Role models

How do you lead by example? And who should the religious really be trying to convert? Members of Table Talk, Salon's reader community, share their thoughts this week.

By Salon Staff
Published January 5, 2007 10:40AM (EST)

White House

ODL: The First Lady of War, The Rag Trade's Nightmare

borregopass - 02:24 pm Pacific Time -- Jan 3, 2007 -- #6813 of 6838

I'm watching the burial. And this got me thinking about First Ladies and about presidents' children. I'm old enough to have memories of the families since Kennedy. Whatever I felt for the President, the children were always a different story. It wasn't always affection or respect. I had little in common with the Johnson girls, and actually thought the Reagan children were having as hard a time as I was becoming adult (which didn't lend itself to either affection or respect). I can honestly say that it is only with Bush 1 and 2 that I have little or no respect, no sympathy, no affection and little recognition with the children. And that is because of the mothers.

Let's face it. Politicians' children are not raised by the politician. While the Bush children are burdened by their genes, their lack of respect, decorum, morals and empathy can be directly attributed to the woman who raised them.

This was brought home to me watching video of Michael Ford greeting and thanking people who had come to pay their respects to his father. I have seen pictures or video of all the Ford children doing this over the last days. Can anyone imagine George or Neil or Jeb or any of George Herbert's children doing it? As for Jenna and Barbara I think it will be hard enough to get them to dress properly much less behave decently at the services.

It is truly sad that these distinctly ill-mannered and disrespectful people have a place in our history. I am embarrassed that their parents are part of our legacy and through them we have contact with offspring that are so badly raised they truly embody the term classless.

I send my sympathies to the Ford children. You have reminded me how we are supposed to behave in grief. Even in your sorrow you do your father, and particularly your mother, proud. I have always admired your mother, now I admire you as well.

Mind and Spirit

Atheists And Agnostics Only

Verbal Remedy -- 04:05 pm Pacific Time -- Dec 31, 2006 -- #946 of 1331

I take religion very seriously -- as the most pervasive, insidious, odious threat to the continued existence of civilization.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know there are a small handful of highly educated, theologically sophisticated believers out there, quite different from the drooling stadiumsful of blank-eyed swaying teenagers singing love songs to a fairy tale old man who's gonna Rapture them all up to Heaven someday soon. Quite separate from the heavy-eyebrowed God's Wrath Is Just types who roam the rural backroads of this nation bashing gays in the name of all that's Godly and Right. Quite apart from Fred Phelps and the rest of the religious nutjobs who are just a couple of pitchforks short of a lynch mob.

But honestly? I Am Not Impressed by the "sophisticated believers." These "responsible religious" have utterly abdicated what seems to me a responsibility that is THEIRS and THEIRS ALONE -- to rein in the controlling, violent impulses of religion among their fellow "believers."

I find myself wishing the Sophisticated/Responsible Religious (of ALL religions, thankyouverymuch) would spend a lot more time cleaning up their own back yards and a lot less time getting bent out of shape that atheists and agnostics just don't understand how really different they are from all those thick-skulled, knuckle-dragging bucktoothed everyday believers who don't understand all the high-level theological nuts-n-bolts that make their chosen belief system so utterly inspiring and meaningful and BENIGN. (Yes, responsible Muslim scholars, I'm looking at YOU, too.)

Stop trying to convince nonbelievers how peaceful and loving and all-around-groovy your God is, and start trying to convince the terrifying hordes who actually believe -- they're the ones who give the Deity-of-the-Day a really bad name.

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