Tuesday, July 17, 2012

god sinks a long one

Here's your regular religious arsebasketry round-up.

Firstly another data point in support of my theory that most high-profile American sportspeople are tedious evangelical halfwits - I caught the tail-end of the final round of the John Deere Classic on Sunday night, including the two-man play-off between Troy Mattesson and Zach Johnson, which Johnson won with a sensational 200-yard shot out of a bunker to about six inches for a tap-in birdie.

That was all very exciting, and as it happens Johnson is a golfer I admire very much - very much not in the modern golfing mould of a great muscle-bound 6-foot-plus hulking brute who hits the ball 350+ yards and then dinks it onto the green with a lob wedge (of which his namesake Dustin is a good example), but someone who still manages to compete despite this (this was his second PGA tour win of 2012, a feat matched only by Hunter Mahan and Jason Dufner, and exceeded by Tiger Woods) by being very accurate off the tee, having a great short game and being one of the best putters in the world. But it does set my teeth on edge a bit when he starts the post-victory interview with David Feherty on the 18th green by thanking "my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ".

This article from just after his Masters win in 2007 (in the early days of this blog) may contain the explanation, though:
[...] when I gave an invitation toward the end of the course was when Zach asked Jesus into his heart [...] it was a slow progression for him to that point, and then once he accepted Christ he just went crazy.
Ah, OK, that would account for it. Further support of my theory can be found in the depressingly long lists of publicly Christian US golfers here and here. Two further things prompted by those links, firstly this little snippet regarding Rickie Fowler (emphasis mine):
While the American golfers kept their religion quiet when playing for the Ryder Cup at the Celtic Manor in Wales, the youngest member of the team, Rickie Fowler, only 21, engraved his balls with 4:13, quoting Phillippians, which said: "I can do every thing through Him who gives me strength."
Ouch. Also, you'll notice that the second link is titled "Golf's Tim Tebow". For those not in the know, Tebow is the engagingly meat-headed and terrifyingly devout Denver Broncos and New York Jets quarterback, responsible through his very public displays of religiosity for a mildly amusing internet meme, one which at least shows that Americans aren't so monolithically in thrall to religion that some of them can't take the piss out of it.

Secondly, I was afforded the opportunity to shout incoherently at the radio this morning when there was a brief discussion about gay marriage on the Today programme, featuring among others some bloke from the Catholic Church in Scotland who had been assigned the seemingly thankless task of spinning his superior Cardinal Keith O'Brien's words back in March into not seeming like the bile-filled tirade of bigotry that they actually were. He gave it his best shot but unsurprisingly couldn't really manage it.

I do think, as it happens, that the counter-argument trotted out here that goes along these lines - well, if you don't want to get married to a partner of the same sex, then, hey, just don't do it, and let us get on with it: haha, checkmate - is something of a rhetorical error. It sounds superficially like a good argument, but it falls foul of not taking the religionists' position seriously enough, or more accurately not taking seriously enough how firmly they believe in it. It's the same as the argument used against anti-abortion people that goes - hey, if you don't want an abortion, well then don't have one: haha, checkmate - but ignores that fact that they think abortion is murder. You wouldn't seek to justify legalising murder by just saying, well, if you still think it's wrong then just don't murder anyone, yeah? Same with the gay marriage thing: if you really believe that other people marrying each other is going to consign the whole of humanity to the eternal fires of hell for all eternity then you will feel entitled to regulate others' behaviour, even if you're not indulging yourself.

In a way I think this is a bit of moral and intellectual cowardice, in that it's avoiding really engaging with and confronting the ludicrously flimsy basis for their believing what they claim to believe, and in so doing giving religion an easy ride that wouldn't be granted to other similarly absurd belief systems. Really delving in and unpacking what basis they have for thinking what they think and for seeking to regulate the private behaviour of others would be much better, but would risk a public confronting of the truth claims at the heart of religion, something the media are a bit squeamish about. Whereas I say we need to stop perpetuating religion's privileged status and thereby enabling bigotry. And if in order to purge the bigotry the religious belief has to go, well, too bad. Or, to put it another way, so much the better.

I should add as an aside that most of the "pro-life" camp who claim to believe that abortion is murder give the lie to that claim by their actions and the political positions they take up. The chart attached to this blog post illustrates this very nicely.

Lastly, I'd just like to register my eager anticipation at the potentially hugely lulzy avalanche of schadenfreude unleashed by the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes divorce. Disappointingly it seems there will not now be an undignified public squabble over custody rights, but there will surely be an increased level of interest in all things Scientological, which can only be a good thing, especially as the church tends to respond to intrusive media attention by going completely mental. Watch this space.

No comments: