Grateful and Orthodoxy . . . a Charles Shaughnessy blog

Grateful . . . . and 

I do not have a photo this time because the object of my gratitude is too modest and camera shy and she would kill me if I were to put one up. The gratitude is, however, in no way mitigated by this lack of pictoral representation! Janelle not only instigated this amazing contest, she has tirelessly and expertly steered it forward until it has taken on a scale and relevance that none of us predicted. I am so grateful for her support and work in all things “ Charlie”, but this one takes the cake!! Thanks, Janelle, I am so grateful.…and now on to something you know is also dear to me heart….

. . . . Orthodoxy

Hi y’all! Sorry it has been a while . . .

The trouble with an orthodoxy is that you can’t argue with it. Orthodoxy is about “facts” that are unshakeable, unquestionable and absolutely and fundamentally true. The trouble with the truth is that it can change. The world was once flat. That was the accepted truth. Anyone who disputed it was either crazy, ignorant or ungodly. Then science discovered that it was not flat but round, and the “truth” changed. The new truth was universally demonstrable as soon as a human sailed off to the east and came back from the west. When another “truth”, that the sun moved around the earth, was challenged by scientists, it was not so easily demonstrated for all to see. The Church found this new notion blasphemous and clung to its old “truth,” persecuting any who dared disagree. Even though we now know that the church’s stance was erroneous, at the time it was an unassailable orthodoxy. Science and human knowledge have always been the enemies of orthodoxy, because science is the means by which the curious human discovers new facts about his world, perpetually overturning the previous paradigm. This fits perfectly into the church’s story of Adam and Eve. Betrayed by their curiosity (and a snake,) they ate from the tree of knowledge and learnt stuff. Science was born in direct conflict with God’s word. Any fundamentalism is built on orthodoxy. By its very nature it must deny science and knowledge and instead cling to the old established truths that sprung originally from the mind, tongue or brain of some revered being, real or imagined. Thus the fundamental orthodoxies of the Christian Right, the Catholic Church, the Taliban or Al Quaeda are more or less the same. They are inspired by the teachings of a prophet or god and brook no argument, question or deviation. The orthodoxy is paramount and any intrusive “facts” that offer any counterpoint whatsoever must be denied, ignored or twisted to suit the original truth. To the fundamentalist, the 14th. century navigator must have gotten lost, lied or was borne along on the breath of the Devil. The fact that the earth was flat was indisputable.

We have the same kind of blind orthodoxies in our culture today. We hear orthodoxies that our President was not born on American soil, despite written, signed proof that he was. We hear that women’s bodies naturally reject the sperm of a rapist and that this country was founded as a Christian nation. Despite the evidence in front of their eyes and microscopes, the fundamentalists will not swerve from their beliefs. When a group of fundamentalists flew a plane into the twin towers on 9/ 11 they did so, convinced in their orthodoxy, that they were doing God’s work by destroying the unbeliever. When another group of fundamentalists blow up a women’s clinic they believe the same. In fact they both shout “God is great!” as they commit their ungodly acts of violence with the same clear-eyed, ecstasy of the fundamentalist martyr. What makes me very nervous at this point in our history is that a growing number of Americans, dulled by an inane addiction to mindless entertainment like Reality TV, too lazy to employ any critical thinking about anything and willing to let others do all their thinking and deciding for them, are happy to exchange scientifically supportable facts to be replaced by dogma, propaganda and rumor. We have stepped on the brakes of progress and seem determined to run the clock of our civilization back a few hundred years in terms of social justice, women’s and minority rights, religion and debate. The Tea Party, whose manifesto reads almost word for word like that of the Taliban in terms of a zealous adherence to an unshakeable orthodoxy have already dragged many reasonable Republicans into their madness and are intent on doing the same for the country. With an imagined history of America and perverted interpretation of the Constitution, these fundamentalists are taking advantage of the destabilizing forces at work in our economy and society to bring about an America as foreign and corrupted as the Taliban hope to do in Afghanistan. America has always been proud of its scientific, secular outlook. It was born out of the age of reason, not the Middle Ages. 

In conclusion let me remind you all of what John Adams signed his name to in the preamble to the Treaty of Tripoli in 1797:

“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion. . . .”

additional comments made by Charles Shaughnessy on 


57 thoughts on “Grateful and Orthodoxy . . . a Charles Shaughnessy blog

  1. Well said Karen! It is so hard to know what to do. We do feel powerless sometimes but we can't give up! We have to say our piece, go out and vote and get others to as well! It is important! To many people think that their vote won't make a difference so they do nothing. Apathy is the biggest evil…

  2. I was a Republican, but right now, I cannot claim to be one anymore! It is no longer the party I knew. The Romney/Ryan ticket scares me!I really fear for the country when I think of it in the hands of the extreme right! I don't know what happened but most politicians put the good of their party ahead of the good of their country! It seems to me, and I'm not an expert,just a regular person who takes an interest in politics, but it seems to me that a lot of Republicans, (not all) will do anything to block whatever the Democrats are trying to do, because they are Democrats, even if it is to the benefit of the country. The Democrats did it as well, but not nearly to the extent it has been done since Obama took office.I agree with you, Charlie! President Obama needs another four years to get what he wants to do done. No one can complete their plan in four years! Maybe, when and if the Republicans can break free from the extreme right fringe, they will be able to put forward a candidate that we would not worry so much about. Right now, we need Obama back!

  3. Charlie: The quote: “Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own…. Somebody else made that happen.” Barack Obama, 13 July 2012.I am not disputing that the government hasn't helped businesses succeed. Even during the 1800s when the government was "hands off," it still helped big business with higher tariffs on imported goods (to reduce foreign competition), by subsidizing the construction of transcontinental railroads to deliver goods to markets, and by not imposing regulations on working conditions, etc. But that's not what Obama SAID. The way it came across to the small business owners to whom he was speaking is that the GOVERNMENT built the business, not the small business owner. Not that the government HELPED build the business through public works programs (like road construction), through small business loans, through FEMA funds to rebuild, etc. If you think about it–it's the people who pay taxes who are supporting the small businesses and helping them get started, because they are the ones who are providing the money for the government to spend when building roads, making loans, dispersing FEMA funds, etc. The government would not have the money to spend without tax revenue paid by the American people. Plus, it’s the businessmen themselves—and their employees—who are doing the “manual labor” involved in making the business a success. They are the ones who are working 16+ hour days, not the government. They are the ones who are completing the paperwork, purchasing the property, designing (or modifying) the physical space, hiring employees, etc. That’s the point being made by the Republicans. I don’t object to improved safety in the workplace. I like having railings at the stairs, although I hope that the sprinkler in my faculty office doesn’t go off. But at the same time, some of the safety regulations are contradictory or pointless—and, just like it probably will be easier for some employers to pay the fine/tax instead of providing health care to their employees, it’s easier for some to pay the fine instead of complying with the regulations.You refer to the "crooks" who imploded the housing market or faked the LIBOR…why hasn’t the Obama administration bothered to prosecute them for their crimes? Is it possible because some of them contributed toward his campaign? And those public works programs–they weren't "infamous." They put people to work (just like the road construction with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009-2010), and those roads still exist today. Most of the roads used today, however, were started during the 1950s with the development of the interstate highway system under Eisenhower.

  4. Of course small business owners work hard to make them a success ( with the help of their employees, one assumes!) but does anyone seriously suggest ( and I suppose many of you do,) that they do not use government-built roads ( many constructed under the "infamous" public works programs of the 1930's) to deliver their product, take advantage of government-backed small business loans to get off the ground, apply to FEMA for funds to rebuild after a Katrina or Joplin? THAT"S what the President meant when he said that to some degree "we", all Americans have helped to build this economy and that government need not be an enemy to business, but a friend. Just because government intervenes to ensure certain safety standards at the workplace or consumer protection against toxic products or fair trade practices or regulations against the kind of "crooks" who imploded the housing market or faked the LIBOR – none of that is "anti" business, but "pro" Americans. And, by the way, I am talking about Government not Democrat or Republican but…GOVERNMENT!

  5. I wish to add to this dinner… I have my dish of Jello to contribute.. Karen once told me, “sometimes we need a little bit of Jello”, being as such, the discussions can get heavy and not very easy to digest.First …Jeannie,.. In this game of politics it has been obvious to me for a LONG time that you have to be as ruthless as you can, to gain position. Which is most unfortunate because we can see what people are really capable of, and to what length they will go to do it.. it happens in both parties.Even you Mr. Shaughnessy have said (in a Radio Blog) you wouldn't want to run for politics because it would compromise standards that you would prefer not to, (more or less from what I understood).. you went on to say, that you feel your words to the public can be just as beneficial being an avid supporter. (more or less, again, from what I understood).Mr. Shaughnessy, you say to us “Don't give up!”, Don't stay home!” Take responsibility for the future.. My question is.. How? I want to… I am very willing! But how?.. I don't feel like there are any handholds for me to grip. From what I understand about electoral votes, my vote is pointless anyway, it is the electoral that decides.. (as I am writing I am being to cry… I love this country so much, and feel hopeless in the change of making it better)Our democracy CAN work, it HAS worked, it is still functioning the best it can, at this point of misuse. But the men running the machine, have, for a long time, grown lazy and greedy and their agenda has become more important than the people. You say “Do not let your country down!” (very strong words to a simple housewife. ) What am I suppose to do ? (That is the real question I need the answer too.)So what am I getting too… Obama has a lot of 'Faith' in the country and I very much agree it is difficult to guide, direct, and change the runaway train this has been for a long time.Yet it is difficult for ANY man in that position, no matter the party. One thing I can see Romney has going for him is, .. 'Works.. Obama can only go so far on faith and I believe that faith without works is dead…Romney hasn't had the actual chance to take the reins and show us he can move this lumbering machine in a different direction,.. yet, his track record of picking up the shovel and digging the ditch with the rest of us… really,… is more that Obama had to offer on his last campaign. I'm not saying that Obama hasn't done some good. I think he has worked hard to try and make things better.. but there is a difference between trying and doing. His aggressiveness in taking care of a problem has been too passive, and is taking longer than it probably should. Romney seems to be his own man in making decisions and not someone who will take much from the puppeteer. The Tea Party can rant and rave, but will Romney give up on his work ethics to please them?.. At this point I don't think so. (I don't like the Tea Party much)I've very interested in watching what cards the Democrats play in their upcoming convention.. I'm like Karen, I like to look at all sides and make a choice.. The hardest part about this is that I don't even want to… I don't want to let my country down, I want to find a handhold to help and make a difference… It is not impossible. Just, I can't see the answer… where is it?PS, by the time I'm able to put this to paper, many moons will pass and other bloggers will post. I hope it makes sense to where it ends up in the thread… now I'll dismiss myself from Physics and Social Studies and return to Photography class…

  6. Saw Ryan's speech. My opinion: he is painting a picture of some perfect white picket fence utopian society that he remembers from his childhood. If only life was really like that for EVERYONE. Yes, the middle class lawyers kids and successful businessmen. And then their peaceful community and the icing on the cake.. church on Sunday at the same one they have always went to. Yada Yada! What else..? Lets all get together and make a decision to wash our cars on Saturday too. At least President Obama lives in here in the REAL world and not some made up fantasy land that less than half of America actually lives. Hello, what about the folks who lost their homes, drugs, violence, teen pregnancy, lost their home in a flood, & disgruntled employes who shoot people? (they are snapping) Who gives a flying poop about them? We are going to just plop everyone into a job and that is just going to solve all our problems. Here son here is a job now play nice. Wouldn't that be wonderful if life were such a sweet deal like that. What about those who can't afford insurance still? Those who get a job and still can't afford a house or barley food and gas? How the flip do we get to work? I heard defense for Medicare. What about Medicaid? All the camera showed was white folks with blue eyes and loved their wife and kids. Wonderful for them!! At least the President wants Healthcare for ALL. Not just working Americans and you heard how many folks are not working. And without Medicaid how the freak are they going to get to the doctor. So us ghetto folks are going to sit outside the white picket fences with our noses pressed against it and look at how American is suppose to be. Are we POOR and unfortunate not JUST as American as y'all? "Our rights From Nature and God"! What in the hell does that mean? Did i hear that right. I am suppose to go outside and consult the tress for my rights? God? So our Rights will be handed down by the bible or the book of Mormon or something. Oh shit!Yeah, i am still worrying! Sounds like a smokescreen of a dreamland America. Sounds good if you could really by in to that. And could i have a plot of land with that job Romney sir? Gimme a freaking break. They are only attracting the middle class Christin folks. What a surprise? Come on poor people and minority's, we have to get together on election day!!.. And Dr. G: You are speaking of the older party stances that the Democrats were against civil rights. That is true. But The Republicans actually switched their views. Making the old Democrat views are currently the Republican ones. The reason i know this is the majority of the older Democrats switched over to registered Republicans I heard this was because no one wanted the blue collar folks (which were largley southern) because of their fanatical type ranting and ravings (sound familiar) and the Republicans needed the votes at that so they rallied to get them by changing their views.

  7. One big fact/opinion:On August 14, Vice President Joe Biden told a largely African American audience in Virginia that Mitt Romney’s proposed Wall Street policies would put them “back in chains.” A few hours after Biden made this remark, an Obama campaign official said the president was “fine with it.” At another campaign event that same day, Biden said that the policies would put the African Americans “in shackles.” The slavery references were quite inappropriate, although they certainly fit into the Democratic Party’s contention that the Republican Party doesn’t value minorities (and anyone who watched all of the Republican National Convention, and not just the snippets on MSNBC that fit their agenda, knows this is not true), and it implies that the Republican Party advocates a return to slavery. Here’s the history lesson, folks: The Republican Party was the party that abolished slavery in the 1860s. The Democratic Party was the party that advocated slavery, that opposed the civil rights movement, that had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century (with filibusters blocking progress). African Americans (at least those who were allowed to vote) supported the Republican Party until the 1930s, when New Deal social welfare programs led to them switching to the Democratic Party. Of course, we’re also taking about a man who said in the same speech that GM and the automotive industry would be leading the U.S. into the 20th century (by outsourcing production of automobiles?) and that with their support the Democrats could win North Carolina (by crossing state lines to vote? No wonder some states have instituted voter ID laws).

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