Battling Ben Stein

While Ben Stein might be an intelligent and well-known man, his thoughts are no more valid than other thinking beings’ ideas.  There is commentary circulating in letter form attributed to Mr. Stein, although it’s been modified several times, and contains a few central ideas he actually said – which of course are now taken out of context and promoted all over Facebook, and through email, as some sort of manifesto from Mr. Stein, and championed by all who agree with him.

I’m posting my thoughts first, which are followed by his commentary:

My rebuttal:

Oh, Ben, and all the others who tagged their ignorance onto his original thoughts.  First, equating Dr. Spock’s offering an alternative to violent discipline to why his son killed himself is a truly vile, libelous, statement, and your ‘letter’ can be disregarded solely on that basis.  Our children have no conscience because we don’t spank them anymore?  I was hit as a child – there was no Dr. Spock philosophy in my household – and I have plenty desire to do violence, especially to those who spout such stupidity.

Ben states: “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.”

Well, that’s a sentiment I can agree with, but here’s the thing Mr. Stein:  People who don’t believe in God, in whatever form you’d express that God, are the ones who have been seriously ‘pushed around’.  People have been force-fed Christianity for thousands of years in a ‘believe or die’ hate-fest.  I honestly don’t care whatever you believe until those beliefs come to bear on non-believers, and how they can live.  You’re sick of people being chided for trying to make others live by a set of commands that don’t pertain to them?  You want a theocracy, and that’s the mandate of religious people, but a theocracy would fundamentally, and I believe, detrimentally, change our Democratic Republic.  We’d be like Saudi Arabia, and all other countries who rule from the pulpit.  And those people are deeply corrupt, Mr. Stein, et al, because they are flawed human beings ruling over others with impunity.  Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

You don’t agree, and that’s fine, but when no one is offering an alternative to your opinion, it appears that most people agree with you, or are so cowed by your statements that they won’t give answer to them.  I’m simply trying to disavow you of that notion.

I don’t think we should ‘worship celebrities’, and who is not allowing you to worship God?!  You have any number of places and times to worship.  You can put down a prayer rug and pray on the sidewalk.  And there will be horrible people trying to stop you, but it won’t be atheists, or agnostics, it will be fundamentalist, hate-filled, people who try to prevent you.  It will be other religious fanatics trying to squash your ability to worship, and not non-believers!  Non-believers only care when you’re trying to ‘shove’ your religion and beliefs ‘down our throat’!  You can, in fact, pray in school – it’s just not a thing like having to recite the Pledge of Allegiance en masse.

Isn’t it nice to be wished a Happy Chanukah if you’re a practicing Jew, even if you’re glad to be wished Merry Christmas?  Just because someone is trying to be inclusive by saying ‘happy holidays’ should not make them a threat to your beliefs and celebrations.  I was a Christian for much of my life, and I’m fine with being wished a ‘Merry Christmas’ too, even though my beliefs no longer include the erroneous Christmas story.  I even wish others a ‘Merry Christmas’ on December 25th because it’s a cultural norm, and a way to honor those who celebrate that day as their decided upon ‘birth of a Savior’.

I like Menorahs, and the tale of Chanukah, and I like the story of Jesus, and the crèche/manger scene.  I like the lights, and decorating trees, and singing Christmas songs, because they’re pretty, regardless of my belief or non-belief.  Those traditions lift my spirits in a dark time of the year.

And then there’s the paragraph about Billy Graham’s daughter who said she thinks God has backed away from us because we asked Him too.  You can believe her, and live superstitiously all you want, but like having a black cat cross your path, and then tragedy happening, doesn’t make the cat responsible for your misfortune.  Hurricane Katrina wasn’t caused by God, and when you suggest that, you’re suggesting that we all be superstitious rather than rational, and that is a far deeper tragedy than not believing in God.

Another error Mr. Stein (or whoever altered his original thoughts) attempts is this:

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 a few years ago) 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 neighbour as yourself. And we said OK.

You are connecting heinous acts with the removal of state sanctioned prayer in school.  You can pray in school, you can bring your Bible to school; you cannot proselytize in school, however.  The Bible may say ‘thou shalt not kill’, and the other nine commandments, but you are assuming that humanity would have killed each other off were it not for those words sent down from a mountain top.  But, if you continue to read the Bible, people never stopped doing exactly what was ‘forbidden’ them.  Ever.  We kill, we fornicate, we lust, we have avarice, and pride.  It didn’t work.  The words fell on mostly deaf ears – and those were believers!  Those were people who heard Moses recite the tablet, who later read that book, who still promote the ideas of that book while molesting the children in their congregations.

It is unfettered greed that has led to the condition we find ourselves in.  We’ve never lost biblical and other religious works’ guidance, and still commit horrific crimes even when reading those words and trying to practice those precepts.  You’d claim that we are savages without religious guidance, but there are many examples of Peoples in the world who never heard of your god, or any god, who lived peacefully, who settled their differences, who made sure that their communities had enough.  It is disingenuous to claim that less religion is the reason for world turmoil.

No, Mr. Stein, I’m not laughing, but it is laughable that you continue to inject logical fallacies as fact.  You say: “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.”

What newspapers contain are usually knowable facts, Mr. Stein, et al.  God is not a knowable fact.  God is a presumption, and those who believe in God have to go on faith that what is said is true.  I like what’s knowable, and do have belief in unknowable/unverifiable things, but that is my personal prerogative, and I don’t try to make anyone else live by, or subscribe to, my quite possibly fantasy world.  Belief in ‘the Lord’ is a personal decision.  I don’t spread that around the internet or email because that’s proselytizing, and I prefer attraction to promotion.  For the record, I don’t like lewd, crude, vulgar, and obscene jokes or pictures, and my friends know that about me, and respectfully don’t send those kinds of things to me, and if I see it on Facebook, or elsewhere, I hide the page, or otherwise disengage from that kind of ‘humor’, and I’m still grateful that prayer is not mandated in school.  You are free to move to a repressive theocratic nation, Mr. Stein, et al.

I believe there is nobility in spiritual books.  My views diverge from those who follow such works literally.  My impetus is toward bringing more light into this world, not less, and perhaps that stems from my religious upbringing, but I think it’s mostly a result from being harmed throughout my childhood, and young adulthood.  I don’t want others to suffer like I did, so I treat others kindly, but I refuse to be ill-used anymore, or remain silent in the face of ignorance.

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, bejewelled 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 crib, 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 celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities 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.

Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her: “How could God let something like this happen?” (regarding Hurricane 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 a few years ago) 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 neighbour 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 okay.

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 yet?

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

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Author: Hermionejh

Laughter is my drug.

4 thoughts on “Battling Ben Stein”

  1. Yeah the bible does say though shall not kill, and then it goes on to say “well go kill those people. And those people. And those people” even God can’t follow his own commandments.

    I love the “Take the bible out of the schools and get school shootings” argument too. As of being a church leader and an several-times-a- week in church Christan stopped Dennis Raider (Also know as the BTK serial killer) from torturing, raping, and brutal killing 10 confirmed women (and maybe more). Look at any prison population and the majority of those in for violent crimes, including murder are Christians. The bible didn’t magically make them put down the gun.

    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting Sarah! I know that Ben Stein didn’t say all of that in his commentary, so I added the ‘et al’ to include those who tagged on their thoughts with his, and for those who think that Ben Stein’s comments have merit outside of any context not pertaining solely to himself. Season’s Greetings and Happy Holidays aren’t disrespectful salutations, but for those who might use it in a disparaging tone, I can see how religious folk could feel offended. Otherwise, your input illuminates the reality that just because you’re a follower or believer, doesn’t automatically make you morally superior, and often hides just the opposite, as we’ve seen with many Catholic priests who have abused children for years and been protected by the Vatican, as well as the example you provided (and I’m sure there are many others). 🙂 Jerri

  2. Right on girl. Its hard to imagine the mental processes of those who think we’ve kicked god to the curb and since his feelings were hurt he has turned his back on humanity. I have said for years and I still stand by my mental process that says, “Man created god in his image.”
    I wish you had a sharing button for facebook because I would like to share this on my page.Cheers to you and thanks for a well written response to Mr. Stein. :D)

    1. Oh, thank you Brenda! You can copy and paste the post link! 😉 Thank you if you do. 🙂 I appreciate your input, and hope you have a happy return of the light! Cheers. Jerri

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