Constructive Provoking?

President Ronald Reagan and his widow and former First Lady Nancy Reagan are familiar icons of American politics. What are some of the first things that come to mind when reflecting back on his presidency, administration, foreign policy, and his stance on social issues? Take a minute to remember some of the things he and Nancy were well-known to represent and implement.
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Reagan_familyPresident Reagan is noted for supply-side economics pushing a laissez-faire philosophy, freer-market or less-regulated market, and significant reductions in individual tax rates for Americans. He is also noted for escalating the Cold War with the Soviet Union driving their economy bankrupt by attrition. Another notable mark by Reagan’s presidency is his staunch fight and campaign to return vocalized prayers in public schools, later reduced to a “moment of silence” due to opposition by the Supreme Court and Congress. President Reagan is highly regarded in conservative Right politics and economics. This is also the family environment that sons Ron and Michael, and daughters Patti Davis, Maureen, and Christine Reagan grew up. Their father continues to be a favorite historical figure of American conservatism. But that’s the public image, the general image usually portrayed. Examining closely the Reagan family dynamics with his four children, things are anything but conservatively unanimous and smooth. For a brief family background of the Reagans by PBS.org, click here.
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Ron P. Reagan

In fascinating contrast to Reaganism, Ronald Prescott Reagan, son of the former President, joined forces with the Freedom From Religion Foundation in 2009. In May 2014 a controversial advertisement aired with Ron Reagan addressing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions to legally allow government bodies to impose Christian prayer onto everyone at the opening of public meetings as well as other such intrusions beyond and outside of church-related activities and business. Here is the advertisement…

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Constructive Change and How To Implement It

In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” The same man said, A people become great exactly in the degree in which they work for the welfare of others. Mahatma Gandhi was perhaps the most prolific philanthropist and social activist of the modern era. All of his remarkable social change, democratic human rights movement, and struggle for independence from the Great British Empire were made and staunchly taught non-violently. Never did he himself raise a hand nor take up arms against the powers-at-be to facilitate the necessary change. He did it even in the face of cruel demeaning rhetoric and/or physical beatings by opposition. He allowed the arrogant self-righteous to become monsters and eventually self-destruct. Gandhi was the epitomy of proper change and how to encourage it.

Though I am inline with much of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s mission statement and campaigns, here is my question and dilemma with Ron’s final statement. When an ideology is CLEARLY wrong politically based upon our U.S. Constitution — that is the deterioration of separation of Church and State as Ron properly explains — is prodding or provoking or inflammatory comments to your opponents the best method to induce change? And even though Ron’s patronizing of America’s religious isn’t physical violence, is it the BEST approach to initiate political and social change? Below I’d very much like to read your thoughts and comments about my question and Ron Reagan’s ad.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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21 thoughts on “Constructive Provoking?

  1. I’m split. It will work for some and not others. I needed the inflammatory words Dawkins wrote in ‘The God Delusion’ when I read it. Reading it now, it seems like a bit much. I think it takes all types of personalities and conversations to get people to think.

    It did seem like an odd sign-off for the ad. Perhaps they wanted to inflame tempers, drive people to the site, and encourage debate. That tends to get more attention, so perhaps more money? In the end, it depends on what kind of organization they want to be, and only they and their members can decide that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Madalyn, you remind me of a scene in one of my favorite movies.
      The building is a symbol, as is the act of destroying it. Symbols are given power by people. Alone a symbol is meaningless, but with enough people (provocative thinking?), blowing up a building can change the world.

      I understand the value of shock, and your right, sometimes it is perfect or the only catalyst for real change.

      Like

  2. I’m constantly astounded at how republicans hold this man in such high, almost saintly, esteem. He tripled the US debt. Tripled it!! He also began the gutting of the middle class, creating the conditions which saw the outsourcing of US manufacturing. He was a massively destructive force for your country, an abhorrent ruiner of what was great about America.

    Liked by 1 person

    • John,

      I am so glad you brought that up! I was hoping someone might mention the mid and long-term economic effects Reaganism caused Americans, middle-class & poor in particular! Thank you Sir. I am in complete agreement with you.

      His deregulation of the “freer-market” — with further help by George W. Bush — led to the 2007-08 recession allowing Wall Street WAY TOO MUCH “freedom” to invent outrageous investment-financing schemes! Reagan’s economic policies were practically a RETURN to 1870-1917 President Grover Cleveland’s unregulated Wild West Mega-business, called Industrialization in history books, by a handful of America’s titans: Cornelius Vanderbilt, John Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, and Henry Ford to name just five. Finally Teddy Roosevelt quickly realized that if you give greedy, power-hungry Alpha-male CEOs and corporations too much market freedom, every time they WILL turn the economy into a dog-eat-dog last-man-standing free-for-all buffet leaving corpses in their wake toward unfettered wealth! Those types know no limits. They MUST be regulated. On the other hand, Americans cannot have too much government — e.g. regulation of their personal bedrooms! — that intrudes on their rights for example to worship or not worship how they see fit at home or at designated places… which DOES NOT include public schools of free education or government meetings.

      This returns me to that Gandhi quote: “A people become great exactly in the degree in which they work for the welfare of others.

      In other words, it is VERY GOOD for business and the market if the wealthy & mega-wealthy business owners and corporations put back into the very system that feeds them! Oh, and by the way… that also happens to be good for the soul, their’s and others! 🙂

      Have you seen this highly acclaimed documentary? I recommend it!

      Utterly astounding and shameful how history constantly repeats itself. Ugh-grrrrrrr, ego-centric maniacs. :/ LOL

      Like

      • I’ve never quite understood the extremes proposed in the US system/s. Australia landed a quite rational, reasonable balance in its approach to social-capitalism, and politics is as such typically a race to own the middle. Our Liberals (the Aust. conservative party) are more left than your democrats… although PM Abott is today trying his best to prove that wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Btw, I added an addition to my previous comment reply. Sorry. 😉

          John, I didn’t realize you were an Aussie! Thank you again Sir for your visits and feedback. One can NEVER have a too wide global perspective can they!? Please continue to offer your knowledge, experience, and expertise! Many thanks!

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        • Oh my GOSH John! Did you know I played futebol (goalkeeper) in Rio!? A little with Sao Christopho and then Fluminense in Rio! 😀

          Now I am VERY JEALOUS of you & where you are! LOL 😉

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        • Sao Christopho & Fluminense was just for a brief couple of months in 1983 — I was 19 and eventually got home sick & Dad insisted I return to finish my bachelor’s degree. 😦 lol

          Yes, Sao Paulo. Spent some time there training with 2nd or 3rd division club… umm, Guarani FC? We took a team there to play and train in 1988 I think. 🙂

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        • Impressed I am! Brazilians, as you well know, do not take on foreigners to play football here. Seriously, what’s the point? They have an oversupply of talent, and that means you must have been very, very good to even get let on the pitch.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Bwahahaha! You are exactly right, EXCEPT when it came to goalkeepers (in the 80’s) — Brazilians want to score, move into attacking positions TO SCORE, and until recently considered the best defense was offense…oh, and scoring goals! Most Brazilians (back then at least) do NOT care to play goalkeeper, which is probably the only reason I was signed, aside from being pretty good for 19. 😉 LOL

          Liked by 1 person

        • By the way John, just weeks before Fluminense I had the unbelievable honor to not only train with a few Flamengo greats, but actually meet and watch the great Zico, Junior, and Socrates play after they returned from Spain ’82 WC. 😀

          Wanna touch my magical Brazilian-influenced greatness? 😉 lol *kidding*

          Liked by 1 person

        • As I’m sure you can probably attest, one of the GREATEST sporting experience a fan can enjoy is being amongst 50k, 60k, 80k (or in Maracanã Stadium 100k in the 80’s) Brazilian futebol fans dancing, singing, and cheering! Nothing like it in America. When the 1994 WC was in the U.S. I took my then girlfriend (big sports fan) to her FIRST ever soccer/futebol game when Brazil played Holland in Dallas, and we sat with the Brazilian fans of course! These were her words:

          “Out of all NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL games I’ve ever been to, NOTHING comes close to this! I am in awe, I am electrified, I can’t stop dancing & laughing!” 😛 lol

          Liked by 1 person

  3. This ad is annoying and I predict completely ineffective. Provocation is not the correct category, and what’s worse is it is devoid of any real argument. This guy comes out of nowhere and thinks he can just flash his surname and it make any difference? What next, are they going to hire Kim Kardashian? Michael Jordan?

    And, who are they targeting? If they are targeting apatheists to activism, then they just shot a pellet gun at a tank. If they are targeting a general audience, a generous slice of the population just got a mosquito bite. So, I’m wondering who are they targeting, themselves? 🙂 That’s the only answer that makes sense to me.

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    • Welcome back Brandon! And thanks for your feedback!

      I certainly hear & feel your annoyance. It’s the sort of reaction I felt Ron Reagan and FFRF would illicite from many/most religious conservatives in the U.S. and as much counter-productive as productive. I’d even go so far as to say, for a fast 1-2 minute very short clip, producers, actors, endorsers, etc, MUST make the most of their message to be effective & inspiring. This DID NOT accomplish that unfortunately!

      I can’t really argue your points Brandon; they’re valid. But valid ONLY if one views just this clip and does not visit, read, and digest the FFRF website for the FULL PICTURE, target audience, and bigger message. However, I do feel your defensiveness is justified Sir.

      With that admitted, your reaction sort of returns us to our previous discussions about earliest Christianity, N.T. Wright, Messianism, 1st century CE Roman Imperialism, the Synoptic Gospels, etc. How is that you ask? When you recommended I read and/or view N.T. Wright’s work on the resurrection and any other necessary works, my stomach churned. My following paragraph is NOT meant to get back into our previous discussions; I feel we both pleasantly concluded those discussions.

      However…

      As I explained in my thoughts there, when going to N.T. Wright I anticipated the usual narrow-lens & methodology that all Xian apologists use; that is… staying strictly within known bias Greco-Roman and Judeo-Roman scriptural supports, yet never venturing OUTSIDE of those sources to gain wider objectivity of the era. There are PLENTY of secular or non-Xian sources that paint a vastly different picture of Yeshua/Isa/Jesus, his truer background & heritage (more Arabian-Nazorean), and the context of his brother James, all within 1st century CE Jerusalem… than the Synoptic Gospels paint. Like your annoyance here with this ad, I have similar nausea when I must read, watch, examine, strictly fundamental Xian apologetics… BUT I MUST DO IT to be fair and civil. Therefore, if you didn’t go visit the FFRF website and read their About FFRF page, their Publications page, etc, giving them a fair chance while setting aside your annoyances like I try to do, then please do that. And then I would admonish you to always do the same with all other non-Xian points-of-view.

      And please allow me to tickle your patella-reflex for a brief moment. 😉 Because biblical Xianity is a strictly closed Canon — i.e. no additions or subtractions allowed since 325 CE with no indication that will change — today you and all Xians SHOULD be spending more time courteously listening, reading, examining, non-Xian scriptural and non-scriptural evidence and theories. If not, that’s perfectly fine too, but in doing that… realize productive, progressive dialogue goes nowhere. Everyone is talking, but no one is listening. That’s no fun and a waste of everybody’s valuable time. LOL

      Now, let me quickly jump out of the way of your knee-reflex so I don’t get kicked in the crotch!!! 😛 *kidding*

      Like

      • Professor, thanks for your response. I should have said before that I think your post was insightful, and also agree with your response. 🙂 I have visited FFRF’s website, and I do agree with some of what they stand for. I would be happy to remove prayer from government-sponsored events. But, FFRF is not just about complete secularization, it is downright anti-religious, and this is not surprising seeing that Dan Barker is at the helm. In some ways that is unfortunate because there is a cohort that share political views who may be turned off by anti-religious rhetoric.

        I understand your reaction to Christian apologetics, and sometimes they give me the same kind of reaction. I am thinking about guys like Todd Friel, some of William Lane Craig, Young Earth creationists, presuppositionalists, stubborn Calvinists. 🙂 But, I am surprised to hear you think that NT Wright does not consider extracanonical references to Jesus and Christianity. NT Wright is a well-respected first century historian who knows every single source from that time period (he says he can read them in two weeks because there are so few) and reads ancient Hebrew and Greek, and I am willing to bet to some extent ancient Aramaic. He is most definitely aware of all extracanonical references to Jesus and Christianity. And, there are other less sophisticated apologists who are similarly aware, like Mike Licona and William Lane Craig.

        But your overarching point I totally agree with. Christians need to expose themselves to all sorts of non-Christian literature. Historical documents of all sorts, Koran, Marx, Book of Mormon, Freud, Darwin, Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, David Hume, ancient mythology, all sorts of science, sociology, political science, economics, feminism, postmodernism, Buddhism, Hinduism, naturalism, anthropology, evolutionary psychology, existentialism, conservatism, liberalism, cosmology, particle physics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of religion, etc. As for theories about how Christianity began: Gerd Ludemann, Bart Ehrman, Richard Carrier, and heaven forbid Dan Barker 🙂 Theories about religion from anthropology, evolutionary psychology, and Critical Theorists like Marx and Freud. They should also read the Humanist Manifesto I. The so called “neoatheists” are worth passing for just about anything else listed here.

        Like

        • Brandon,

          Your reply thrilled me! Please do not ever lose that desire to be fair toward all (reasonable, plausible) non-Xian scholars and sources! As I’m sure you know, just because you spend a significant amount of time — and believe me, I know one can EASILY spend YEARS in their extensive detailed material! 😛 — doesn’t mean one is leaving your faith or becoming a traitor. LOL Suspending prejudices and emotion IS completely possible and recommended during such controversial discussions. Everyone should maintain appropriate levels of dignity, right? Which brings us back to this post and our thoughts about it, specifically Ron Reagan’s final statement.

          I do not feel his in your face patronizing was necessary and hence diminished (greatly?) his & FFRF’s objective, while also giving Xian’s more brick & mortar to strengthen their defenses making civil dialogue harder. Not good. 😦

          Liked by 1 person

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