Mike Kueber's Blog

March 29, 2012

Is there too much talk of religion in politics?

Filed under: Issues,Politics,Religion — Mike Kueber @ 1:25 am
Tags: , ,

An article in the San Antonio Express-News last week reported on a nationwide poll that found a slight plurality – 38% – of Americans think that politicians talk about religion too much.  But 30% think politicians don’t talk about religion enough, and only 25% think the amount of talk is just right.    The article also noted that only two years ago the numbers were almost reversed with on 29% thinking there was too much talk of religion by politicians and 37% thinking there wasn’t enough talk.

Although the numbers reveal declining support for the religious right, I would be careful not to read too much into them.  In my opinion, poll results like this one are misleading because they don’t reveal the passion or lack of passion for a position.  I am reminded of that bumper sticker that said, “Pro-life candidate will always get my vote.”  Some voters care deeply about one or a few issues, and a candidate’s position on that issue controls the vote.  Other voters don’t feel deeply about any particular issues and no particular issue controls the vote.  Even more importantly, voters who care deeply about an issue are much more likely to vote than someone who doesn’t have that deep concern.  That is why the NRA and Pro-Life lobbies have so much clout.

Thus, even though the pro-religion voters appear to be outnumbered by the anti-religion voters in the latest polling,  I don’t expect them to be outnumbered at the pools in November later this year.

February 17, 2012

Wedge issues

Filed under: Issues,Politics,Religion — Mike Kueber @ 2:32 pm
Tags: , , ,

I’ve blogged occasionally about American exceptionalism, usually to defend the position and to suggest that President Obama is not a true believer.  Over the course of debating the issue with liberal readers of my blog, I have moved a bit to the left and have come to believe that the issue is just one on a long list of so-called wedge issues that hyper-partisans waste time and energy bloviating about.  (“Bloviating” is one of Bill O’Reilly’s catch phrases.) 

Yesterday, while enjoying a Happy Hour with my friend Robert in Austin, we compared the American exceptionalism argument with the arguments of some (Franklin Graham) that President Obama may or may not be a Christian.    Although Robert and I took the typical red-blue positions, I believe these positions are genuine, not knee-jerk.

My position that President Obama is not a genuine Christian is based on the premise a genuine Christian thinks that the only way to heaven is through Jesus.  And I believe a person with a worldly perspective like President Obama (he famously said that he believes in American exceptionalism, just as the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism) is not going to believe that the billions of human beings around the world who are not exposed to Christianity are doomed.  That is not in Obama’s essence. 

Robert’s position (I think) is that perhaps my premise is wrong – i.e., President Obama truly believes in Jesus, but doesn’t accept the “fire & brimstone” preaching.  (Cafeteria Catholic?  Also see my earlier posting regarding the nascent movement amongst Evangelicals asking, “What if there is no hell?”)     

Who says that friends should avoid discussions of religion and politics?  Robert and I had an enjoyable, enriching discussion, and left Icenhauer’s as good of friends as ever.

But my point is that arguing over American exceptionalism or whether Obama is a true Christian does not move us in a positive direction or help us find common ground.  All it does is divide us.  It reminds me of Bill Bennett’s classic response when asked to comment on the validity of studies that show IQ differences between blacks, whites, and Asians.  Bennett said that he doesn’t waste his time trying to evaluate those studies because the answer is irrelevant.  Public or personal policy does not need to know whether races have different IQs.  Similarly, President Obama should be judged on his public policies, not on whether he genuinely believes in the concept of American exceptionalism or strict Christian orthodoxy.

January 1, 2012

In with 2012

Filed under: Philosophy,Politics,Religion — Mike Kueber @ 11:46 am
Tags: , , , ,

I started 2012 in grand fashion with a party at the home of my best friend, Mike Callen.  Food and drinks were consumed in abundance, with the youngsters (mostly under 25) congregating on the patio around a fire and the oldsters (mostly older than 50) sitting around the kitchen table.  Our conversation was wide-ranging, with a bit too much insurance talk for my taste, but later in the night we gravitated toward religion, either because it is one of my favorite topics or because Callen, who studied for almost four years to be a Jesuit priest, enjoys pointing out some of the finer points of Catholicism.  Among the questions discussed – is there a significant difference between Baptists and Catholics?  What about Catholics and Muslims?  Is Gandhi in hell?  Does God earthly perform day-to-day miracles?  Suffice to say that our discussion of religion has primed me to follow-up my “Out with 2011” posting with an “In with 2012” posting.    

Two of my three major concerns with 2011 were (a) my personal lack of productivity and (b) my diminished personal relationships.  I mention them together here because I think they can be solved together – through politics.  One of my principal interests in life is politics, and although I have concluded that I am not cut out to be a politician, I think I can serve in some sort of support capacity.  So in 2012, I intend to find a political job, probably as a volunteer for a politician or a cause/movement.  That sort of work will enable me not only to be productive, but also to connect on a personal level with other people.

My third major concern with 2011 had to do with finding a special person that “I can’t live without.”  As I noted in my posting, “I do think that woman is out there.”  Sometimes, however, the world doesn’t beat a path to your doorstep, and you need to go looking.  I once read a book titled, “Emotional Availability,” and I need to heed some of the lessons it taught me.  Soulmates anyone?  

2012 – let’s get started.