Links and Comments: Perceiving Reality; Controlling the Narrative

Several key posts from last week, that I want to capture before I’m on the road for another couple days.

First, the viral dress thing is possibly the most widely circulated example ever of how you can’t always believe what you see. (Cf. provisional conclusion #3.) Among many other links, here’s one at Vox.

(I thought it was obviously blue and black, and have no idea what’s going on the minds of those who see white and gold.)

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Next, a couple links that seem to be about different things, but are related, in my mind.

First, an essay in The Week about how the religious right will *never* accept same-sex marriage, because … well:

The story Christians have been telling for 2,000 years goes something like this: The God who made the Universe is also, by his very nature, Love, and he made human beings with a very lofty vocation. Humans are meant to reflect His glory in the world; to be like God, that is to say, to be lovers and creators. Everything in the Universe has been put here to be used by God’s children to reflect his loving glory — and to teach them about God’s love. This is particularly true, or so the story goes, of the unique sexual complementarity between men and women. The sexual act is meant to reflect God’s love by fostering a union at once bodily and spiritual — and creates new life. The complementarity of the persons in a marriage reflects the complementarity of the Persons of the Trinity, and the bliss of marital union is an inkling of the bliss of the union of the Persons of the Trinity. The fruitfulness of the marriage act reflects that God is a creator and has charged man to be an agent of his ongoing work of creation. And, finally, if God’s love means total self-giving unto death on a Cross, then man and wife must give themselves to each other totally — no pettiness, no adultery, no polygamy, no divorce, and no nonmarital sexual acts. According to the story that Christianity has been telling for 2,000 years, Christianity’s view of sexuality isn’t some encrusted holdover from a socially conditioned patriarchal era on its way out, but is instead deeply connected to its understanding of who God is and what human beings exist for.

But the point is clear: From the start, Christians embodied a different way of life. From the start, they understood a particular sexual ethic to be a keystone of this way of life. And they understood the logic of this ethic as prohibiting (among other things) homosexual acts.

This strikes me as deeply mystical [in the sense of impugning a significant meaning onto something that is actually quite simple] and more than a little creepy.

Still, I have no problem with anyone believing anything that someone else might consider pure malarkey; my issue is why anyone, but especially, it seems Christians of this kind of mindset, are so intent on denying *other* options for living to everyone else.

Actually, I think I do understand.

Next item, an essay at Salon about The right’s fear of education.

If you want to keep people from questioning dogma, do everything possible to avoid exposing them to rival ideas. [My bold]

Before college, I voted conservative, hated gay people, loved America and served my country in the armed services.  I’ve changed because of many factors, but I know that college and graduate school made a difference. I met people unlike myself and was forced to defend sometimes ugly political positions.  The Tea Party thrives on blue-collar “common sense” that is composed of a combination of ignorance, superstition and fear. A literate and educated populace is an existential threat to the kind of thoughtless rage that has consumed the right over the past few years.

Some people on the right are very educated. Rick Santorum holds an MBA and a JD (with honors, no less), and his vehement hatred of college seems to stem from his kooky take on religion.  Modern politics is drawing bizarre new battle lines between “family values” and a halfway decent education.  American Christians may dislike “Islam,” but they share a lot of opinions with the radical Islamic group “Boko Haram,” a name that itself translates into “education is forbidden.” In our own country, we have a massive and growing group of people who would rather have illiterate children than let their kids learn anything that contradicts their most extreme religious views.

Both of these are about *controlling the narrative*. (Cf. provisional conclusion #7.) Deny education to keep people from questioning dogma. And deny legal recognition of other kinds of people, because their existence in society is another threat to the religious dogma that fundamentalists would instill upon their children. Any recognition of a reality aside from dogma is perceived as a threat to tribal mores and a way of life. The antithesis of progress, and understanding of reality.

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