|Lavacourt Sous la Neige|
No, not really, but sort of. To answer the first three questions. Probably, to answer the fourth.
I've been seeing these two particular topics pop up quite a bit lately in those blogs lined up over there along the starboard rail. What strikes me about nearly all of them is that both topics are intensely personal things. We all believe something (in both of those spheres) and, for the most part, have strong beliefs about both.
While I'm thinking of it, the lead-in painting by Monet was posted because after searching for some relevant graphic to start the post off with, I got so effing angry that I needed something to calm me down. Monet does that. So that's why we have Monet.
Want to know what I mean? Go to Google Images and search on "politics and religion" (or "religion and politics" if you prefer). If you don't find something in the results that pisses you off, you're just not paying attention. Regardless of your own beliefs, something will set you off. Trust me.
So the post is not about Monet. Though I really like his work, I don't know enough about it to discuss it intelligently. While lack of knowledge doesn't dissuade some people from talking and arguing about a subject as if they were experts. I'm not. All I have regarding Monsieur Monet's work is my opinion. Which is that he was a brilliant artist. Many people share that opinion. Which brings me to my next point.
Many (if not most) people have opinions regarding politics and religion. A small minority of those people think it's their duty to ram their opinions down everyone else's throat. I am not one of those people.
I may think that someone else's belief system is a bunch of crap. They may think the same of my own beliefs. C'est la vie! I'm not going to try and convert somebody to my beliefs and I would hope they would do me the courtesy of not inflicting their beliefs on me.
So what about politics? I think the government's job is to protect the citizenry, maintain the roads/rails/airports and pretty much leave us alone to do the rest. For that I am willing to chip in a reasonable portion of my pay. Note that I said reasonable. And I do not believe for one moment that any government anywhere has a right to a portion of my wages. It's something I'm willing to tolerate because (a) performing those things required for the common good can get expensive and (b) it's part of that whole "consent of the governed" thing.
By government I mean local, state and federal.
Local government should provide a police force to protect us from criminals and a department of public works to maintain the roads (to include plowing the streets in winter and filling in potholes) and collect the trash.
State government should fill in the gaps between towns and cities. Think state police and state highways.
Government at the federal level should protect us, via the military, from foreign criminals (which can be states like Nazi Germany or non-state organizations like Al Qaeda) and keep the roads and such maintained for interstate commerce. Treaties with other nations and such have one and only one reason, as part and parcel of protecting the citizenry of these here United States. If it doesn't do that, why would we want to get involved?
Now I'm not for isolationism. That just means waiting until the problem shows up on our territory or just offshore. Any potential enemy has to believe, deep in their twisted, evil brains, that harming one American, harms all Americans. You do so at your peril.
Kill one of us and we will kill all of you. That's what I like to call the Old AF Sarge Doctrine. Mess with the United States and you will be sorry.
My bottom line belief is that politics is a necessary evil and that politics is a dirty business which attracts precisely the sort of person you don't want in politics, i.e., running the government. At any level! So yes, I am for term limits. I'm quite sure the Founding Fathers did not intend Congress to be a life long sinecure. Oh, and serve one term and get a retirement check for life? YHGTBSM! Get a real job.
What about religion? I have a certain set of beliefs which probably don't quite align with any standard doctrine. I am a Christian yet I do not believe that the Bible is the infallible word of God. Sorry but there are just too many logical inconsistencies and much that smacks of some priesthood trying to control the rabble. (Which isn't necessarily a bad thing mind you.)
The Good Lord gave us a brain and I do believe He expects us to use it. Not take someone else's word for it. Too many fanatics will listen to some idiot prophet and the next thing you know people are dying. People who probably just want to be left alone.
Too many people are far too willing to take someone else's word for it. The Crusades immediately spring to mind as something that was a bad idea. But all those well-armed medieval types had to do something to take their minds off exploiting the peasants and slaughtering each other, didn't they?
That's all I've got to say on those two topics. As always YMMV (your mileage may vary).