Monday, January 11, 2010

Let's toast to hopelessness…

After noting that weekly church attendance in Europe is around 5%, compared to 35-40% in the U.S., [Carla] Berlinski writes [in Menace in Europe]:

“A poll conducted in 2002 found that while 61% of Americans had hope for the future, only 42% of the residents of the United Kingdom shared it. Only 29% of the French reported feeling hope, and only 15% of the Germans. These statistics suggest – to me, anyway – that without some transcendental common belief, hopelessness is a universal condition. I do not believe it is an accident that Americans are both more religious and more hopeful than Europeans, and more apt, as well, to believe that their country stands for something greater and more noble than themselves.”

… In Europe before the war, a great rabbi always made it a point of rising when a mentally or physically handicapped person entered the room. When his students asked why, he said that if God placed such a burden on an individual, he must have a very great spirit, and the rabbi rose to honor that spirit.

That’s an essential difference between the religious worldview (born of a neurological disorder?) and Maher’s perspective. The rabbi believes the mentally handicapped should be treated with respect. Maher thinks they’re sweet, loveable dogs.

–– in Don Feder's "Bill Maher –– The Village Atheist Meets the Village Idiot"

This gets at what Bertus was getting at.

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