Bill Maher has about as good a grasp in his interpretation of authentic religion as Charles
Manson had on his interpretation of the Beatles' Helter Skelter.
Bill, Christianity has its own critique of jingoistic, militaristic, homophobes and doesn't need
assistance from you, who, like Dennett, Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens, have never been
philosophically rigorous or theologically interesting. You are all superficial atheists who
engage superficial theists, ironically, on their own fundamentalistic terms. You are in no
position, therefore, to determine who is ignoring rather than interpreting Scripture and
No, a Christian does not rejoice in war and does not take revenge. Yes, a Christian may use
coercive force to defend innocents, including self. It is much too facile and way too cynical
to cursorily dismiss 2,000 years of Christian ethical reflection on nonviolence as a simple
squaring of a circle or a mere lawyering of the Bible.
Regarding who may be Christ followers versus "just fans," well Bill, charitably, we've always
left that distinction to Someone Else. Finally, you might want to stick with social and political
comedy and stay away from the topic of religion, where you are being far too, in a word,
religulous. You are embarassing - not just yourself, but - Camus, Feuerbach, Hobbes, Hume,
Nietzsche, Russell, Sartre and Voltaire.
John N Veronica
The distinction between a Christ-follower and a Christ-fan, in my view, speaks directly to
one's relationship with God vis a vis sin, hence my reluctance to frame the issue in that way.
This does not mean that we cannot discern and proclaim another's behavior as a failure to
cooperate with grace, only that we cannot ever know whether that failure results from
ignorance, poor formation or even de-formative influences, or from an outright refusal (sin).
Neither does it mean that such a failure should not be confronted and perhaps interdicted.
Because human morality is transparent to human reason without the benefit of any special
revelation, it is sufficient to draw distinctions between immoral and moral, ethical and
unethical, useful and unhelpful, behaviors without couching them (naively & facilely) in
explicitly theological categories.
The Christian unitive norms of love are well suited to moral and practical ends but their aims
otherwise transcend merely moral concerns and thus exemplify extraordinary virtue, thus
going beyond the universal norms of justice and ordinary virtue. The martyrs are therefore
extolled as widely recognized saints, but that doesn't mean that us run-of-the-mill anawim
are necessarily "just fans" because we choose to defend innocents or maybe even
More people DO need to speak out and challenge immoral and unethical, unhelpful and
ignorant, messages and behaviors but the pejorative use of fraught labels, especially where
we enjoy so little consensus regarding their meaning, should be avoided. A great deal of the
confusion, as I see it, results from poor critical thinking and philosophical category errors
(confusion between the methods of science, philosophy, culture and religion), so I tend to
address those, presuming ignorance but not malice.
It is not sufficient that Bill Maher be right in THAT religious fundamentalism is incorrect and
a problem, even a real danger. It is also necessary that he gets right exactly WHY it is
incorrect (and it is not because the religious fundamentalists' literal readings of Scripture are
not logically consistent with the Enlightenment fundamentalists' literal readings of
Scripture, for example). Rather than subvert religious fundamentalism, Maher dignifies it on
its own terms because he fails to understand why it is in error. Both religious and
Enlightenment fundamentalists need to accomplish the same paradigm shift, which draws
methodological distinctions between descriptive sciences, normative philosophies and
interpretive religions. (One has to feel sorry for some of the NALT atheists, too. Maybe they,
too, need to beef up their challenge of their own petty, narrow-minded and militant
Finally, even when one so happens to be right, and of course Maher is right regarding some
immoral behaviors, there is a RIGHT way to be right. People may not be able to strictly
define it but they know meanness when they hear and/or see it.
19 minutes ago · Like
John N Veronica I understand and appreciate complaints aimed at extremists on both Left
and Right but resist any broad generalizations re: secular vs religious, liberal vs conservative,
left vs right, and so on. I prefer to engage the best a tradition has to offer and not its worst
elements, authentic representatives and not caricatures.
2 seconds ago · Like
I am curious: How can you be a follower of Christ's teachings and at the same time justify
violence (even for self-defense)? You might be a follower of the church which would allow
certain exceptions but how is it possible to ignore "turn the other cheek" and "love your
Doesn't be a follower of someone mean to follow THEIR words and not the reﬂec ons
by other people in the following years?
Please don't consider my remarks as insults. I am really looking for an answer.
compassionatevegan 55 minutes ago
@compassionatevegan Some say His words apply more so to some eschatological
(future) realization of Kingdom values & not immediately. Others say His imperatives &
injunctives apply more so to a personal vocation & not political statecraft. That DOES sound
like lawyering! Jesus' words were not ambiguous. Pacifism, martyrdom and nonviolence
conform to the pattern of His Life and Teachings and are esteemed vocations. But following
isn't a simple either-or reality; rather, it is realized in degrees.
wfb2008rip 23 minutes ago
@compassionatevegan Continuing - So, in my view, there can be no theoretical
theological capitulation. What is encouraged sometimes, though, is a practical, pastoral
accommodation to human weakness. At the same time, Jesus is inviting us to extraordinary
virtue, to the unitive norms of love, which exceed the demands of justice. These go beyond
our universal moral norms, where self-defense is s ll ethical & part of ordinary virtue. One
does the best one can. Perfection isn't required.
wfb2008rip 14 minutes ago
@compassionatevegan We do not need special religious revelations to live a good &
ethical life because morality is transparent to all human reasoning. What differentiates the
Gospel in the marketplace, then, is not its moral teachings but, rather, the Good News that
the universe was both created & is far friendlier than one could ever imagine (b/c reality is
far too ambiguous for us & ambivalent toward us for us to otherwise draw such a
conclusion). God is Abba, Daddy, is the primary take-away!
wfb2008rip 6 minutes ago
@compassionatevegan Finally, rather than answering What can I know? (describing
reality) or What must I do? (norming reality), religion addresses What might I hope for?
Descriptive science answers: What's that? Evaluative cultures: What's that to us? Normative
philosophy: How might we best acquire/avoid that? Interpretive religion: How do we tie (re-
ligate) this all together? And it doesn't get to make up the answers to the 1st 3 ques ons.
It goes beyond but not without them. Hope this helps.
wfb2008rip 3 seconds ago
There are ~38,000 Chris an denomina ons. Who in their right mind imagines that
anyone speaks for us all? or that there is a consensus definition, even, of Christ-follower or
wfb2008rip 1 hour ago