Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Embracing Doubt

I just happened to catch Laura Ingraham on the radio a few days ago as she was ridiculing President Obama for speaking about his faith in starkly religious terms at an Easter observance. He was never so forthcoming, she said, using the name of Christ and being very specific about the overtly Christian aspects of his faith. Ingraham suggested that it must be a ploy, a play to manipulate the faithful, and her proof? Well, didn't he talk about doubt once, when speaking on matters of faith? Didn't he mention that America included "non-believers" along with Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc. in his inauguration speech?

Apparently, her implication is that non-believers are not real Americans, that we don't mention those people. Apparently, talking about grappling with doubt in one's spiritual life is a sure sign of cynicism and dishonesty. Apparently, believers must be completely certain, with no reservations, no room for hesitancy. But what would Ms. Ingraham say to Mother Teresa, whose journal writings illuminated a life filled with profound doubts about the existence and nature of God? Would she cast Teresa to the inquisitor's rack along with the President? Of course, that is the logical extension of Ingraham's take on faith - inhuman adherence to an austere standard with no tolerance for dissent or disagreement. In short, the Inquisition. But, then, anyone who listens to Ms. Ingraham will recognize that game already.


Vincent said...

I can't grasp from your post just why you have chosen this lady's opinions as a worthy subject to write about. Is she a famous and respected commentator?

PatricktheRogue said...

She is sort of a female Rush Limbaugh here in the U.S. I rarely (basically never) tune in to her show, but I happened to be on a long drive and no other stations came in clearly. She is typically in the top 5 rated national radio shows in the U.S. with about 6 milion listeners a week, according to Arbitron.
But I find this prolonged, right-wing invective very tiresome to listen to. I do try to listen to different opinions on a range of subjects, but this conservative talk show stuff usually devolves into a long, snearing tirade. Time for satellite radio I think.

PatricktheRogue said...

It occurred to me a little later that the reason I felt compelled to comment is that Ms. Ingraham's attitude toward faith is quite prevalent in the U.S., unlike in the UK. The Evangelical movement is dominating the discussions of religious faith in America, and this is exemplified by Ms. Ingraham literal, fundamentalist view of religious matters. All is black and white in their view. Man is thus, God is thus, nothing to question or doubt. Those who don't conform are condemned or cast aside.

Vincent said...

Thanks for your clarifications, Patrick, particularly the latter one in which you speak of the prevalence of her attitude, unlike that prevailing in the UK.

Indeed, here we have something strikingly opposite. Militant atheists are on the rampage, seeking to defend and extend their "territory". For example many councils within local government start their sessions with prayers. The "atheists" declare themselves affronted and want the prayers banned.

On your side of the Atlantic it seems that Christian fundamentalism is militant against the decline of religion generally. It's as if the stern virtues of the Founding Fathers must not be diluted, for "look how far they have taken us. Let us not therefore abandon the old ways and values. The war of must be fought within our own boundaries, as on the wider world's stage. Good cowboys against bad injuns." I paraphrase their thoughts, as I imagine them.

Whereas here in England, and perhaps much of Europe, the radicals have the scent of blood in their nostrils as they marshal their forces of reason, science, sexual freedom, equal rights, social provision. They hunger for the spoils of further victories to come.