In the comments of an earlier post my friend and I spent some valuable server space arguing the definition of the word Faith. So, I looked it up. Merriam-Webster Online gave me these definitions:
1 a : allegiance to duty or a person : LOYALTY b (1) : fidelity to one’s promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
2 a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs
Fair enough. Please note in the second definition the idea of believing in something for which there is no proof. It is this clause which prevents me from applying this word to myself. To be even more picky, I might replace the word proof with evidence. But there’s more to it than that. I won’t use the word faith to describe myself because the Religious Right in America have co-opted the word. They have marketed it into something that creates an us-versus-them mentality, and made being a “person of faith” something the citizens of this country are expected to aspire to. They do it all the time. I must admit I’m impressed with their skill.
I first noticed this ability in the mid-’90s, when somehow the word liberal became dirty. Conservatives started affecting an odd slant whenever they used the word, and suddenly even the most die-hard liberals avoided connecting themselves with the word. They did the same thing to the word French. By the same token they managed to take the word patriot and spin it in a way that it excluded anyone who dared question the status quo. The general public reacted by avoiding anything that might label them as liberal, vilifying to a comedic degree anything considered French, and going to great lengths to display their so-called patriotism. The same thing has happened now with faith. If you are on the right side, the “good” side, if your are “with us,” you must also be a person of faith.
I think we liberals need to fire back somehow. It’s unacceptable that we should avoid identifying ourselves with terms the right has co-opted. It’s not enough that we own up to these words in an attempt to take them back. That will only get us so far. We need to find words — common words everybody identifies with — and we need to own them. The question is, what words?
I’m open to suggestions.
Yarh! I wish I could find the video on YouTube…but a year ago I saw a video about some consulting guy who got the country to start using “Climate Change” rather than “Global Warming” and “death tax” rather than “estate tax.” I’ll keep looking for it.
It’s the same lexical hit job you talk about with “Liberal” and “Patriot” and “French” (Tee hee hee…French…HA!). Why doesn’t OUR SIDE do that?
Frankly I think the Dems are in a good position to sell themselves as the party of the Common Man…the centrists compared to the Crazed Conservatives. But they won’t do that. They’ll still portray themselves as the Yin to the Republican Yang. Maybe that’s just Good Policy. I dunno.
It’s shaping up that the Republicans are kinda screwed for the next election, though. Another blood-bath, possibly…which gives me the perfect opportunity to do some Saturday night quarterbacking.
I think they’re gonna be screwed because of their unholy marriage to the Evangelicals…a classically volatile group of people whose agenda isn’t that easily co-opted by a political party, as it turns out.
I mean the Republicans pretty much went All In on counting on the Evangelical vote. Without that, they’re screwed. They put all their chips on Gay Marriage and Abortion. And now it seems that voting block is getting new leadership who are irritated that they’ve been pigeonholed into such a small scope of interest.
There are churches all over the place breaking rank, their argument being “Whoa…since when is our mission limited to squashing abortion and homosexual marriage?” These groups are now some of the biggest advocates for conservation, reduction of greenhouse gasses, and even rethinking the death penalty. Remember…these were the very same dudes who vaulted CARTER into office.
I read a neat book called “Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America: An Evangelical’s Lament” by Randall Ballmer, a professor at Cornell University. He talks a lot about this shift in thinking and this realization that they’ve been USED.
For the past 20 years the Republicans haven’t won by landslides. They won by the skin of their teeth. Not all evangelicals will defect. But enough will. And without that pillar, the Republicans will keep coming up short.
Really…the Dems haven’t had to do ANYTHING. It was like the Republicans did all the work FOR them, pissing off fiscal conservatives with their maniacle spending and impossibly high debt ceilings, pissing off hispanics (the fastest growing demographic) with their draconian immigration policies, pissing off young people by sending their friends to an oven with bombs, pissing off the morality voters with their unquenchable thirst for gay/prositute lovin’.
It’s been fun to watch.
But, I don’t think the Dems can hold it together either. They’ll cave to intractable alliances with groups who represent a tiny, but organized constituency and will look like maniacs.
I kinda want a new party. YOU! Start a new party. The Walsh party. I’ll be a Walshist.