Letters to the editor, Week of March 30, 2017

Some hurting is good

To the editor:

Recently I have received some criticism for a letter to the editor I wrote some time ago in reaction to another letter-writer calling America a “Christian Nation” and founded on “Christian values.” In my response, I pointed out that not only is this claim historically incorrect, it is also unnecessarily exclusive and antithetical to the original vision of the very founding fathers people use to bolster this fallacious claim.

The primary objection to my pointing out the inaccuracy of this assertion is that I “hurt people” by doing so. If it is “hurtful” to correctly point out the inaccurate and injurious views of others, then it is the best kind of pain and we should all feel it more often.

For those still feeling injured, ask yourselves how you would feel should I make the claim, “America is a Muslim Nation founded on Muslim values!”

“Foul,” you cry! “Inaccurate,” you scream. “This is my America!” you insist.

Yes, and that is exactly how non-Christian Americans feel when they hear you making this claim.

But it is the historical inaccuracy that bothers me the most. And I think it warrants a brief lesson in basic Western History:

Hopefully you already know that America declared independence in 1776, but perhaps you are not aware of the broader context of this historical period. The ideas and vision of the men and women responsible for the birth of America were a product of their times and those ideas did not suddenly spring into being in that summer of revolution.

So what was this context? You may remember from sophomore history class something called “The Age of Enlightenment,” or “The Age of Reason.” According to Wikipedia, The Age of Enlightment was “an intellectual movement which dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century,” and included “a range of ideas centered on reason as the primary source of authority and legitimacy, and came to advance ideals like liberty, progress, tolerance, fraternity, constitutional government, and separation of church and state.” Does that sound like the Christian religion at the end of the 16th Century? No.

Our founding fathers were children of this intellectual movement.

The entire drive of this cultural revolution was in reaction to the previous one thousand years of Christian autocracy in Western Europe. It began with the Reformation of the 16th Century and culminated in the French Revolution in 1790. Our Founding Fathers were born at the peak of this anti-religious fervor.

If you had asked a person in the 18th Century what the values of a Christian society were, they would not mention freedom of speech, equality or individual freedoms. These were new ideas put forth by our Founding Fathers and others like them, in contrast to existing Christian ideas about government, such as the Divine Right of Kings (which was a Christian idea adopted from the Romans).

Twenty-first century Christianity has changed to conform to the ideas put forth during the Enlightenment — not the other way around. Those that put forth the idea I’m objecting to are projecting their current values back in time rather than looking at the actual historical record.

If our Founding Fathers had truly created a “Christian Nation” or based it on the “Christian Values” of their time, we would not have a free democracy but an autocratic theocracy, just as we had for over a thousand years during the time when the universal Christian church was the dominant force in the Western world.

It is a very good thing that Christians now include “freedom of speech” and “individual liberties” as a part of their value system, but that is a recent adoption as the result of our enlightened Founding Fathers creating a nation in spite of established religion, not because of it. Thank God our founders had the foresight to create a nation absent the controlling effects of organized religion! And so thankful that the institution of Christianity has, for the most part, finally seen the light!

Eric Austin
China

Eric is an atheist living in a predominantly Christian society and he thinks this is his America, too!

Clever move to wait on price hike

To the editor:

Dear readers, try to vision this scenario: You drive into a place with a large building with flags out and the building has large windows fronting where you are driving in. Inside sits a little man at a desk with a comfortable pillow for his behind. This man feels his duty is to scan, stare and whatever, to see if people/citizens who, in his opinion, need to be watched are up to something, Suddenly, he sees his quarry and quickly sends out his troops to check on a person or persons who have invaded his domain. Albeit not stealthy, his troops slowly approach and not saying “papers please,” although implied by their demeanor but not saying anything, just looking as does the man in the tower.

Got the picture? No, it’s not 1930s Germany and the little man is not you know who. And his troops are not SS men. All these people work for the infamous Tri-County Solid Waste Transfer Station, located in Union.

Now, understandably, realize they have to be aware of “innocent violators” who make mistakes and don’t realize some things do not belong in some containers, but more and much larger signs need to be posted to eliminate this terrible misunderstanding between Tri-county and its customers. Concerning keeping bags and money inside the building I have a good suggestion. Let the little man who has way too much time on his hands, to have people come into his office and let him collect the money for bags. One problem solved and should let Tri-county know that you have to make money, but, as taxpayers and consumers of your bags, we be treated with a little more respect. I will close with, according to what I have heard, you were very clever in waiting for my town to sign a contract with you before raising the bag price by 50-cents.

Frank Slason
Somerville

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