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Living Room Religious Diversity

In our living room a few minutes ago, I heard Julie raise her voice at Lucas, telling him to chill out, that there are lots of different ways to build churches, and people worship in different ways.

What?

By the time I got to the front of the house, the kids had moved on to something else. Julie said they — Lucas, 9, Nora, 6, and Lucas’s buddy Walker, who is 10 — were trying to build a church in Minecraft. It was riot of religious pluralism (Walker is Methodist). Julie said it was pretty funny, and started quoting lines she had heard from the kids.

Nora, for example, raised a ruckus about installing a holy water font.

Julie: “We don’t have fonts for holy water in our church. Are you trying to build a Catholic church?”

Nora: “No, I’m trying to build a church church.”

Julie tried to encourage Nora to embrace ecumenical compromise: “You know, they don’t use holy water in Walker’s church.”

Nora: “WHAT?!”

Julie overheard Nora and Lucas get into this argument:

Nora: “You have to have a bookshelf behind the altar. The priest has to have a place to keep the Gospel when he’s not reading it.”

Lucas (sometimes an altar boy): “Nora, there’s not a bookshelf back there. Have you ever been to the back of our church?”

Nora: “Duh, no, because girls can’t go back there!”

Then Nora started trying to build an iconostasis, and poor Walker had no idea what was going on.

It’s so strange for me to wrap my mind around the idea that for my children, Orthodox churches are the norm. Nora was the only one of us who was Orthodox from the moment of her baptism, but the boys were so young when we converted that they have no memory of Catholic churches. I seem to recall that when he was young, and we were still Catholic, Matthew entered his grandparents’ Methodist church, and was disoriented because there was nothing on the walls or the altar. He thought it wasn’t complete. This struck me as odd, but then I realized he had never seen any other kind of church but Catholic.

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71 Comments To "Living Room Religious Diversity"

#1 Comment By Joanna On August 10, 2013 @ 6:55 pm

Sigh.

Because where books are forbidden women are often also. Quick study that little one.

#2 Comment By Bernie On August 10, 2013 @ 7:12 pm

Siarlys,

Why do you frequently make pejorative comments about the Catholic Church in different threads? I can understand if you’d want to explain your religious view on an issue, or clarify or challenge a remark made about your beliefs, but why do you make anti-Catholic comments which are *unprovoked*?

For example, in this thread you say: “In a church church, we do have baptisms, but we use water water, not holy water. We know that the pledge being made by the parents (or full immersion adults for themselves) and the notice God takes is what’s important, not the elements from the periodic table and ionic compounds in solution.” Why would you find this approach necessary?

Another quote from this same thread: “I’m rather puzzled that a Christian would voluntarily subordinate themselves to the Vatican when they have the option to be free, but I can comprehend that some find this a reasonable way they can reassure themselves that they are following God — they want an external yardstick to meaure their compliance.”

I quote you once more, from the very next post: “… that the advent of the printing press made a big difference in the spread and staying power of “Sola Scriptura,” since during the middle ages there was about one Bible per village, chained to the lectern in the one and only Roman Catholic Church. It also spread the less rigid notion that everyone has to grapple for themselves with what God is really saying to us and calling us to.”

I freely share what my church teaches, when I feel it is appropriate and not insulting to another religion. Sometimes I feel responsible for clarifying or denying a statement made about my religion by another commenter. But when implied or direct criticism of another particular religion is not prompted or necessary, I think it is…well… *unseemly* is the nicest word I can use.

The readers of Rod’s posts know you are a Protestant, you don’t believe in papal infallibility, or a hierarchical church or any other authority than individual interpretation of the Bible. Fine. I respect that you believe these things. I just ask that you share your beliefs in a way that doesn’t appear to be unnecessarily attacking my church.

#3 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On August 10, 2013 @ 7:25 pm

[NFR: I do not believe we are born atheists, but rather that all of us are born with some kind of religious sense, though we may lose it, or fail to cultivate it. Anyway, my children have been baptized as Christians, and Christians they are. — RD]

This is getting a bit far afield, but there have been some rather interesting studies on infants to toddlers to determine what knowledge (if any) is built into the human mind. It appears that humans have instinctive knowledge on many things like: face recognition, object permanence, basic physical laws, a fear of visual cliffs, and the ability to acquire language. Even aspects of temperament like shyness or boldness appear to be hardwired at an early age. So we’re far from blank slates when we’re born.

But it’s impossible to do a controlled experiment on abstract concepts like theism or atheism. However across all cultures there’s an interesting trend that women are significantly more religious than men. So this suggests that religiosity or its lack involves some genetic preloading. But culture has a huge role in the expression of it.

#4 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 10, 2013 @ 9:43 pm

We wouldn’t speak of a Keynesian child or a Monetarist child or a Neomercantilist child, so we shouldn’t speak of an Orthodox Christian (or Mormon, or Jewish, or Zoroastrian) child.

This is comparing horse apples to navel oranges. Horse apples have their uses — primarily fertilizing the ground to grow healthy nourishing organic fruits and vegetables, although one must be careful not to get e.coli in the unpasteurized organic apple juice. But this is very different from the common uses of fragrant navel oranges.

Religion, or affirmative denial of religion, is definitive of one’s life, values, relation to fellow humans, place in the universe, in a manner that adhering to an economic theory is not. George W. Bush had no trouble proclaiming “We are all Keynesians now” when he found that he had nothing else to apply to looming economic disaster. It would have been a shift of a very different order if he had said “We are all Muslims now” on Sept 12, 2001. Further, he had control of economic policy. He had no control of either Truth, or what any other person believed to be the Truth.

As to the claims of Truth, I prefer to start at the base rather than at the disparate pinnacles.

1) We are not alone in the cold cruel universe, there is a metaphysical transcendence that is beyond what we are physically cognizant of. Most of us will agree, some don’t, including Bad Religion and MH Misanthrope.

2) There is one God, who created all that is seen and unseen. At this point, we lose Franklin Evans, many if not most strands of Buddhism, possibly the Taoists, but we have all the Jews, Christians, and Muslims on board, probably a few other religions as well.

3) Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, by whom alone all men are called to salvation. Well, there we lose the Jews and Muslims, although Muslims have more respect for Jesus than Jews do. But points (1) and (2) are quite substantial levels of agreement.

4) Christ established one Holy and Apostolic Church, annointing the patriarchs and bishops to shepherd his flock until the end of time. Many of the Protestants are now cleaved away, although not so obviously, since most of us recite the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed.

5) The Pope is a heretic, because he put his own self and office above the patriarchal leadership of all those to whom Christ entrusted His Church. There go the Romans…

Rather than saying two faiths that have different teachings can’t both be true, I would say, what two or more faiths agree on is more likely to be true than what only one faith agrees on, but any one faith could be right as to what they disagree with others on.

But its true, as long as you have reason to believe that your way is true, and others are not, as long as you recognize everyone’s right to make their own choices about how best to find the truth, we shouldn’t really have a conflict.

A wise Unitarian minister observed, your children are empty glasses. If you don’t fill them with your values, someone else will fill them with some other values. To proclaim that children are born atheists is not to observe that the glass is empty, it is to proclaim what the glass shall be filled with. It may be that children are born agnostic… but then, it may be that children are born filled with the spirit of God. How do you know otherwise?

#5 Comment By Ben in SoCal On August 10, 2013 @ 9:49 pm

New England is home to legions of aesthetically pleasing houses of God. There wasn’t enough money in the area to “wreckovate” parishes after Vatican II, even though much was done to alter the interiors. I love the traditional churches and architecture. Yes, I have avoided attending parishes due to modernistic meeting house styles and very lacking hymns.

That being said, church architecture is a “small t” tradition of men, not the “big T” Tradition of God and the Church. Frankly, our high alters and Byzantine icon screens could be ripped away tomorrow; the great cathedrals and domed churches could crumble soon, both Reims and Sophia reduced to dust. And yet the ancient Fath would survive, because it is not predicated on precepts of men, but on the eternal truths of God.

Give me an upturned canoe in the New England forest an day of the week! God’s Creation is the greatest spot for worship.

#6 Comment By Bernie On August 10, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

Siarlys,

To my above comment seen shortly before yours, let’s add #5 in this, your newest anti-Catholic comments. Amazing. You have four anti-Catholic comments for two successive blogs.

By the way, I regard Franklin Evans as one of the politest, most respectful of our commenters. We could all learn from him.

#7 Comment By Novamama On August 10, 2013 @ 10:58 pm

When I first read the claim that “there is no such thing as a Christian child, only a child of Christian parents” several years ago in Richard Dawkins’ article “How dare you call me a fundamentalist,” I immediately wondered if he knew any children. (He does, it turns out, have one daughter). I would have thought that anyone who knows several children well would realize that they definitely have opinions and beliefs of their own, about politics, religion, and all sorts of things. Some of these are learned from their parents, and some are quite different. Some of those opinions and beliefs may change when they grow up, and some may not. To deny that a child could be a Christian, or a believer of any other religion, is simply absurd and runs counter to observable fact.

A child could no doubt be a monetarist as well; the only reason it sounds silly is because very few children have opinions about monetary policy. Lots of children, however, have opinions about God.

[NFR: Ah, Dawkins. Of course. The Screwtape guy who used that line was just quoting his guru. — RD]

#8 Comment By dominic1955 On August 10, 2013 @ 11:57 pm

“To my above comment seen shortly before yours, let’s add #5 in this, your newest anti-Catholic comments. Amazing. You have four anti-Catholic comments for two successive blogs. ”

That’s why they’re called “protestants”, their whole raison d’etre is protesting against us.

#9 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On August 11, 2013 @ 12:07 am

Bernie,

If you can’t deal with the heat, stay out the kitchen. I find Siarlys’ comments to be almost invariably thoughtful and interesting, although I often disagree with him.

To take a stand in favour of Lutheran theology is necessarily (on some issues) to take a stand against Catholic theology. that’s the nature of debate.

#10 Comment By Tina Gilson On August 11, 2013 @ 1:58 am

Angela – I respect your free will to act on any calling you feel you are entitled to, but I don’t have to agree, and that’s why there are tens of thousands of denominations, sects and cults in our age. The very idea of acting on any feel good impulse has become a right in this age. Once modern life became centered on the individual’s wants and needs rather than the community or society’s expectations, the idea of submitting to cultural or gender limits became repressive and backwards.

#11 Comment By JonF On August 11, 2013 @ 9:55 am

Re: There are very specific and biblically traditional reasons why girls (and boys and men who don’t have a liturgical reason for being back there) are not allowed in the altar. It isn’t solely gender but your calling to be there.

Tina,
It is not true that women are categorically forbidden from the altar. Vowed nuns may serve there, and historically, deaconesses and subdeaconesses served in the altar.
Strictly speaking, it is lay people in general, not women, who are not to be in the altar. However the decline of the various minor orders left a vacuum, and the Divine Liturgy is labor intensive, so men would be called to assist and given a temporary blessing to serve. This is by economia only, not some ancient tradition based on men being worthy and women not.

#12 Comment By The Wet One On August 11, 2013 @ 11:58 am

[NFR: Why is it so hard for you to accept that some people believe that X is right and true, but that does not necessarily imply that those who believe Not-X must be “oppressed, suppressed, made illegal, or what have you”? I think Presbyterians are wrong, but not as wrong as Muslims, who aren’t as wrong as atheists. I have no desire to live in disharmony with Presbyterians, Muslims, or atheists. Presumably, you are not an Orthodox Christians, and therefore think Orthodox Christians are quite wrong about some important things. Do you feel the temptation to oppress, suppress, or outlaw Orthodox Christianity? If not, why not? Can you not imagine that religious believers may feel the same sense of tolerance towards those who don’t share their convictions that you do? — RD]

The historical evidence is that human beings tend to behave in ways that the Not-X folks get oppressed or unfairly disadvantaged in some way or another. It isn’t only in the realm of religion, it is in all kinds of realms (political, class, occupation, ideological, etc.). I think it goes back to group recognition. I.e., there’s us, and there’s not us, if you will. Some of these disadvantages are justified, others, much less so. In my view, very few of the oppressions are justified, but even in this there are exceptions, such as incarceration for criminals. That said, so often the oppressions based on people being “not us” have been egregious, to the tune of millions and millions of dead. Egregious to the point of being existentially threatening, leading to the creation of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, to, I suppose, erase any distinction between “us / not us” by killing everyone. This, of course, has a certain appeal to me, but I digress.

Frequently, the group of folks who is “not us” haven’t been treated terribly well. Certainly not always, nor even most of the time on a day to day basis, but the most egregious examples of mistreatment (take your pick, there’s plenty of them in the record) always have this factor about them, and I suppose always will. It’s the human condition right?

As I read this, I hear the nonsensicalness of it (it is uncomfortable), but I suppose it makes sense to me, given my nihilistic tendencies. The whole mess of humanity, every last one of them, shares the same propensity for this problem.

Do I feel the temptation to oppress, suppress or outlaw Orthodox Chrisitanity? No. I consciously try not to put anyone into that “Other” category that makes it easy to persecute them. But I do have a general annhilatory misanthropy from which no one is exempt.

As for your last question, yes I most certainly do imagine that. I see it quite regularly and know that it is real. Still, one would be foolish to ignore history and how humans behave with regards to such things. Jewish people, for example, seem to know this better than most by dint of experiences worse than that of many.

#13 Comment By The Wet One On August 11, 2013 @ 1:09 pm

“I don’t see what’s childlike about the view that “Christianity is right, and Islam is wrong”, or even “Eastern Orthodoxy is right, and Episcopalianism is wrong.” If two religions claim incompatible things- and nearly all of them do- then they can’t both be right.”

It is childlike in this way, in the real world, there are shades of grey, rarely absolutes, and knowing the difference between when to make a stink about something or not and how to handle such things is something the adults do, not children. Thus the child is scolded by his parents for saying “Mister you’re not supposed to be eating that!” because the parents are the adults in the room and know when and how to make such comments, if at all.

Also, some truths matter more than others. In my view, religious truths don’t rank that high. They aren’t worth all the blood that has been shed over them, though the ink that’s spilled is just fine by me. Similarly, the differences between communism and capitalism, while certainly worthy of serious, meaningful disagreement, are not worth nuclear holocaust.

Only children are completely complete comfortable with moral absolutism. They don’t yet know, as an adult should, where moral absolutism can take you.

Moral absolutism used here means “This way is the only right and true way.” Hitler was full of it.

As for this:

“If two religions claim incompatible things- and nearly all of them do- then they can’t both be right.”

I agree. According to some counts, there are in excess of 4,000 gods and even more religions. Since none of them does a particularly sound job of evidencing their godly existence or religious truth, it is most expedient (orginally I wrote wisest, but yes, it’s expediency and an application of Occam’s Razor) to believe that none of them exist or are correct. That won’t satisfy the requirement believed by some to exist for a thorough investigation of the matter, but that requirement is a matter of opinion. It’s not, except that one sincerely believes in hell, a requirement of day to day living. And there’s real problems with this kind of hell, in terms of determining truth. If you don’t believe, you’ll burn thereby incentivizing belief through fear of hell, irrespective of the truth. Once you see it that way, let’s just say that whatever “truth” such a religion proposes loses a measure of its credibility.

That said, for human well-being, some religions are definitely better than others. Those that submit to the figurative adult in the room (whatever that is, I hesitate to say the state given it’s childlike excesses), seem to be better than the others for human welfare.

[NFR: If Hitler had strong convictions, then anybody who has strong beliefs must be a crypto-Hitler? Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Richard Dawkins, all Hitlers, in theory? Isn’t the real problem what one’s convictions are, not the strength with which one holds them? — RD]

#14 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 11, 2013 @ 2:38 pm

Bernie… why would I attack your church? To coin a phrase, some of my best friends are devout Roman Catholics, and there was a nun at my mother’s funeral. The “church church” and “water water” remark swung on one of Rod’s kids saying they were trying to build a “church church” and Mrs. Dreher observing that not all churches have holy water. I was merely pointing out that you can have baptism without a special water, and it means something, or, you can have baptism with holy water, if that is important to you.

Methinks you take any statement of difference to be an “anti-Catholic” comment. That might be true, IF you are so wedded to the notion that your church is the One True Church, that any assertion that any other way is valid strikes you as “anti-Catholic.” Someone observed that Catholics and Orthodox have churches and all the rest of us have whatever descriptive it is the Popes bestowed upon us. If you want to think so, feel free, but the local Baptist Church will have the word “church” on its signboard and its program.

I AM puzzled that a person would voluntarily submit to the Vatican, but I know many do, and not out of sheer superstition or some necromancy of priestcraft, but out of genuine conviction. So I noted some positive reasons why that I’ve gleaned from studying the subject. This you take offense at?

Are you denying that in certain centuries there was one Bible per village? If so, state your counter-factual argument and evidence. If not, don’t tie yourself in knots over it. I was commenting on the rather limited role technology may well play, while denying the idolatry of worshiping the Mac.

And I did not say that the Pope IS a heretic. I noted that there are those who believe it, and these people are on that pointed divided from Roman Catholics, regardless of what other beliefs they may hold in common. I actually took the language from a past comment by someone of the Orthodox faith, who said the difference between Catholic and Orthodox is not that the Pope is an authoritarian meany, but that the Pope is a heretic.

My own personal thought on heresy, also often expressed here and elsewhere derives from what I have read by individuals who have studied ancient Greek, which I have not. Several have said that the word Paul used, translated “heresy,” had connotation of party or faction. On that basis, I, somewhat amateurishly, but in the tradition of the Great Awakening, have offered the thought that orthodoxy is the heresy in power, that Athanasius and Arias were both heretics, that their heresy was to split the church between rival factions over matters no man can know for certain, and in this sense, I might say that the Pope is a heretic, but then, so is Martin Luther, for the same reason.

(Thanks Hector. We do lock horns and exchange some very barbed lances at times, but I generally find your writing thoughtful and challenging also.)

#15 Comment By Bernie On August 11, 2013 @ 4:48 pm

Thanks for taking the time to respond to me, Siarlys.

#16 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 11, 2013 @ 11:40 pm

I’m always happy to explain myself Bernie. I grew up in a neighborhood where almost all my playmates were Catholics, some attending Catholic schools, some attending public schools, but all going to Catholic churches. And the local Catholic high school was the originator of the biggest anti-war protests. So, are we on terms once again to have lunch sometime?

#17 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 11, 2013 @ 11:53 pm

In my seldom humble opinion, and it is, in the end, only my opinion, everyone in the debate about childishness and moral absolutism is shooting themselves in the foot.

The real world does have shades of grey. Nuance is important, and seeking absolute results from a complex world does tend to result in bloodshed, massive bloodshed, and unproductive bloodshed at that.

But, it is not childish per se to believe that there is a transcendent Truth to the universe, and to believe that the faith one practices is the way to understand that Truth. What is childish is to assert that I know this so well that I can coerce, require, force, demand, you to do it my way, not the way you believe leads you to the Truth. Thus, I recognize the right of a Roman Catholic to be a Roman Catholic, and to say, this I believe to be true, but I deny the right of a Roman Catholic to insist that I must believe what they believe.

As to what I believe, I believe in God the Father Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth, and as to Jesus, I believe his presence on earth, human, divine, or both, offers significant insight to what God expects of me and has for me. I don’t try to understand in more detail than that, not because there is no Truth to know, but because I have no way of knowing for sure, and the history of theologians trying to work it all out only shows me that no human authority has any authority on the matter. If a particular discipline and belief as to what is True brings you closer to God or even allows you to live a better life, by all means, follow it. Shedding blood over the difference is of no meaning or purpose whatsoever.

Belief in 4000 gods does not show that it is expedient to believe in no god. It shows that human understanding of The God is imperfect.

Now its true that Hitler’s strong convictions were not the most coherent point to criticize, since many good people have had strong convictions, and many people with pathetic convictions (e.g. Richard Dawkins) did not amount to a Hitler. But by the same token, just because, e.g., Marxists have strong convictions, does not render Marxism a religion. It is a political and economic philosophy held by people with strong convictions — although some Marxists have some weak convictions. As to religion, plenty of Marxists have been faithful church members, or synagogue members, although those who are anti-Marxist Jews or Christians will deny that a Marxist can be a REAL believer in whatever faith is under discussion.

#18 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On August 12, 2013 @ 12:45 am

Re: Similarly, the differences between communism and capitalism, while certainly worthy of serious, meaningful disagreement, are not worth nuclear holocaust.

I don’t think anyone said they were (for that matter, I don’t think anything is) so I’m not sure with whom you’re disagreeing.

Re: Those that submit to the figurative adult in the room (whatever that is, I hesitate to say the state given it’s childlike excesses), seem to be better than the others for human welfare.

Some people would say that there is an adult in the room, and that adult is the Pope, or the Patriarch of Constantinople, or the Patriarch of Alexandria, or someone else. Obviously, I disagree with them, but if you really, really want spiritual authority on earth, there are people who have that on offer. As they say, be careful what you wish for, because you might get it.

Re: (Thanks Hector. We do lock horns and exchange some very barbed lances8 at times, but I generally find your writing thoughtful and challenging also.)

You’re welcome. Beyond that, I think your heart is certainly in the right place, and I probably agree with you on more than I disagree.

Re: I was merely pointing out that you can have baptism without a special water, and it means something, or, you can have baptism with holy water, if that is important to you.

I’m pretty sure the Roman Catholic Church considers the baptisms of your church (I think I remember you being Lutheran, but correct me if I’m wrong) to be valid. Which means they consider the water to be holy, by virtue of the intention and baptismal formula, whether or not you believe it’s specially holy.

#19 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 12, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

I’m Methodist, but I often visit a Lutheran church where I am not eligible for communicant membership. I’d be lying if I answered affirmatively to the questions they ask when offering the right hand of fellowship. It would be a particularly poor occasion for lying in church. But as doctrine doesn’t mean much to me, I have no difficulty attending. The church is doing a lot of good in the neighborhood, and my home church is in the DC area.

If the Roman Catholic Church considers my (Presbyterian) baptism to be valid, that’s one less thing I disagree with the RC church about. I agree that intention is more important than either chemical content or ritual blessing.

#20 Comment By The Wet One On August 12, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

[NFR: If Hitler had strong convictions, then anybody who has strong beliefs must be a crypto-Hitler? Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Richard Dawkins, all Hitlers, in theory? Isn’t the real problem what one’s convictions are, not the strength with which one holds them? — RD]

When those strong convictions have negative impacts on the lives of others, something which I think all can recognize (I’m pretty sure even Hitler recognized that killing Jews wasn’t good for the Jews from their perspective even if it was from his perspective), without a concommitant strong conviction in people pursuing their own interests without interference, those strong convictions are indeed dangerous.

So, in short yes, the problem is what one’s convictions are. Moral absolutists don’t tend to care too much about their strong conviction’s impacts on others. They seem to be quite willing to step out of the realm of ideas and argument and go for unlimited force, fraud and action to coerce others into compliance with their strong convictions. Those of strong convictions with a matching strong conviction in “live and let live” or somesuch, are much less of a threat.

As for the crypto-Hitlers, I’m quite sure that to the extent we’re all human, we all have a little Hitler in us. Heck, I’ve had a lengthy conversation with mine. It was most informative! Slaughter and savagery is as natural to humans as parental love and tenderness. So yes, in my view, Mother Theresa, Ghandi, Dawkins are, in theory, all crypto-Hitlers, just like everyone else.

#21 Comment By The Wet One On August 12, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

Siarlys,

You said that much better than I did here:

“But, it is not childish per se to believe that there is a transcendent Truth to the universe, and to believe that the faith one practices is the way to understand that Truth. What is childish is to assert that I know this so well that I can coerce, require, force, demand, you to do it my way, not the way you believe leads you to the Truth. Thus, I recognize the right of a Roman Catholic to be a Roman Catholic, and to say, this I believe to be true, but I deny the right of a Roman Catholic to insist that I must believe what they believe.”

And Hector, I’m not talking about a spiritual “adult in the room.” I’ll concede that I could be, as the Pope seemed to be that authority in the middle ages, but I’m pretty sure that whomever or whatever the “adult in the room” is today, it isn’t religious in nature. It’s most likely the state, but that’s probably not enough alone. Perhaps the state, plus the rule of law, plus a commitment to the rational discussion and decision making on the legitimate use of state power against individuals and groups and generally severe limits on the use of that power. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but it seems to have brought us more peace in this respect than has been seen in the West for a long time. Of course, it can all come crashing down in a fresh religiously inspired war in the West at any time, so perhaps it is merely illusory. But a fresh religiously inspired war in West seems pretty far fetched these days, doesn’t it? That was not always so. Whatever it is that accounts for this change is evidence of the “adult in the room” that makes a religiously inspired war in the West far fetched.

Now, if only we could generate a similar thing for all the other violent friction points between groups of humans, we’ll be a step closer to a somewhat better world. One step at a time I suppose.