Friday, November 30, 2007

Love Ben Stein (better late than never...)

SEE THE NOTE BELOW FIRST--thank you Emano!!!:

I don't know that I agree with everything Mister Stein has to say, but I have to say it's refreshing honesty to hear this at all.

I still think religion belongs at home rather than at school, but it's nuts to actively deny the Judeo roots of our legal system--though school is not the place for prayer (unless it's private and before an exam) home is. Synagogue is. Church is.

Seriously, who wants a teacher leading prayers. Honestly! Like when did I get a Divinity degree???

At the same time, the atheists I know are the most ethical folks I know as--for them--there are no easy answers. They have to actually think about right-and-wrong rather than just have a spoon-fed, knee-jerk response (which may be wrong...witness the Teddy Bear). And while I'm totally on-board with the Nick and Jessica thing, I'm a little unnerved by the "they asked for it" overtones on the good folks who died or who's children committed suicide...

Regardless. It's interesting to read, no?

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS

Sunday Morning Commentary.


My confession:


I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And
it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those
beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel
threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are:
Christmas trees.

It doesn't bother me a bit when people say 'Merry Christmas' to
me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in
a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all
brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't
bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key
intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a cradle
there, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred
yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don't think
Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think
people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed
around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that
America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the
Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: Where did the idea come from
that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to
worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm
getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering
where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went
to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this
is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not
funny, it's intended to get you thinking.

[See below. This part did NOT come from Ben Stein...I wondered...]          Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane
Clayson asked her 'How could God let something like this happen?'
(regarding Katrina) Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and
insightful response. She said, 'I believe God is deeply saddened by
this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get
out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of
our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly
backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His
protection if we demand He leave us alone?'

In light of recent events...terrorists attack, school shootings,
etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was
murdered, her body found recently) complained she didn't want prayer
in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not
read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou
shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when
they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped
and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed
suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And
we said OK.

Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why
they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to
kill strangers, their classmates and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out.
I think it has a great deal to do with 'WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.'

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why
the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the
newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you
can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire but
when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think
twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene
articles pass freely through cyberspace but public discussion of God
is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many
on your address list because you're not sure what they believe or
what they will think of you for sending it. Funny how we can be more
worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of
us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit. If not then just discard
it...no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought
process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world
is in.


My Best Regards. Honestly and respectfully,
Ben Stein
Amen




NOTE:
THANK YOU EMANO! Here's the REAL original:

Intro from Scopes:
Stein, a lawyer by training, has also served as a speechwriter for President Richard M. Nixon, has to date authored sixteen books (both novels and non-fiction efforts), and continues to write editorials and columns for a number of prominent publications. He is perhaps best known to the world at large, however, for his in-front-of-the-camera work as the dreadfully dull economics teacher in the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off (and his similar role as the monotonic science teacher Mr. Cantwell on the TV series The Wonder Years) and as the keenly competitive host of the Comedy Central game show Win Ben Stein's Money.

Mr. Stein currently offers occasional commentaries for the CBS Sunday Morning news program, and the item quoted above is based on one such commentary, entitled "Confessions for the Holidays" and delivered by Mr. Stein on that program on 18 December 2005, one week before Christmas. However, the version widely circulated via e-mail includes some transcription errors and modifications that were not part of the piece as originally aired. Here is the full version as broadcast, taken from a CBS News transcript of the program:
CHARLES OSGOOD, host: We all have our own thoughts about the holidays. Here's Ben Stein with his.

BEN STEIN: Here at this happy time of year, a few confessions from my beating heart. I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are.

(Footage of People magazine; Us magazine)

STEIN: I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I'm buying my dog biscuits. I still don't know. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores who they are. They don't know who Nick and Jessica are, either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they've broken up? Why are they so darned important?

(Footage of People magazine)

STEIN: I

don't know who Lindsay Lohan is either, and I don't care at all about Tom Cruise's baby.

(Vintage footage of congressional hearing)

STEIN: Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I'm a subversive? Maybe. But I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are. Is this what it means to be no longer young? Hm, not so bad.

Next confession: I am a Jew and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish, and it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautifully lit-up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees.

(Footage of Christmas trees)

STEIN: I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are — Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say 'Merry Christmas' to me. I don't think they're slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. I shows that we're all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year.

It doesn't bother me one bit that there's a manger scene on display at a key intersection at my beach house in Malibu.

(Footage of manger scene; menorah)

STEIN: If people want a creche, fine. The menorah a few hundred yards away is fine, too. I do not like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat. Or maybe I can put it another way. Where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and aren't allowed to worship God as we understand him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we used to know went to.

5 comments:

Agathon said...

Here's another point of view on the same topic:

http://rachellucas.com/?p=440

Emano said...

The end part (the part about Billy Graham's daughter and Madeleine Murray O'Hare) was not written by Stein but added on.

http://tiny.cc/yi9Wm (from Snopes.com)

Dawn said...

emano, thank for the snopes link...i was just going to post some comments about the decidedly un-stein-ish nature of some of the thoughts in the last bits.

heather, i agree with the "refreshing"...at least on the original text. our celebrity culture is out of hand by several hundred degrees of magnitude. our religious insensitivity (or in some cases over-sensitivity I guess) is too.

The added bits I find trite....the same old tired rhetoric. my pov...pray if you like...but don't make me. have all the faith you want in whatever you want...just let me do the same.

i can find enlightenment and joy in learning about other faith traditions and welcome the chance to do so.

i don't believe hitting kids and parenting by instilling fear is the answer....it's the cop-out. i've found the book "parenting beyond belief" extremely helpful in formulating answers to those tough questions from a more humanist perspective. it's not easy, but i think it's a valuable exercise to really mindfully think about verbalizing your beliefs in terms not directed by or limited to religious dogma.

thanks for the poke.

Emano said...

Glad to be of sercvice!

Dawn said...

In case you guys don't get Leonard Pitts Jr. in your paper:

http://www.miamiherald.com/living/columnists/leonard_pitts/story/332453.html

kind of scares me when i agree with him sometimes, but hey, at others he has a knack for saying it how it is.