the U.S. history teaches, mottos come and go. One can even go so far as to imagine a future world in which Unitas Multiplex was not only the motto of a spiritual movement, but also the official national motto of countries throughout the globe.

Three blogs

I get mail asking why I so frequently comment on Andrew Sullivan’s blogs and articles. (I also occasionally get mail telling me I shouldn’t care what he thinks. Sullivan has earned his share of enemies in the gay community.) No mystery, basically he’s my favorite mainstream blogger and I think his writing is a great touchstone. He’s certainly one of the few mainstream bloggers taking an approach that is arguably integral (though still miles away from AQAL or STEAM-based). I am frequently disappointed by some of his flatland politics, but I learn a helluva lot even when I disagree. What more could anyone want of any writer?

Tonight, Sullivan linked to another site called Independent Gay Forum, and praised it. So have I (see “Why I Read Independent Gay Forum,”) and I also praise this site and recommend its articles. The site’s writers have earned Sullivan’s praise (Dale Carpenter’s columns are usually the most thought provocative, in my opinion), but I simply cannot let Sullivan’s characterization of the site as “non-left” go unchallenged. Of course, Sullivan is merely repeating the Indegayforum party line, that theirs is the “alternative” to the gay left. What’s truly accurate is that theirs is a genuine alternative to the left by presenting conservative, libertarian, and classical liberal opinions only. And that’s all they offer. Of course, to their readers like Sullivan, that’s all there is that’s worth mentioning on the “non-left.” Puke.

From the standpoint of an integral philosophy, Independent Gay Forum is primarily a sounding board for mostly rationalist-level writing by some of the gay community’s best writers. There is occasionally an integral bent to a piece, and when I find it, it always makes me happy to see. And their opponents on the mainstream left are mostly rationalists. And with their opponents on the far left in gay academia, you have a heavy pluralist streak. Not exactly a huge difference between the left and the so-called “non-left,” from where I’m standing.

P.S.: In the spirit of full disclosure, I should mention that I have in the past (it’s been a few years) submitted a few of my previously published columns to Independent Gay Forum for publication, and they were all rejected without explanation. For example, I submitted one of my best columns, a piece about gay and straight men healing from sexual abuse, and I drew the connections to healing homophobia on the terrain of individual consciousness. Rejected. Too spiritual, I guess. (They include stories by religionists, but only the rationalist-level stuff like explanations for why Roman Catholic natural law philosophy isn’t rational enough.) The story I make up is that their editors have no use for spirituality and are utterly clueless about the connections between inner growth, consciousness, and cultural/political change.

Subsequently, I founded Gay Spirituality & Culture where writers and readers less clueless about spirituality can congregate and see what magic might develop… It’s a group blog that allows for voices and perspectives excluded by the rationalist-level blogs like The Daily Dish and Indegayforum. The motto begins with this phrase: “We are a group of independent writers with interests in inner transformation, personal growth, spirituality, religion, and culture …” It’s still a baby, and I make no claims that it’s all that, but feel free to check it out. The GS&C blog will turn two years old in just over a week. Ghandi once said that you have to “be the change” you want to see in the world. Not everybody gets that, but some blogs are drawing the connections.

But are they in on the joke?

Andrew Sullivan wisely takes a step back on his praise for so-called “post-PC humor” after a reader reminds him that not everyone is “in on the joke.”

It’s difficult to quantify, but the best example I can give is when I watched some Chappelle skits with some southern relatives of mine who would be charitably described as racist. I couldn’t figure out why they were laughing at what was clearly a sketch written to make fun of people with attitudes and beliefs exactly like theirs (The blind, black KKK sketch). I noticed they were laughing not only at the wrong time, but for what appeared to be for the wrong reasons. Later, when they were quoting what they considered the “funny” parts of the skit, it wasn’t what everyone “in on the joke” was quoting.

The e-mail author’s relatives: pre-PC. The e-mail author, who is “in on the joke”: post-PC. The problem with so-called post-PC humor is that it really only works if your audience is exclusively or almost exclusively post-PC, too. A joke among a few friends, for example. But bring it to a mass audience and you’ll hear lots of laughter, but it’s the racists, sexists, and homophobes laughing the loudest… and for reasons that are likely to appall. They’re reinforced in their prejudices while you get your lollies and ignorantly congratulate yourself on your sophisticated, post-ironic sense of humor. Not funny.

On the mounting threat to liberty

Al Gore recently gave an important speech on the wiretapping scandal. The GOP spin/misrepresentations of the speech, called “The Limits of Executive Power,” should not be believed. The entire speech is worth reading. Here’s a short clip:

Moreover, if the pattern of practice begun by this Administration is not challenged, it may well become a permanent part of the American system. Many conservatives have pointed out that granting unchecked power to this President means that the next President will have unchecked power as well. And the next President may be someone whose values and belief you do not trust. And this is why Republicans as well as Democrats should be concerned with what this President has done. If this President’s attempt to dramatically expand executive power goes unquestioned, our constitutional design of checks and balances will be lost. And the next President or some future President will be able, in the name of national security, to restrict our liberties in a way the framers never would have thought possible.

Meanwhile, in Time, Andrew Sullivan explains that we’re in danger of being the subjects of King George. And in the “nobody asked, but I’m telling you anyways” department… I’m leaning against the confirmation of Samuel Alito. All other issues aside, Alito’s strong support for expanding executive powers strikes me as an unacceptably dangerous threat to the separation of powers that are so important in protecting us all.

Why not join the Episcopal Church?

Not that you (or anyone) asked. But the question arose after an exchange with Terry Mattingly on GetReligion. Mattingly said he has asked Andrew Sullivan why he remains Catholic instead of joining the Episcopal Church. And he said he would ask Anne Rice why she converted to Roman Catholicism instead of the Episcopalian denomination. (Both have stated positions on issues such as women’s ordination and gay rights that are opposed to the magisterium.)

As I’ve stated previously, I’m an ex-Catholic and current nondenominational Christian who describes my spirituality as “catholic in the truest sense of the word: universally open to truth wherever it is found.” So it’s quite natural that I feel drawn to the Episcopal Church. I’ve said so before, and have begun explorations into possibly joining the Anglican communion.

But here are a few reservations, off the top of my head, and in no particular order:

  • Will I have a felt sense of not being “at home” there? Is it too conservative? Is it too rigid, cold, stuffy, and upper class? Is it the right focus for me, right now? My main impulse now is towards integration and spiritual practice, not listening to sermons designed to help Volvo-driving heterosexuals feel more well adjusted in their upper middle class American lifestyles. That’s what I’m afraid I’ll find as I explore the Episcopal Church… and if I do, I’m walking. It’s definitely not for me. On Sunday mornings there are also dharma meditation groups that I can join, and I’d be much better off with the Buddhists.
  • Is it simply too Christian for my tastes? I’m not even certain that I want to call myself Christian anymore, but that’s a long story. I’m beginning to think the only people who really deserve to be called Christian are those who are selflessly following Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount and other hard teachings. You know, his hard teachings like sell all you have, give it to the poor, that sort of thing. Everyone else, I almost want to use “so-called,” “self-described,” or sneer marks when describing their religion. As in… Of course, Pat Robertson is a “Christian.” or… Pope Benedict, self-described Christian, says something evil again today. My religious ethos is still definitely inspired by Christ and the whole of Christian tradition, but it’s also influenced by other and conflicting impulses… various sorts of paganism, Native American religion, Buddhism, Taoism, astrology, Hindu philosophers… Do I want to join a church where I feel as if I have to hide the full diversity of my beliefs or be judged a freak or heretic?
  • Should I be directing my energy instead to creating a spiritual community that I can embrace more whole heartedly? In many ways, I’ve moved on from the institutional Christian Church, even as my yearning for a more structured, organized, and institutional religious framework remains. There are some rumblings in the integral movement that are suggestive of a new religious experience. Is there the beginnings here of a new communion of seekers who have found a common approach to Truth, Goodness, and Beauty that allows them to bring all that they are into community in ways both traditional and new? In my opinion, it’s too early to say. My best guess is that integral thinking’s greatest impact will be on interreligious dialogue, and reforming existing world traditions–the “great conveyor belts” of consciousness, as Ken Wilber has described them. But there may also be something more unexpected: not only a new religious sensibility, but a new religion. Just a thought.

Me too

I can’t remember ever blogging just to say, “yeah, me too,” but I’ll make an exception for Andrew Sullivan’s post on Pat Robertson. He writes:

It’s also absurd to describe Robertson’s views as somehow out of the mainstream of contemporary Christian fundamentalism, or Republicanism. His 700 Club reaches more people than most CNN shows and has more viewers, as Laurie Goodstein points out, than CNBC or MSNBC. That’s why establishment conservative Fred Barnes was on the show last week; and why Karl Rove checks in with Robertson over judicial nominees. Moreover, the only reason anyone got mad at his statement about Sharon is because somone at PFAW is paid to listen. Do you think any of his 800,000 “Christian” viewers would be in any way discombobulated? This is their faith…

For a dissenting opinion, see any of Terry Mattingly’s posts on GetReligion criticizing the biased liberal media for portraying Robertson as representative of conservative Christians. I’ve asked Terry to provide evidence of his assertion that Robertson is outside the conservative evangelical mainstream, but he remains silent.