Valley Center, CA
June 6, 2023
Mostly cloudy
Mostly cloudy

Talking politics and religion at the dinner table

We all know how it used to be that polite society demanded that we avoid talking religion and politics outside of the proper forums for such things, such as a church or a political rally or convention. That’s where the idea comes from that you don’t discuss politics or religion at the dinner table.
Well, polite society has left the building and forgot to turn the light off when it closed the door. Politics has become the religion for the many. To an extent this is the germ of our national problems.
We discuss our new religion, politics, everywhere. That’s because there is no facet of our lives that is untouched by politics, or more to the point, no facet of our lives that politics leaves alone. As Leon Trotsky once said about war, “You may not be interested in politics but politics is interested in you.”
Want to watch a movie? Political question. Want to watch sports? Political question. Want to fix dinner? Political question (cultural appropriation.) Want to attend college? Political question. Take a shower? Political question. Drink a glass of water? Political question. Drive your car? Political question. Adopt a pet? Political question.
Recently I was speaking to a leader of a service club about the apparent decline of such organizations, which she linked to the decline of church going, or religion of any kind.
Service clubs are becoming so endangered that I feel I need to explain to a younger generation—who, to be perfectly honest, is probably not reading this column anyway—exactly what such a thing is. It is a club, like the Rotary, Optimist, Lions, Kiwanis, Elks, Jaycees, and others, who attend club meetings regularly, contribute money and volunteer together to help raise funds for noble endeavors, whether local or often international.
Whatever their activities, most young people don’t have time to join them. It’s just not their “thing.”
For most of the life of the republic service groups have exemplified all that is great and good about service to your community. The French political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville, during his noteworthy visit to the young United States nearly 200 years ago, observed that Americans were different from other nations because so much of their “associations” that were civil, social, professional and political. In the America of that day, and until fairly recently, if something needed to be done in a community, instead of running whining to the government, people of good will would roll up their sleeves and take care of it.
He wrote: “In the United States, as soon as several inhabitants have taken an opinion or an idea they wish to promote in society, they seek each other out and unite together once they have made contact. From that moment, they are no longer isolated but have become a power seen from afar whose activities serve as an example and whose words are heeded.”
The numbers of people attending church (synagogue, mosque, you name it) is declining. What do people do instead of worship God? They worship public figures or ideologies. Back in the days of Barack Obama, his acolytes such as Oprah, routinely referred to him as “The one.” Apparently he bought into the hype since during one speech he predicted that “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal …”
But the Republicans, not to be outdone, have also invested much messiah like- powers in their golden calf with the orange hair. The man who is never wrong.
Some environmentalists worship the idea of the global climate catastrophe that no legitimate climate scientists have predicted, especially not the world-ending event for which they pine like acolytes of a prophet gathered around him on a hilltop waiting for the end.
Republicans? HE will be reinstated as president in August, 2021. Sure, he will.
These are all mental gymnastics of people who have substituted politics for religion as a way to comfort them in a troubled time. As long as people worship charismatic leaders, as long as they cling to their beliefs with a speaking in tongues-like intensity; as long as they seek their soul-changing epiphanies at political rallies, they won’t seek them from a higher power.

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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