Here, I’ll Make it Easier for You

Above is a scene from the (great) movie Searching for Bobby Fischer, where the demanding chess tutor is teaching the chess prodigy wunderkind how to see the board. The actual, concrete position of the pieces keeps the boy from engaging his creative vision to see where they could be. He needs the pieces to be more abstract, more conceptual, so the teacher sweeps them off the board.

What got me thinking about this? In recent conflicts over religion, I get the feeling that one side is having a hard time seeing the board. So maybe we need to sweep some distracting terms away.

Certainly in the case of Kim Davis’ religious objections to gay marriage, and in a lot of other cases as well, the conventional wisdom seems to be that religious people need to get over their religion, suck it up and go with the flow. That would solve everything, if those religious nuts would stop being such crybabies about it. What’s the big deal, anyway?

This attitude is becoming more and more common because, nowadays, irreligious people have no understanding whatsoever of religious people. They think that religion is a hobby, like collecting commemorative spoons, that you can take or leave if you feel like it.

This is a blind spot that I think could be helped with a change in our terminology. Let’s banish the word “religion” from these discussions. Instead of saying “religious beliefs,” let’s just say call them “beliefs,” so that people who believe in Jesus and the Bible will be on the same footing as people who believe that incandescent light bulbs kill polar bears, and X and Y chromosomes are just suggestions.

Because people think that their deeply-held irreligious beliefs are cosmically important, but Christians should just toss aside their deeply-held religious beliefs like last year’s pants.

You may think it’s silly to fight for religion, but are you willing to fight for what you believe? A lot of people are. And they’re willing to take the fight all the way to the mat. That other people think what they believe is silly is immaterial. Belief is belief. If you can just disregard it, then it wasn’t really your belief to start with.

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