First: while browsing the web I found this great story about a Marine in Iraq, decorated for bravery in battle. He sounds almost a modern-day Sergeant York.
Second: in case anyone was worried, the crazy patient seems to have had enough conversational encounters with security (since despite him fighting with other patients, they are unable to do more than warn him to behave) that he hasn’t come around our office. The psychiatrist, however, is now accusing my resident of lying about their mutual interactions, and seems ready to file a report against her. Fortunately, the resident has the nursing manager to back up her account of the conversation where they were assured the patient was safe, so she’s going to file a harassment report against him.
And now, the philosophical entry for the day: The other day someone was remarking how upset they were when someone (not me, unfortunately) handed them a Gospel tract out of the blue. The comment was made, “Religion and politics are private, and should not be discussed in general conversation,” and everyone but me agreed.
I won’t address the politics part much. If the theory behind our form of government is that all citizens have a say in how things are run, it seems to me reasonable to hold friendly discussions with other citizens about how the government is going, just as it would be considered reasonable for two stockholders in a company to discuss its progress. Assuming, of course, that the conversation will be polite. Personally, most of the people I’ve met who don’t want to discuss politics say that because they either don’t much care how the country goes, or they don’t have a rationale for their position. That doesn’t make it rude for someone else to offer to discuss it.
As for religion: The idea that religion is a private affair is humanistic and postmodern, based on the assumption that either there is no supernatural reality, or that there is no absolute truth about the supernatural. In either case, there’s no need to talk about it, because what one believes about religion doesn’t matter in the end. This statement also assumes that one’s religious beliefs make no difference outside of private life, which is another humanistic lie. If I believe that I am accountable to God for my actions, this gives me a very strong motivation to avoid lying, stealing, cheating, murdering, or more “minor” forms of bad behavior. I would think that would be relevant to my patients and colleagues.
Then there is the aspect of religion which people really don’t want to talk about: life (and punishment) after death. This is the ultimate faux-pas – to suggest that the decent, civilized person you’re talking to is actually in danger of eternal hellfire. What an insult. One might as well be insulted at the suggestion that one has an aggressive but curable cancer. If my statement about hell is true, my desire to discuss it is even more important and praiseworthy than my desire to treat a cancer.
So we’re down to the real reason why people don’t want to discuss religion: It’s as bad as saying the emperor has no clothes, because the fact of man’s sinfulness is undeniable, and rebellious men don’t want to acknowledge the consequences.
This is one area where Islamic society is more honest than post-modern Western society: They openly acknowledge the centrality of religious belief to all aspects of life. There, it’s not considered strange to discuss one’s belief in God and the holy books. This is why, when post-modernism/humanism in Europe and the US have finished decaying from the inside, Islam and Christianity will meet head-on. Denying the existence of absolute truth is moronic; the ultimate conflict is between two conflicting truth-claims.
Someone asked me the other day if I’m a Mormon. I clearly am not yet doing a good job of communicating. I know I look different from everyone else, and I keep assuming the reason will be obvious. Very disappointed with myself. . .