Archive for the 'Religion' Category

Murderous conscience.

Apr 23, 2012 in Abortion, Religion

In a Sullivan post describing the Vatican crackdown on nuns for getting a little too free in their manner and thinking, this stuck out:

In 2009, a woman arrived in the emergency room at St. Joseph’s hospital in Phoenix. She was twenty-seven years old, eleven weeks pregnant, and she was dying. Her heart was failing, and her doctors agreed that the only way to save her life was to end her pregnancy, and that her condition was too critical to move her to another, non-Catholic hospital. The member of the ethics committee who was on call was Sister Margaret McBride. She gave her approval, under the theory that termination of the pregnancy would be the result but not the purpose of the procedure. The woman, who had four small children, went home to them. When the Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix heard what happened, he excommunicated Sister Margaret on the spot. A Church that had been so protective of priests who deliberately hurt children—keeping them in its fold, sending them, as priests, to new assignments—couldn’t tolerate her. A spokesman for the diocese called her a party to “murder.”

The diocese would have murdered her before that baby was ever born and washed its hands under the pretense of caring about life.

I’m just not sure how anybody perceives the papacy and its entourage of freaks and monsters to be in any way functional, humane, or particularly holy. It’s just an anachronistic club of men strangely convinced they should hold the world in thrall of a wisdom they haven’t been perceived to hold since before the days their penchant for children-buggery came to light. Increasingly the church has cheapened itself with political zealotry, attaching itself most fervently to issues of sex and sexuality, allying itself with the warmongering, poor-hating, torture-loving Republican Party. Let’s not mention the bright little fat bishop who declared President Obama to be just like ol’ Hitler n’Stalin (who the Vatican got so up in arms about back in the day you could hear a pin drop on a Jewish skull).

It’s especially strange that the Catholic Church, supposedly the same 2000 year old church that directly sprang from Jesus and the disciples, has so fervently jumped on a historically recent bandwagon in American culture where people decided abortion was so bad they had to have a reason why and therefore declared every zygote a fully fledged human being with more rights than the mother herself. Especially since this has involved more of an alliance with Evangelical Protestants, not the American Catholic population. Again and again, the priesthood pursues its own interests and priorities, and expects the world to get in line.

Bless each day we resist.

-hw

Sweet mercy, already.

Mar 12, 2012 in Religion, teh gay

Sullivan charts the Catholic Church’s corruptive doubling down on the anti-gay:

The leaders of the current Catholic hierarchy are the Pharisees of our time. They are the people Jesus came to liberate us from. And he does. And he will.

Once again, Catholicism would greatly be improved by treating the papacy as some kind of entertaining kabuki theater. I can’t think of any organized body other than NAMBLA whose sexual philosophy should be entirely dismissed and disregarded as utterly without merit or grounds to speak.

-hw

Hate for breakfast.

Dec 15, 2011 in Clueless Conservatives, Islam, Religion, Stupidity

I was always a Home Depot guy anyway. But Lowe’s shying away from controversy is one thing. The people slithering out of their dank neocon caves to support Lowe’s are just straight up hating.

You’ll have to turn to Jon Stewart for the ultimate smackdown though.

-hw

Our post-Constitutional era.

Nov 30, 2011 in Abortion, Christian Right, Clueless Conservatives, Constitution, Disappointing Dems, Politics, Religion, Sophistry, Straight-up madness, teh gay, Torture, War on Terra, Where's the outrage?!?!

This is becoming inevitable, as the Republican Party, while ever ready to say the word, “Constitution,” is a complete and udder fraud on the subject, and has categorically dismissed most of the Amendments and the underlying philosophy behind the Constitution’s writing.

Now, I know it is required that I disclose the presence of a certain contingent of chickenshit Democrats who regularly cave whenever Republicans get hot and bothered, but they’re never the driving force, and they’re a minority within the Democrat Party, so there. It’s the wholly unbridled unified army of the Republican Order that drives an agenda that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, except as their protections pertain to white Christian heterosexual males.

1. They’re actively pro-torture, even though they square that by declaring any form of torture they like to not be torture. Simple, right? Not only is the Constitution unambiguously against cruel or unusual punishment, i.e. torture, but the entire history of the country at war has hewn to the same principles. Ronald Reagan was explicit in his condemnation of torture. The Republican Party today is best represented by Rick Santorum telling John McCain that he doesn’t understand torture.

2. They’re consistently against or dismissive of the religious freedom of gays, gay-supporting straights, Wiccans, atheists, Muslims. That the First Amendment ever be read in context with a world of varying beliefs is verboten. It’s about the Christian right to inject Christianity into anything they do, even and especially as a public employee. But when it comes to gays, the Christian right directly posits its beliefs as important enough to cancel out those of gays and to directly affect how gays live their lives by forbidding them marriage. The thought that Jesus might look kindly upon a loving gay couple cannot be entertained.

3. Search and seizure, forget it! Everything is open, up for grabs, ready to be peeped upon by Uncle Sam whenever he wants. The Drug War paved the way, the War on Terror planted the settlement and opened shop. Merely being suspected of having drugs can result in asset forfeiture, meaning your property rights are violated without due process, the police department acting as judge and jury. The burden of proof is often reversed onto suspects in such cases, and property is rarely returned regardless of charges.

Every phone and internet conversation has been opened up, and siphons through the NSA’s data miners.

Binney, for his part, believes that the agency now stores copies of all e-mails transmitted in America, in case the government wants to retrieve the details later. In the past few years, the N.S.A. has built enormous electronic-storage facilities in Texas and Utah. Binney says that an N.S.A. e-mail database can be searched with “dictionary selection,” in the manner of Google. After 9/11, he says, “General Hayden reassured everyone that the N.S.A. didn’t put out dragnets, and that was true. It had no need—it was getting every fish in the sea.”
Binney considers himself a conservative, and, as an opponent of big government, he worries that the N.S.A.’s data-mining program is so extensive that it could help “create an Orwellian state.” Whereas wiretap surveillance requires trained human operators, data mining is automated, meaning that the entire country can be watched. Conceivably, U.S. officials could “monitor the Tea Party, or reporters, whatever group or organization you want to target,” he says. “It’s exactly what the Founding Fathers never wanted.”

Power creeps, as the Founders realized, and always, always had to be balanced.

4. While ever ready to claim that rights not spelled out in the Constitution aren’t really rights, directly contradicting the Ninth Amendment, the Republican Party has declared that money equals speech. Why then should I be punished for bribing a police officer or judge? I’m merely talking to the them.

No, anybody knows exactly what money in politics means, it means buying politicians, period. Money buys politicians, it buys media outlets, it pays people to spout theories that testify to the greatness of the wealthy, and it’s all done for the sake of ever more money. As Danny DeVito said in The Heist, “That’s why they call it money.” It’s not the same as speaking your mind, it’s engaging in a transaction. There’s a reason “money talks” is a cliche. With money, speech isn’t so important anymore. It becomes the pretty envelope on a fat wad of cash.

5. Nor does it say anywhere in the Constitution that corporations constitute distinct immortal citizens with full rights. The very construction of a corporation is a legal designation, a product of government legislation. Who ever talks about it in those terms? Certainly not Republicans. Apparently God made corporations?

Ruling in Citizens United that not only could these corporations donate unlimited funds to candidates, but do so anonymously? Does anybody on this planet think the politicians don’t know exactly who donated? It merely creates a gigantic firewall against the public, keeping them out of the process, refusing to tell them who’s bought their supposed representative.

Jesus declared that the rich would not easily find their way into Heaven. He said no such thing about those with lots of opinions. Yet a party built on Judeo-Christian superiority delivers the sentiment, “money equals speech,” to us with deeply sincere faces, even strident faces. Add to that, “a corporation is a person,” whereas one soulless legal entity is equated to a human being, and the conundrum deepens. How do these people maintain such cognitive dissonance? With great strain.

6. Indefinite detention. Like torture, it is the complete and utter opposite of each and every plank, nail, and window in the Constitution’s house. It is the Gulag. It is the dungeon. It is the concentration camp. And now one of the two major parties has not merely let it fly under their radar, but made it their agenda. Take a few Dem politican scalps if you will, but only lefties and a few libertarians (where are you guys when we need you?) are going to bring this fight at all. Lesson from 2010: Letting more Republicans get into office is not a solution.

7. General Welfare: Abolishing the EPA? YHGTBFKM (You have got to be fucking kidding me). The Koch brothers need to dump more poison in our groundwater, Michele, won’t you help them?

The entire concept of the general welfare of the country has completely evacuated the Republican Party. In their eyes, fuck the general welfare. People get what they deserve, and if your life sucks, blame yourself. Of course, if everybody did a lot more looking in the mirror at themselves, we wouldn’t have many Republicans left. Instead, they survey only the oily shell of the individual, and perceive nothing of the complex lattice-work of society that supports their existence.

If you don’t fund schools, you end up living in a world of noisy uneducated people giving you rotten service, and you can only keep moving to new suburbs so long. If you don’t fund police departments, you end up with high crime rates and decreased property values. If you fund prisons while not funding rehab clinics, your Drug War will result in financial incentives that outweigh regular crime prevention. A Drug War waged primarily on minorities will turn jail into a martyrdom ritual, and your children will revere felons as heroes.

President Obama turned the health care system into a universal program, for which he is reviled by the right (not to ignore the political convenience…had there perhaps been a President Romney in 2008, his Massachusetts plan would be considered to be a rightful and just conservative blueprint to accomplish the goals of liberals through free-market means). The rather explicit permission of the Commerce Clause gives the government more than fair leeway to point out that uninsured people merely transfer the cost of their care to others. A mandate is really little more than a distribution of that cost among all citizens. You might not like it, but who’s going to be there for you if you have a stroke in twenty minutes and spend your remaining decades fully paralyzed?

8. Abortion. The government should enter the womb and put up a sign telling the mother to keep providing the nutrients but she’s not in charge anymore? That assertion of domain over the entirety of her body and its natural processes isn’t listed in the Constitution as a specific right, thus it does not exist?

As I mentioned, this is in direct violation of the Ninth Amendment, which explicitly states that the enumeration of certain rights is not meant to disparage the others. The Constitution is not a finite list of rights, and it says so clearly! And it certainly grants the government no power over a woman’s reproductive process. Anti-abortion sentiments were rare at the time of the writing of the Constitution, unfit for a special extension of government powers. And yet as the subject has become a crusade for religious fundamentalists, attempts to justify its Constitutionality have naturally occurred. Their crowing is as predictable as a rooster.

______

Republicans have in many cases not merely gone passive about certain rights, they’ve turned outright aggressive against them. Such a republic facing this prospect would rightly be deemed to be in or near its death throes, about to face a civil war. No matter how casually Republicans treat the Constitution, they’re emphatic about it, often moreso than Democrats. And that should just never be the case, because the only people I see left standing up for the Constitution anymore are left. And if libertarians were to be believed for half the things they say about liberty, there wouldn’t be Republican majorities anywhere.

-hw

Scientific spiritualism as an animating force.

Oct 08, 2010 in Religion

I try not to rub my deeper thoughts in people’s faces, but this guy was talking some serious shit before this exchange:

Very Unpleasant Rightwinger: we are a clump of dna yet we have value. how is that?

ME: Who told you DNA was valueless? Without DNA, there’d be no Bible, no Jesus, and no myopic little assovertincups to cheerlead his rightwing buddies.

You aren’t really talking about value, you’re using the value each of us understands to be inherent in human life as a bargaining chip to establish your version of God. The classic line of reasoning goes something like this: Ah, look at the lovely children. You value them! But you think they are DNA, water and chemicals, thus you do not value them! I think they’re made of God’s tears, so I value them!

Well, what the hell makes God’s progeny so special…if they aren’t special? The rocks and trees and microbes are God’s progeny too, no?

Do you have any idea what matter really is? Do you realize you are mostly empty space? Do you realize that your sense of the physical is nothing more than a series of emergent patterns, fractally repeating? Relationships between particles that we still don’t understand, in a medium we still don’t understand. Values, compounding upon values. Truths, echoing through nature and manifesting in our brains, elegant patterns that we can only feel humble amidst.

The problem is most people are too scientifically illiterate to really get beyond their monkey-brained ways of seeing the world, and that you need stories about God and souls to put your true worth in understandable terms. They’re very true in a sense, just not literally in the way you see them.

Yet none of this fits in your little “GODLESS LIBRULS KILLING BABIES!” box. The truth is, you don’t value life much at all and will gladly condemn others to death to square your vision with the world. You guys sit in here and spend every day slagging on those who work to do good for the poor, and who try to use the instrument of government, democratically controlled, to help the less fortunate. You call them every name in the book, and then act self-righteous because you like to tell women what to do with their bodies. Yes, sometimes liberals can be guilty of doing arithmetic with human lives, but I’ve yet to see a one of you live above that standard. Even (you) will gladly let doctors and firemen stand by while innocents die, just to teach others a lesson about “responsibility.” The right-o-sphere concurs.

Okay, I was somewhat angry. This guy was a grade-A bonehead. The nicer way of putting things is that I can actually sit down in a church nowadays and mostly concentrate on what I have in common with the people around me, because really, my life has been about trying to find that glory in our lives, but my way. And I’ve come to the same conclusions that many religious people have come to: Literalism and fundamentalism aren’t fruitful to deep thought or even good conduct. They obscure man’s greater faculties and describe them as dangerous. Heretical accusations soon follow. Pious people should be treated with suspicion. Quiet ways can often teach best (though I only know how to practice this in life, not necessarily in blogging).

Just don’t tell me that I don’t value life, especially when I’m the guy heartsick that a generation is becoming terminally unemployable and I’m trying to urge my president to rise to the occasion. I’m trying to urge my nation to rise to the occasion, and to be the great people we are capable of being. When America is at its best, none of the others can compare. When America has come together to solve our collective problems, we’ve done great deeds and saved countless millions from poverty and death. This truly is one of those times again, and the government needs to intervene to create demand where the private market isn’t picking up the slack. It’s not only practical, but it’s deeply good. Telling me a good deed isn’t a good deed just because the government did it doesn’t wash. After all, who elects the government? To the extent that we can sway it towards beneficial actions, it must necessarily possess the same positive value. If government assistance helps a child, that is a pure good, undiluted. It matters not who feeds that child.

It’s much the same with the question of our value. It matters not to our worth because there may or may not be a sentient Deity out there. I am sentient. As awesome as I am, um, I know there are many others even more awesome. The awesomeness quotient of humanity is something any God should be respectful of. After all, how could God be a dullard and a moron to not be impressed by Shakespeare? A billion love poems scribbled in notebooks? The intricacy of the human voice? An amazing experiment in space-time properties that kept combining until intelligence arose. It is simply more than one person can fully absorb.

How do we not regard it as possible that this process is actually a form of intelligence itself? It is in many remarkable ways an ultimately rational universe. There is no action without an equal and opposite reaction. Apply a rough approximation of that to human nature and you can see the connections that bind our deepest personal metaphors to the primal forces of Nature itself.

Yes, I can get ornery but…

Sometimes, I must be a rock.

-hw

Bishop Long: Blatant hypocrisy or a classic case of liberal class politics?

Sep 27, 2010 in Religion

Gleaned from a post by Balloon Juice writer mistermix:

Bishop Long cuts a flashy figure in Lithonia, the Atlanta suburb where he lives and has built his church. He is often seen in a Bentley attended by bodyguards. He tends to wear clothes that show off his muscular physique. He favors Gucci sunglasses, gold necklaces, diamond bracelets and Rolex watches. He lives in a 5,000-square-foot house with five bedrooms, which he bought for $1.1 million in 2005.[...]

In 2005, for instance, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published tax records showing that from 1997 to 2000 Bishop Long had accepted $3 million in salary, housing, a car and other perks from a charity he controlled.

The author goes on to comment about the lack of political interest in taxing the non-charitable activities of high-rolling mega-churches but I think the real question we should be asking here is whether or not Eddie Long is truly rich. A Bentley, Gucci sunglasses and diamond bracelets may sound like they cost a lot of money but when you take into consideration his lack of a private jet it makes me wonder if we’re all just envious of his success.

-mg

Persecuted Christians.

Sep 10, 2010 in Religion

Atheist group puts up sign letting non-believers know they’re not alone, Baptist minister says, “It’s kind of like they’re poking a finger in your eye.”

I guess it just feels good to think you’re being attacked. Of course, if an atheist said the same about a sign telling Christians they weren’t alone, the same guy would say he was, again, being attacked.

-hw

Tribalism, still a forefront issue.

Aug 25, 2010 in Islam, Religion

That’s what the enmity towards Muslims in America today is. Tribalism. You have an Us, and a Them, and the rest is literally human history.

Except for the part where America was founded in the vision of radical Enlightenment thinkers who challenged all previous dogmas and created a new one with the highest democratic ideals. First and foremost was the ordainment of a country with freedom of speech, and thereby the freedom of religion. Any person who was born in this country or sworn in as a citizen is presumed to be an equal entity of whom innocence is first presumed.

This entire argument is an insult to all Muslim Americans, of course, but it should be an outrage to any U.S. citizen concerned about our Constitutional rights. I’ve been to too many of Ali’s huge family get-togethers, and seriously, those folks are about the good life like anybody else. Kindness and humility are the order of things. Whites, blacks and Hispanics also attend. In all the years, I’ve had one civil friendly conversation on the importance of modernizing Islam. And this was the perspective of the Muslim gentlemen whom I was mostly listening to. The rest of the time it’s, “How are you? How are your kids? What have you been doing that is fun? How’s the weather?” It’s plain bread, baby.

That’s how I see the Muslim center in NYC. It’s vanilla ice cream to me.

Don’t get me wrong. Like most organized religions, I find the fundamentalist version to be fundamentally incredulous and problematic. Yet I choose to back the Modern Muslims, who represent most of the Muslim population in America today. They’re your neighbors and co-workers, folks. You should be so lucky to know many of them.

If one pits themselves against Islam, then one will find a bundled stick. This isn’t really rocket science. If our country chooses to target individuals based on evidence of guilt, then we can break one branch at a time.

And the other branches will, in Ent-like manner, help us.

We simply must elevate our way of thinking, and understand what really is right here, and what is wrong. We must be better than our enemies. We must not seek to punish and castigate the innocent for simply being different, and there’s no cause more American than that.

-hw

Rise, my son…to a higher level of consciousness.

Apr 09, 2010 in Religion

Self-reflection is quite in vogue among Catholics lately, what with the recent revelations that the church has been an international child rape ring obsessed with covering up the crimes of priests rather than atoning for them. So perhaps Catholics partaking in transcendental meditation will catch on a bit more.

In college a professor of mine who seemed to be a knowing atheist in every way told me privately that he was actually a Catholic. What could have been the rationale behind that, I asked? He said he had attended Mass, and nowhere else had he felt the touch of divinity so profoundly. Since then I’ve been to Mass a few times, and I’ve been able to place myself in that professor’s shoes and understand how the rite could have evoked such a sense. In a way without being the same, Mass is meditative and somewhat transcendental. That Catholics could find appeal in transcendental meditation (which isn’t actually religious or in conflict with any kind of doctrine) isn’t surprising. If one presumes much of what Christianity says to be true, or just its core tenets, the value of going within to find divinity should not be questioned. Long sessions of prayer undoubtedly strive for the same state of being, but perhaps the emptiness of meditation allows one to access what is truly there vs. heading towards such a state with an agenda…

Anyhow, some contemplation and self-reflection would do many in our country a deal of good in these somewhat loosely hinged days…

-hw

Scientology sinking?

Mar 07, 2010 in Religion, Sophistry

This good NYT piece on Scientology, a cult of shysters that openly fleeces its members for everything they have, reveals that the membership in the US has dropped by fifty percent since 2001, down from 55,000 to 25,000.

And hey, it’s America…you can get 25,000 people to believe anything. Proof? Scientology has 25,000 members! These guys make Mormons look normal. Their “religion” was concocted by a bad science fiction author (Hubbard’s Wikipedia page has a lot on his shocking criminality) who started it bragging to other sci-fi authors that it was a get-rich-quick scheme, their mythology sounds like bad science fiction, and being a member is like going to a college where the tuition is however much you got, except at the end instead of a certificate in honor of your intelligence and hard work, you receive a head full of patently absurd shite. Oh, plus there’s no end! You just keep paying.

Sadly, they’re even worse than that. The article, which focuses on defectors, gives us another look at the controlling tactics, beatings, and shunnings that are part of life for Scientologists. Not to mention the pressure placed on some members to have abortions…

Scientology seems to have some basic self-help foundation that incorporates a lot of strategies for successful living, much like what you’d get from a Tony Robbins book (or thousands of other books clogging the bookstore). Some of the defectors profiled have actually continued some of the practices of the church independently.

Of course, when asked for comment, the Scientologist asshole crooks themselves say that you can’t be a Scientologist if you don’t belong to the church, because obviously they aren’t getting your money if you’re out there on your own. Virtually every quote from the Scientology reps sounds like Newspeak, Rovian-style big lies that are too absurd to be believed…except by 25,000 people.

-hw

Zing!

Nov 29, 2009 in Christian Right, Religion

Sullivan gives the pious both barrels:

It’s staggering really that modern American Christianism supports wealth while Jesus demanded total poverty, fetishizes family while Jesus left his and urged his followers to abandon wives, husbands and children, champions politics while Jesus said his kingdom was emphatically not of this world, defends religious war where Jesus sought always peace, and backs torture, which is what the Romans did to Jesus.

And obsesses over abortion, which is hardly mentioned at all in the Bible and requires creative and selective interpretation to conjure a moral opinion on the subject. And opposes taxing the rich to heal the poor.

Look, the New Testament wouldn’t have made it far if we didn’t have Paul to gloss over the Gospels and bring things back around to Old Testament style shepherding of unwieldy and sinful humans. Jesus survives as the model of a very nice person, but he was quickly morphed into a carrot to keep people out of Hell. Now Americans have turned Christ into an ATM and mega-churches kindly keep their flock poor and devotional, relieving them of their corruptive moneys.

It’s important to note that Andrew refers to “Christianism,” the conflation of rightwing politics with Jesus’ completely unrelated teachings, which gets practiced at least more loudly than Christianity in our society. But it’s defined itself as the real face of Christianity, wrapped in the American flag. It’s easy not to belong, but less easy to be heard. Many simply eschew any label at all, keeping their prayers private and their deeds under the radar. Some people embody the conflict, possessing both the virtues and the vices of Christianity, pious at times and deeply principled at others. Yet our balance is precarious, and wisdom is scattering thin and far.

On that note, let the War on Christmas begin!

-jb

Marijuana in the Bible?

May 21, 2009 in Religion

A man who used marijuana to combat back pain and Asperger’s Syndrome was banished from several Christian churches.

Why?

I can’t find any references in the Bible to marijuana, hemp, or even smoking. This website attempts to offer a reason, except everything in the Bible talks about alcohol. The site’s loophole is that marijuana “intoxicates” in low doses, and several Bible passages praise the virtues of a clear mind for resisting Satan.

Mmmm, okay, but how many churches banish people for having a couple beers? Besides, alcohol lowers inhibition and makes you more likely to commit much bigger sins than those of marijuana, which pretty much end at sloth and gluttony, while encouraging spirituality in some.

The reality is that these churches are slapping God-talk on their cultural taboos, engaging in piety and pomp rather than meaningful religious thought.

-jb

More right wing victimology. Chritianist Edition.

Apr 18, 2009 in Christian Right, Religion

I was reading Red State and came across a terrific example of how even the most innocuous events can be construed as an “attack” to those looking to portray themselves as an embattled victim. For effect I’m going to quote the post in reverse order by putting the Obama quote first and the commentary second to hightlight the author’s interpretation. The title of the post is “Barack Obama, the Anti-Christian President.”

“Whatever we once were, we’re no longer just a Christian Nation; we are also Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu Nation, and a nation of non-believers.” Barack Obama in an email to CBN News, June 2007

Barack Obama declares the end of Judeo-Christian influence in the United States:

To writer mailloux, mentioning Judaism and Islam as having important roles alongside Christianity is interpreted as declaring the “end of Judeo-Christian influence”. Whether it is either a willful or unintentional misreading of a straight-forward commentary on the uncontroversial religious diversity of the United States, it assumes that President Obama has special authority in matters of religious influence. Just like the right-wings simplistic definition of what makes the media liberal (if you’re not actively promoting the Republican agenda then you’re liberal), it is assumed that since Obama isn’t actively advocating Christianity as the state religion he must be anti-Christian.

“Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart. It got hijacked. Part of it’s because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, who’ve been all too eager to exploit what divides us.”

Barack Obama identifies the Christian right as THE problem:

“The so-called leaders” that are “eager to exploit what divides us” are now associated with the entire Christian Right itself. The wording and the intended meaning of Obama’s statement couldn’t be easier to discern, even by those with a rudimentary knowledge of the language couldn’t interpret it otherwise. To derive an alternate and more sinister meaning one has to be either consciously doing so or genuinely convinced that President Obama is in fact lying about his faith and has an anti-Christian agenda.

The post culminates in this cut and pasted paragraph from CNS News; a right-wing outlet run by frequent FOX News commentator and liberal media conspiracy buff Brent Bozell.

“Georgetown University says it covered over the monogram “IHS”–symbolizing the name of Jesus Christ—because it was inscribed on a pediment on the stage where President Obama spoke at the university on Tuesday and the White House had asked Georgetown to cover up all signs and symbols there . . . On Wednesday, CNSNews.com inspected the pediment embedded in the wall at the back of the stage in Gaston Hall, where Obama delivered his speech. The letters “IHS” were not to be found. They appeared to be shrouded with a triangle of black-painted plywood.”

If and only if it can gain him votes during an election does Obama condescend to any association with Christ. Otherwise, make way for the real messiah (aka “The One”). Case in point? Obama speaks at Georgetown University (a Catholic School) and specifically requests that the monogram “IHS” (i.e. Jesus) be covered up so as not to appear over him while he’s delivering his gospel.

In what was most certainly a gesture to ensure that it didn’t look like government was promoting one religion over another or simply preparing a backdrop consistent with other policy speeches the president has made, the president chose to make his address sans the IHS above his head.

Despite statements from the White House and Georgetown University that didn’t lend any credence to the CNS assumption that the stage considerations were an assault on Christians, Red State commenters have made up their minds to the contrary.

Some of my favorite comments can be found below the fold.
(more…)

It’s never fun to do the hard work.

Feb 24, 2009 in Religion, Science

A letter that should be cut-and-pasted every time a creationist/ID-theorist thinks scientists owe them debate time:

Instead of spending time on public debates, why aren’t members of your institute publishing their ideas in prominent peer-reviewed journals such as Science, Nature, or the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences? If you want to be taken seriously by scientists and scholars, this is where you need to publish. Academic publishing is an intellectual free market, where ideas that have credible empirical support are carefully and thoroughly explored. Nothing could possibly be more exciting and electrifying to biology than scientific disproof of evolutionary theory or scientific proof of the existence of a god. That would be Nobel Prize winning work, and it would be eagerly published by any of the prominent mainstream journals.

“Conspiracy” is the predictable response by Ben Stein and the frustrated creationists. But conspiracy theories are a joke, because science places a high premium on intellectual honesty and on new empirical studies that overturn previously established principles. Creationism doesn’t live up to these standards, so its proponents are relegated to the sidelines, publishing in books, blogs, websites, and obscure journals that don’t maintain scientific standards.

Finally, isn’t it sort of pathetic that your large, well-funded institute must scrape around, panhandling for a seminar invitation at a little university in northern New England? Practicing scientists receive frequent invitations to speak in science departments around the world, often on controversial and novel topics. If creationists actually published some legitimate science, they would receive such invitations as well.

So, I hope you understand why I am declining your offer. I will wait patiently to read about the work of creationists in the pages of Nature and Science. But until it appears there, it isn’t science and doesn’t merit an invitation.

It kind of makes me sad that there are people somehow constitutionally incapable of accepting what science discovers about the world and moving forward, but so it goes to demonstrate that we are hardly guaranteed understanding of who and what we are. Given the difficulty of the actual answer, it isn’t always easy to blame people for coming up with gods and devils, Heaven and Hades.

-jb

Darwin’s cat.

Feb 14, 2009 in Religion, Science

From alicublog:

Just so with Darwin. In their politically degenerate phase, conservatives can loosen up about him — there’s not much powder or provender there in the Age of Obama; no need to play dumb. When a stimulus moment arrives, they’ll have the option of putting the masks back on, and you’ll see Jonathan Wells and Ben Stein and all those guys riding on the top of the float again. It’s sort of like the routine done at Big Hollywood and in other such conservative movie games — denouncing film as a liberal plot at one end of the mood swing, declaring film a conservative phenomenon at the other — but played out much more slowly over a longer period of time, as befits the evolutionary model.

Right wingers don’t understand Darwin to begin with. Take for instance their frequent abuse of the phrase “survival of the fittest”. They use it as a metaphor for natural selection and only when they are looking to bully people with a bunch of “free market” rubbish or rationalize some preferred atrocity. Natural selection only occurs when the environment favors a coincidental genetic mutation. My favorite example is Felis silvestris lybica, the progenitor of the common house cat. When the earliest farmers of ancient history perfected the cultivation of crops and the storage of grains in the Fertile Crescent, mice, rats and other pests were attracted to these abundant sources of food and thus attracted wild desert cats which hunted them. That particular agrarian environment favored a domesticated cat because of the unique combination of ample rodentia and humans and over a long enough time period a genetic mutation occurred that produced a phenotype that was both happy to hunt mice and fall asleep on your lap. As an obvious consequence this breed of newly domesticated feline prospered and was widely put to use as an effective method of vermin control. Sea merchants recognized the benefits of the cat and they were soon a frequent companion on trade ships. From there, as they say, the rest is history. Right now as I type this there is a cat snoozing quietly to the left of my keyboard and like every other house cat in the world she is a direct descendant of some goofy desert kitty that just happened to enjoy the company of humans some ten thousand years ago.

So when the radical right wing speaks of “survival of the fittest” they’re actually espousing a form of crude eugenics. And regardless of what they might believe about the fastest among us passing along their superior traits in some genetic marathon the baton that they’re handing off is composed of the same shabby and imperfect DNA that made its first appearance on this rock some two hundred thousand years ago. There isn’t even any directional selection. Natural selection also approves of the slow, who do not charge into danger. How do we know? Because it only has one criteria: if it exists, natural selection has approved of it, for now.

The incompetence of the Washington Times Rev. Sun Myung Moon adherent and columnist that leads the alicu-post is another part and parcel of the GOP.

Actually, Darwinism has always been more philosophy than science.

There is no support, of course, except Jonathan Wells and his inability to understand Darwinism. Darwinism is the core of the biological sciences. I understand that people like Mr. Wells manage to acquire degrees in biology, somehow, but the body of science that has accumulated around Darwin’s initial hypothesis is more vast than most single minds can wrap themselves around. But lo and behold:

This assumption is still an assumption. No one has ever observed the origin of a new species by variation and selection – much less the origin of new organs and body plans.

Aha! As in, “If you’re a rube who doesn’t understand science at all, or feels hostile towards it, AHA I HOOKED YOU YOU SUCKER!” As in, have you ever seen a fish jump out of the water and grow legs? AHA YOU WILL NOW FIND ME CREDIBLE!

This is, of course, a moron’s test of what is “science.” No, while Mr. Wells may be doing his best imitation of a baboon, actual scientists are, every single day a)discovering new evidence that supports Darwin’s theory and b)using the theory of evolution in order to make new predictions that largely bear out. Given that anybody who understands the process takes eons (although Ray Kurzweil makes the case that evolution has sped up exponentially since it began) knows they will never see a significantly new species arise, the science proceeds along quite undisturbed.

Indeed, for your pleasure, observe the top ten signs of evolution in the human species.

Or merely consider that Darwin made his predictions before the discovery of DNA. Now we have a massive body of knowledge based around the study of DNA, we can see the commonalities between human and fruit fly, and we understand that all living species use the same essential framework.

Wells sniffs as he notes that most educated conservatives long ago put aside Scriptural Creationism. Ah, no, Mr. Wells, they just moved back the goal posts to where the science became difficult and uncomfortable again for the emotional soup-cans they call their brains.

Nature’s ways are subtle and yet tremendous. The shortness of human life is not a concern. If the entire human species were wiped out tomorrow, it would be no more than a hiccup in the lifespan of the universe. There is absolutely no guarantee that our brains are capable of getting around the riddles that led to them. Especially when people say shit like this:

Darwin lacked sufficient evidence for the latter, however, so he ruled out the former by simply declaring that only natural explanations are “scientific.”

Yes…when you say, “God did it!” and go home to pray instead of doing further research, that isn’t science. When you make predictions, and evidence confirms them, and you use that to make more predictions, and further evidence confirms them, and when this continues for a century or so, that is science. People like Mr. Wells will draw the line and say, “Well, yeah, but God did the rest.” Until “the rest” is restricted further.
Such are the ways of fools who place more stock in the writings of men than the observations of the actual universe “God” placed them in.

Naturally, not one stunning scientific insight occurs in the length of Mr. Wells’ article. Instead, he just wants language welfare, where his whining can be classified as “scientific” and where people who spit out their drinks and laugh at his idiotic suggestions are hampering his “academic freedom.”

So with that, I declare 2+2=5, deplore those who only consider numbers and counting and such things to be mathematic, and condemn those who snicker as academic Hitlers.

Will the fail never end?

-mg&jb, in that order:)

A matter of texture.

Feb 02, 2009 in Religion

This piece from one of Sullivan’s readers is compacts a lot of meaning and power into a few paragraphs:

The first philosophy major is correct that atheists are very rare indeed if the atheist is defined as a person who has managed to step completely outside the cultural norms and values that have been expressed and codified by the many religions over the years. But very few atheists try to make such a claim: Richard Dawkins, for instance, is happy to call himself a “cultural Christian.”

What assertive atheists like myself (and Dawkins, if I read him correctly) argue is that because religion can be understood as a product of human culture, human culture itself can be improved by denying the absolute, allegedly objective truth of the claims made by particular religions on our allegiance.

Rather than believing in the objective truth of the commands of a particular god named Yahweh, we can instead look at the human cultural universals that Yahweh’s followers exhibit when compared to the followers of Allah, Shiva, Buddha, and so on. Rather than evaluating the truth and goodness of our received values by referring to scripture, we can evaluate the effects of both universal and local values in terms of their results on human happiness and well-being, and we can make changes where our received values fail. We can see if declining to believe in a particular god or its commandments causes people to erupt in spasms of self-indulgence and violence (it doesn’t); we can see if devout faith reliably prevents people from being cruel (it doesn’t); and we can conclude that something besides religion’s scriptural and bureaucratic authority is at work in the phenomena of human goodness and evil.

I’m emotionally at a place where I would enjoy sitting next to Sullivan during Mass. Last night I sat down with Lil’ Miss Samari and picked out appropriate Bible readings for the wedding (it was multiple choice, I wasn’t that enthusiastic). I’m basically taking a bit of a dip into Catholic culture, but it’s not threatening to me. More and more each day I understand the perspective of my Humanities professor who didn’t believe a scrap of the Bible was literally true, but declared himself Catholic.

I don’t believe I ever can, but out of respect. I believe the church is essentially the domain of the believers, and that you should have at least some belief in the Resurrection, and not regard Mass as some traditional poetry and song number, before you proclaim yourself a member of the fan club. I also intend to do nothing to lend credence to the parade of dandy fops in the Vatican, a principled disrespect.

But I don’t live in the Vatican, and the Catholic community I’ve met so far is a top-notch grade-A group of people. I don’t think these people need a fake pope at all to keep their ways alive. But I hope they do, because it’s been an excellent family to join.

I’m marrying Lil’ Miss Samari because she is as truly wonderful as a woman can be. I’m getting married in a Catholic church because I believe it can capture the grandiosity and sacredness of the event. I can have spiritual agreements with these people, and concede the profundity of certain conceits of theirs.

Yet I still believe myself capable of doing the same in temple, mosque, or synagogue. How elegant would this world be if everybody could stay true to their own cultural beliefs yet enjoy comfort and rest among unbelievers?

Ah, but elegance springs from within, as the letter above states, and we make the choices. Religion is a texture applied to ethereal shapes.

-jb

If they’re so honorable and decent, why do they keep acting like scumbags?

Oct 29, 2008 in Politics, Religion

And I’m not even talking about the latest convicted Republican felon, Ted Stevens.

Nope, Liddy Dole literally inserts audio into her opponent’s mouth saying, “There is no God!!!”

Her opponent, Kay Hagan, teaches Sunday School.

I’m an elder in this church, where the Hagan family has attended for over 100 years. I go on mission trips. I was raised going to Sunday school and church every week. And I raised my children that way.
* On Christmas Eve, we attend the 11:00 evening service, then early on Christmas mornings, my children and husband and I go to the Bell House and cook breakfast for the residents there. My family, my community and my church are the anchors of my life.
* If Senator Dole wants to pass judgment on my faith, that’s her right – but it’s not what my faith teaches.
* This is a fabricated, pathetic ad.

Good Golly, why would Liddy Dole do that?

Congress just had to bailout Wall Street, workers’ retirement savings are out the window, people are genuinely concerned about keeping their job in this tough economic climate, and Elizabeth Dole is trying to talk about ANYTHING but the issues.
* This attack speaks volumes about her personally and politically, but more importantly, it speaks to the lack of leadership she’s shown on behalf of North Carolinians. At this critical point in American history, why isn’t Elizabeth Dole talking about what she’s done for North Carolinians and what she’s planning to do if re-elected?

This is the Republican plight. Trapped in the corner due to bad policies and bad ideas, they have no choice but to resort to their vile selves, and hope that there are enough ugly (and amazingly gullible) people out there to fall for it. Every day the GOP shrinks and grows more pathological, shedding all but the Sarah Palin fan base, the closer it gets to complete implosion, which I will welcome with glee. Couldn’t happen to a more rotten bunch.

-jb

Dobson carves off a chunk of evangelicals and hands them to Obama.

Jun 25, 2008 in Barack Obama, Politics, Religion

Former Christianist nutbag Frank Schaeffer says James Dobson is a dinosaur in the evangelical movement, wearing his very own George W. Bush albatross. His attack on Obama for actually espousing ideas that resemble the teachings of Jesus may be a trigger that turns millions of evangelicals onto Obama:

But the new generation of evangelicals is sick of being labeled as backward rednecks because of their association with fossils like Dobson. There are many evangelicals like Cizik too who are not all about homophobia, nationalism, war-without-end and American exceptionalism or the Republican Party. Like Cizik they believe that the America has a responsibility to do something about global warming, poverty, AIDS, human trafficking and other issues. They see through Dobson and the other so-called pro-life leaders, who have actually done nothing to reduce abortion. In fact Dobson has increased abortions because of his “abstinence only” crusade.

As a result of his power grabs and bullying of other evangelicals, not to mention his telling people how to vote and pointing them to the failed W, Dobson & Co. have zero credibility with a growing number of otherwise conservative evangelicals who happen–this year–to be looking favorably at Senator Obama’s holistic Christian-based world view. Unlike Dobson they like Obama’s theology just fine.

All that was missing to put the frosting on the Obama cake was for Dobson to attack him. For Obama to win all he needs to do is peel off a chunk of heretofore solid evangelical Republican votes. Dobson just handed Obama those votes.

In my world view, you don’t need a very good reason to do good things. They are self-evident. If Jesus makes you do it, then good deal. If you want to hate and be insane, and then point to Jesus as your inspiration, then Jesus isn’t going to save you in any sense of the word. In recent years the crazy haters have been stealing the headlines and putting terrible people into our government. Obama stands positioned to speak out for Christians who think about Christ as something other than a tool to bludgeon other people for supposed sins, and that is self-evidently good.

-jb

UPDATE: Snap! Obama isn’t afraid to tussle over the Bible! Hot damn motherfucker. This is the kind of balls Mike, I and many others have admired in Obama, and what we’re waiting for him to regain on FISA. Obama will win every time he takes a stand. Why did he forget?

Goose, Meet Gander

Jun 19, 2008 in Christian Right, Religion, Straight-up madness, things so depressing that categories shun them like wou

Journey with me to the land of let’s-pretend and imagine that this horrible story concerned an Islamic family instead of a Christian one. How loud would the outcry be out there in wingnut-land? How much spittle would fly through Malkin’s teeth as she demanded that the Muslim-hugging liberal press admit, once and for all, that the problem is Islam itself, not some insane dude who never got the memo about not murdering your own children? So-called Christians in the right wing are all about hanging every bad thing done in the name of Allah on Islam itself, but they become suddenly familiar with philosophical nuance when the barbarism begins at home. One gets tired of shouting “Matthew 7:5, you hypocritical scumbags” at the top of one’s lungs, but the work must continue until the message gets through.
-TT

Holy smokes, prayers and incantations…

Jun 10, 2008 in Barack Obama, Politics, Religion

The Christian Broadcasting Network is doing a double-take over Obama’s so-crazy-it-could-work plan to go straight after evangelicals:

A source close to the Obama campaign tells The Brody File the following:

“The Joshua Generation project will be the Obama campaign’s outreach to young people of faith. There’s unprecedented energy and excitement for Obama among young evangelicals and Catholics. The Joshua Generation project will tap into that excitement and provide young people of faith opportunities to stand up for their values and move the campaign forward.”

The official rollout won’t be for another two weeks or so, but The Brody File has been told the activities will include house parties, blogging, concerts and more.

Joshua?

Obama: “I’m here because somebody marched. I’m here because you all sacrificed for me. I stand on the shoulders of giants. I thank the Moses generation; but we’ve got to remember, now, that Joshua still had a job to do. As great as Moses was, despite all that he did, leading a people out of bondage, he didn’t cross over the river to see the Promised Land. God told him your job is done. You’ll see it. You’ll be at the mountain top and you can see what I’ve promised. What I’ve promised to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. You will see that I’ve fulfilled that promise but you won’t go there. We’re going to leave it to the Joshua generation to make sure it happens. There are still battles that need to be fought; some rivers that need to be crossed. Like Moses, the task was passed on to those who might not have been as deserving, might not have been as courageous, find themselves in front of the risks that their parents and grandparents and great grandparents had taken. That doesn’t mean that they don’t still have a burden to shoulder, that they don’t have some responsibilities. The previous generation, the Moses generation, pointed the way. They took us 90% of the way there. We still got that 10% in order to cross over to the other side. So the question, I guess, that I have today is what’s called of us in this Joshua generation? What do we do in order to fulfill that legacy; to fulfill the obligations and the debt that we owe to those who allowed us to be here today?”

Mmm’kay…yeah, nice metaphor I suppose, if you’re into the Old Testament. Of course, Barack is, and you bet the Brody File is!

Whatever you think of the “Joshua Generation Project,” you have to give the campaign their due because they are making concerted efforts to NOT ignore faith voters. In my reporting, I can tell you this is not a contrived effort.

The folks behind this believe in not only the mission of winning over faith voters to Obama but the larger mission of not ignoring faith voters when it comes to politics.

They seem to relate. I can dig it.

-jb

Hugh Hewitt’s own-goal.

Jun 09, 2008 in Barack Obama, Christian Right, Clueless Conservatives, Politics, Racism, Religion, Reverend Jeremiah Wright

Hilarious…Hugh Hewitt, the idiot Brian Pickrell wants to be when he grows up, has on his blog a series of posts featuring monthly newsletters written by Jeremiah Wright for Trinity Church that somebody dug up. The rub? The newsletters are pissing off his slobbering rightwing readers because they’re completely boring and positive!

The Hewitt posts, intentionally or not, seem to corroborate Obama’s claims (which to many seemed a bit implausible) that, on a week to week basis, Wright was not serving up loopy views or radical anti-Americanism, but was encouraging personal responsibility and the relatively typical forms of social activism that many churches and synagogues encourage. Hewitt’s readers are getting upset with the postings, because they find them boring and because they understand that the postings strongly disprove the contention that Wright was such a monomaniacal radical that no congregant of moderate political beliefs attending the church or reading the bulletin could have possibly maintained his membership.

Ahhh! Narrative interruption, narrative interruption!!! Hugh Hewitt, you should know your readers have no interest in the truth! The question is, since you have no interest in the truth, what is your rationale for having these newsletters on your blog?

Was Hewitt such a bottom-feeder that he thought merely reminding readers of the existence of Jeremiah Wright would be enough to fuel anti-Obama anger?

This is the best comment I’ve read so far:

After reading all these…

The Trinity church really doesn’t seem all that radical. Most of the content is about personal responsibility, charity, compassion, etc. Decent and virtuous Christian values. Sure, maybe some wackyness here and there, but overall, if this makes someone a “radical”, maybe more of us should become a little more radical.

Seems like the ones most threatened by this one black Christian church are other Christians…Why is that?

Hugh/Duane, if you are truly an evangelical Christians, how can you publish all this and trash what are probably mostly good congregational caring fellow Christians. You said those of us who judged Mitt Romney’s LDS faith as bigots?

Is winning that important to you? More than your faith and it’s underlying values?

Yes. Hewitt is the GOP specialty, the godless priest.

-jb

This isn’t an establishment clause issue.

Apr 27, 2008 in Clueless Conservatives, Religion, Uncategorized

Charles Grassley (R-IA) has a beef with churches that openly engage in political endorsements yet simultaneously enjoy tax exempt status. For his sins, Grassley gets tagged with the old, reliable, right-wing chestnut; the “elitist” label.

On Sunday Wead continued to press those same charges, arguing that “you cannot say there is not a legitimate scriptural rationale for these [Word of Faith] doctrines, they’re there in the Bible. If the Constitution allows freedom of religion, people who believe these doctrines and interpret them the way they choose to interpret them, have a right to believe that. And there shouldn’t be elitists who seize power in government to stop them from believing them. We’ve always had elitists like that who try to protect us dumb people, because we’re so dumb and we’re so stupid.” That’s a classic ruse used by the televangelists. They have long argued that, because Pentecostalism originated as a religious movement of the poor and uneducated, any criticism of its religious expression and worship style must stem from the disdain of mainline Protestants and evangelicals who engage in the theological equivalent of sipping lattes and driving Volvos.

Furthermore, this is not a case of the government dictating or imposing doctrine. It’s a situation involving a religious institution taking advantage of it’s special stature so that it can line the pockets of those who operate it which, of course, is nothing new in the strange realm of prosperity theology. But when a church starts endorsing candidates or political parties it needs to be prepared to answer some hard questions and at least be able to argue in favor of their status as a charitable organization without having to resort to Limbaugh-style rebuttals.

-mg

Scientists are so dumb.

Dec 06, 2007 in Religion, Science

Trying to figure out why animal life exploded in the Cambrian Era!?!? Intelligent design, hello! God did it, stop speculating further! Stop all that exploring and investigating! What? Organisms developing the ability to poop might have allowed evolution to take off? That’s a very poop-y theory!

-jb

Mormons: The bridge between Christianity and Scientology

Dec 06, 2007 in Politics, Religion

Mitt Romney’s campaign has succeeded at one thing, no doubt: unearthing the really crazy shit about Mormonism that nobody tells you. Even Newsweek’s fairly recent bit on Mormonism spent more time on the sexy stories of that loony and rather obvious charlatan, Joseph Smith, than the actual theological beliefs of Mormons. I confess I’ve been really surprised by some of the bits and pieces that have come about recently, thinking the Book of Mormon to be a boring and uneventful collection of wood pulp that couldn’t inspire a frog to jump. Turns out that the best stuff about Mormonism is kept relatively well-hidden from the public, much like Scientology’s Lord Xenu and the Thetan Star Wars. They make sure you’re good and fixed inside the church before you get to taste the moonshine…

I won’t vouch for the veracity of this piece at all…take it with a grain of salt. But it surely is interesting, and the sources are listed. And it’s not like Mormons have come out swinging against these charges.

On polytheism:

Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie spoke about the Godhead in this way, “Plurality of Gods: Three separate personages: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, comprise the Godhead. As each of these persons is a God, it is evident, from this standpoint alone, that a plurality of Gods exists. To us, speaking in the proper finite sense, these three are the only Gods we worship. But in addition there is an infinite number of holy personages, drawn from worlds without number, who have passed on to exaltation and are thus gods” (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 576-577).

Yeah, monotheism is kind of central to Christianity. The whole point of the Trinity is to cram three entities into one ultimate God. Keep it mono! Mormonism seems to flagrantly brush such advice aside. Wait, people can become gods?

In Mormon theology, the god of our planet is believed to have once been a man on another planet, who through self-effort and the help of his own father-god, was appointed by a counsel of gods in the heavens to his high position as the god of planet Earth, and now has a physical, resurrected, glorified body. Mormonism teaches that through the atonement of Christ and by their good deeds and “holy” living, men can one day become gods, and with their multiplicity of “goddess wives,” populate their own planets. (This is what the celestial marriage and the Mormon temple vows are all about.)

It’s kind of a lovely idea, and the universe is definitely loaded with spare planets. Hell, we likely have spare universes as well. Why not? Hell, I don’t know. If I were whipping up a new religion out of my ass like Joseph Smith did, I could go for that. Not tacky like Scientology, with lots of room for one’s imagination to play in (the key: Don’t get too specific. If you invent Lord Xenu, then you’ve got to tell me more about him, like if his ships have mere lasers or kickass phasers.)

Mormonism acknowledges the divinity of Christ, but as noted above, Mormon doctrine on what constitutes divinity falls seriously short of the Biblical standard. Mormonism teaches that Jesus, Lucifer, and all the demons, as well as all mankind, are actually all spirit brothers and sisters, born in the spirit world as spirit babies to our man-god Heavenly Father and his goddess wives. Mormon leaders have consistently taught that God the Father (“Adam-god”) had sexual relations on earth with Mary (his own spirit daughter), to produce the physical body of Jesus. Early Mormon apostles also asserted that Christ was a polygamist, and that His wives included Mary and Martha (the sisters of Lazarus) and Mary Magdalene

By this point, the average Christian has left the room and thinks Mitt Romney is crazier than Tom Cruise. This is just too much. And Mormons know it, which is why, like every genuine religious whackjob, they develop extremely slithery skills at not talking about what they’re really about (this also applies to most of the GOP Christianist Dominionist base). Still, even Christians gearing up to fight Satan and the U.N. in the desert with military hardware hear this stuff and think, “Man, those guys are fargin’ nuts!” Sure, there’s going to be a Rapture any second now, and the rest of us are going to get all those cars left empty, but goddess wives and God/Adam boning his spirit daughters? Was that completely necessary?

Oh, like I can really fathom the chutzpah required to dream up a “sacred text.” But if you’re already a racist prick, you probably do have enough mental problems to blame it on God.

According to Mormonism, then, the vast majority of mankind will be “saved,” though it should be obvious that no one will make it to the Celestial Kingdom. [Blacks used to be totally out of the equation: "Black people are black because of their misdeeds in the pre-existence" (Three Degrees of Glory, LDS Apostle Melvin J. Ballard, p. 21); "The Negro is an unfortunate man. He has been given a black skin. But that is nothing compared with that greater handicap. He is not permitted to receive the priesthood and the ordinances of the temple, necessary to prepare men and women to enter into and enjoy a fullness of glory in the Celestial Kingdom" (Elder George E. Richards). In 1978, however, the Mormon Church announced that God had lifted his curse from the African race.]

Well, wasn’t God timely? Being eternal and all, he changed his mind to fit changing attitudes towards race. And then he directly communicated that to the Mormon Church.

A typical temple ceremony would take place as follows: “The ritual began in a small cubicle where we had to strip completely. We then put on ‘the shield,’ a poncho with a hole for the head, but open on the sides (similar to a hospital gown). We went through a series of ‘washings and anointings,’ as various parts of our bodies were touched by elderly temple workers who mumbled appropriate incantations over them. Our Mormon underwear, ‘the garments,’ are said to have powers to protect us from ‘the evil one.’ It had occult markings, which were so ‘sacred’ that we were instructed to burn them when the garments wore out. The endowment ceremony mocked all doctrines held to by Biblical Christianity, and Christian pastors were portrayed as servants of Satan. We had to swear many blood oaths, promising we would forfeit our lives if we weren’t faithful, or if we revealed any of the secrets revealed to us in the temple ceremonies. We were made to pretend by grotesque gestures to cut our throats, chests, and abdomens, indicating how we would lose our lives. We were never told who would kill us! The inference was, and history testifies to, that it would be the Mormon priesthood.” (Testimony of a former Mormon.) [Note: The blood oaths and portrayal of Christian pastors were removed in April of 1990, despite the fact that the ordinance was purported to have been given originally by a revelation and was never to be changed.]

Nothing cult-like here at all. Move along, people. Stop being such bigots!

Granted, I am no Christian, and find many Christian beliefs to be inspired by madness and shenanigans. But Mormonism doubles the crazy without any appreciable benefits or any particular metaphysical insights. They might have in their defense the fact that most seem to be fairly polite and well-groomed people, much calmer than many hopped-up-on-Jeebus fundamentalist Christians. But when the underlying theology is so convoluted, tasteless, and secretive, it raises questions about those believers and how they can possibly swallow any of this horseshit. It degrades trust that the people running the religion are anything other than shysters, and the followers brainwashed sheep. Not the trust of godless heathens like myself, but the trust of the average religious person.

Just because you’re in the asylum doesn’t mean you’re just as crazy as everybody else there.

-jb

The Devil You Know

Dec 03, 2007 in Religion, Uncategorized

Your humble and irascible correspondent Thomas T. is gonna make two predictions about this: one, the main substance of the speech will be how great it is that we have religious freedom in this country, and wouldn’t it be a terrible blow to religious freedom if Christian voters went with their guts and concluded that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is maybe not just another mainstream Christian sect, but one whose beliefs are, well, a little exotic, by most Christian standards; and, two, he won’t be mentioning any of the areas in which Mormonism differs sharply from historical Christianity. (That link leads to a site boasting all manner of completely-insane-and-lovin’-it fundamentalist beliefs, but we don’t believe in shooting the messenger here, and official LDS sites are a little shell-game on the “yes, we believe in many gods” evidences.)

In other words, it’ll be some feel-good whitewash stuff intended to make conservatives who ID as Christian but aren’t that gung-ho about it feel OK with voting for Mitt. These same conservatives would spit blood rushing to ask pointed questions if the candidate adhered to any other world faith, of course, but since there’s the whiff of Christianity – and, more importantly, the odor of electability – they’ll do Jesus proud and keep their mouths shut. Brave Christian warriors! Your faith is truly an inspiration to us all.

-tt

How To Make Yourself Look Bad: the Continuing Saga

Oct 17, 2007 in Religion

Look, here’s the deal: lots of lefties may hate conservatives, call Republicans all sorts of stupid insulting names (way to advance the dialogue, guys – I’m sure “they did it first” makes everybody feel a lot prouder of themselves, eh?), and generally dedicate much of their spleen to wasting time, energy and verbiage articulating their hatred. Similarly-minded conservatives parlay this into a neat reversal, describing their own irrational and unseemly hatred as a response to those hateful people on the other side of the aisle. A good sign that you’re in the presence of a person who’s still got loads of childhood issues to work out is that they’re still engaged in name-calling, all these years after kindergarten.

But the real fact is that most people who lean left, like most people who lean right, are just folks. They have their opinions, and because opinions are exactly what we’re talking about, they vary. Angry people don’t dig variance, because it’s so damned mellow, so they describe people who don’t agree with them as insane, fanatic, belligerent, moronic, etc., etc., etc. It’s tedious to read such stuff, and there’s no shortage of places to read it.

Such is my thinking, anyhow, on most days. And then something like this happens. Explaining how it actually makes sense to put somebody who’s against contraception in charge of family planning programs, an HHS spokesman cites the appointee’s “breadth of managerial experience.” Across the nation, the sound of palms smacking foreheads echoes loudly. Such an appointment seems really stupid, and not just to partisan standard-bearers, either, but to a rather vast majority and broad cross-section of this country’s citizens. Your normal church-going clock-punching cable-watching American isn’t opposed to birth control; he or she generally uses it a couple of times a week. Nor are most people right or left against birth control being available to the poor at some government expense; everybody knows that the long view’s more important than the short one, and that given the choice between preventing a pregnancy and feeding a poor child for eighteen years, the former is the sounder economic choice. This is not a liberal position; it’s a frankly an unabashedly conservative one. That’s what makes this whole business so irritating. It’s conservatives who ought to be most outraged about this; instead, any time the subject comes up, the poor wretches will go directly to the talking points (“Some people use abortion as birth control! That’s just wrong!”), selling out their conservatism to a race in which they don’t actually have a horse. Is it more frustrating than pathetic, or more pathetic than frustrating? I can’t decide. It’s like there’s chocolate in my peanut butter, only it’s bizarro universe chocolate and reverso-world peanut butter, so the whole thing taste like gym socks.

-Thomas Tallis

Caliphate in the U.K.

Aug 06, 2007 in Islam, Religion

From today’s NYT:

An international radical Islamic party that has been the focus of increasing concern in Britain launched a frontal attack on its critics at a carefully stage-managed conference in London this weekend that attracted several thousand relatively well-heeled Muslims…

…Why did Hizb ut-Tahir not work for the goal of the caliphate in Britain, asked someone in the audience during a question-and-answer session.

“We focus our work where we can get the quickest results,” said Mr. Abuzahra, the academic.

Which means that with a total Muslim population of about 2.8 percent the possibilities of a UK caliphate are approximately nill.

-mg

Just wondering.

Jul 19, 2007 in Catholicism, Christian Right, Clueless Conservatives, Religion

I’ve often wondered whether Catholic voters are aware of the rampant anti-Catholic views held by a large majority of Pentacostals and SBCers.

-mg

An upfront godless priest.

Jul 14, 2007 in Religion, Uncategorized

Godless priests are, in my lexicon, those who find themselves to be intelligent and rational enough to see through organized religion, yet cannot stomach the thought of the masses running wild without, “It’s bad because (I) God says so,” taming them. It’s about public control for them, keeping the stupid and shameless reined in. Their public pronouncements about what is right and wrong, which they have very rational reasons for, feel weak and powerless to them unless they can underline them with God.

Michael Gerson writes an op-ed in today’s Washington Post which operates entirely from this premise. To him, whether or not God exists is secondary to what the people need to be told.

So the dilemma is this: How do we choose between good and bad instincts? Theism, for several millennia, has given one answer: We should cultivate the better angels of our nature because the God we love and respect requires it. While many of us fall tragically short, the ideal remains.

Atheism provides no answer to this dilemma. It cannot reply: “Obey your evolutionary instincts” because those instincts are conflicted. “Respect your brain chemistry” or “follow your mental wiring” don’t seem very compelling either. It would be perfectly rational for someone to respond: “To hell with my wiring and your socialization, I’m going to do whatever I please.”

Well, as long as whatever they please doesn’t involve treading on their neighbor, it is perfectly rational. Gerson, however, is intent on a cartoonish picture of atheism, ethics, and morality. If you remove “God sez so!” then suddenly people can’t figure out why rape is wrong? If we’re not magical creatures that just skip over into an eternal fantasy land after dying, then the universe, all its workings, and our one chance at life, are meaningless? No fractal expansion of eternal principles such as truth, beauty, harmony, etc. over the course of billions of years into a world where creatures such as ourselves can understand and embody such things, eh, Gerson? Even a strong sense of spiritual, energetic power in tune with the universe can’t guide a person towards a morality that makes sense?

Of course, not. The human as a beast to be controlled is the fundamental guiding principle of any godless priest. God is Truth, but the truth to him is, what to do with mankind? Ultimately, he is a far more base and bestial creature than most atheists.

One must then ask, who determines what it is that “God” says? Jerry Falwell? A religiously chosen monarch? A council of guys like Gerson? What happens when they prove to be wrong about slavery or homosexuality or what patch of damned land they think God promised them? How do you control the person inflamed to commit evil by “God,” who’ll hear nothing else?

Perhaps Gerson will one day achieve this epiphany: this desire for a harmonious society filled with people at the highest levels of personal evolution pervades us all. It exists with or without a belief in a God who kindly tells us what to do. And if you’ve sunken to using God as a blunt instrument to keep others in line, you’ve earned little right to place yourself or your beliefs above that of any atheist, or any other person whose sense of spirituality lacks a central disciplinarian. Such a view of morality is superficial and far flimsier than the answers of philosophers and ethicists.

-jb

Fuckin’ A – RABS!

Jul 13, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Middle East, Racism, Religion, Uncategorized

Here’s how the First Amendment is revered by the fanatical right wing:

The irony here is that we have an administration that is completely integrated with a regime that is the rats-nest of Wahabist sentiment yet the mouth-breathing base can reflexively identify a peaceful Hindu man like Rajan Zed with the same ridicule and scorn as a Syrian imam.

As James Woolsey points out in this Wall Street Journal editorial, reaching out to other religions in a tactful way, much as Tony Blair had done with mainstream UK Muslims, would do a lot to undermine radical Islam and  to also quell those keen on stateside xenophobia. By cozying up to the main purveyors of radical Islam this administration has done exactly the opposite. They’ve done jack-shit about terrorism and even worse they’ve sat about while al-Qaeda has become as strong as they’ve ever been because for this administration politics trumps policy.

- mg

Sully doesn’t claim to be an economic populist, doubtlessly.

Jun 26, 2007 in Politics, Religion

Sullivan on Obama:

He also threatens, if he pulls it off, to be a transformational candidate, turning American politics into a battleground primarily between those who believe the Gospels mandate an expansive welfare state and those who believe they mandate government’s moral regulation of human birth, death and sex.

Sullivan refers to National Health Care when he talks of “an expansive welfare state,” of course, directing his hatred for welfare as long as it’s for those most likely to need it if it means billionaires pay higher taxes.

Still, that’s a good choice. Ask people to have the government look after normal citizens with as much vigor as it looks after the rich, and the libertarian-conservatives will remind you that they will accept the second choice with little provokation.

-jb

Still no excuse to mix God into politics.

Jun 18, 2007 in Religion

In a review of Christopher Hitchens’ new book, God Is Not Great, Sam Schulman pulls out the usual tripe about Communist governments, which are supposed to be representative of “atheism” mixed with politics:

Indeed, in the face of the horrors perpetrated by “scientific socialism,” whether of the Communist or Nazi variety, most of today’s atheists tend to fall mute. Hitchens, however, has a riposte. Communism and Nazism “did not so much negate religion,” he writes, “as seek to replace” it. That is, the essential wickedness of “scientific” totalitarian regimes is traceable in his view to the fact that they are themselves religions. For Hitchens, in short, everything religion touches is bad, and everything bad is religious—including anti-religion. This is the sort of reasoning that gives syllogisms a bad name.

That’s the problem with putting things “in short,” Sam. Your own horsetwaddle tends to replace the original content. That said, I haven’t read Hitchens’ book, but let’s look at Schulman’s POV. Calling Naziism “scientific socialism” or even atheistic is a magnificent stretch. It’s done because, in short, anything that becomes evil isn’t religious anymore. Unfortunately, Germany was a Christian nation and the Nazi leaders employed religion quite effectively. Did Schulman forget that the slur of Jews as “Christ-killers” was readily exploited, or ignore the complicity of the Catholic Church?

But yes, Communism was pretty atheistic by definition and Communist governments have almost always treated religion as an enemy. The problem is in the inherent difference between religion and atheism. Religions are organized around certain beliefs. The members proclaim a faith that certain things not readily apparent exist, and they will usually follow the proclamations of various holy texts. In mainstream contexts, we can expect to primarily hear about the Abrahamic religions, Hinduism and its offshoot Buddhism.

Atheism, however, is simply the absence of such a belief. An atheist is not a theist. Even a professed theist who turns around and behaves like there isn’t a God like, you know, televangelists and other snake charmers, could be lumped in just like the Nazis.

What comes after one says, “Eh, methinks this God business is a bunch of malarkey,” however, can vary dramatically, and is often identical to the thought process of the theist. A person wants peace, and so they construct a system of belief around peace. Another individual craves power, and so the belief system conforms.

The question is, what is the specific benefit of atheism for those who pursue power? Does it make things easier than manipulating religion?

Evidently, it didn’t.

Sooner or later a government had to experiment with the idea of building itself on a foundation of reason rather than religion. It seems curious that Americans, living in the first country to try it, would scoff at the notion. The fact that some authoritarians states later tried to enforce atheism the same way other authoritarian states enforce religion should hardly surprise anybody.

What is instructive is how extensively they failed, and how long the USA, as a non-religiously founded nation that practices religious freedom, has succeeded.

-jb

A defeat for bigotry, a victory for marriage.

Jun 16, 2007 in Christian Right, Constitution, Culture, Politics, Religion

And for the Constitution.

AFTER WEEKS of intense lobbying and endless speculation about who might vote how, a joint session of the Legislature made blessedly quick work yesterday of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. In a State House mobbed with revved-up campaigners on both sides of the issue, lawmakers took a quarter hour to dispatch the proposal by a decisive margin. The vote was a victory for decency and civil equality, and underscored Massachusetts’ long history of protecting individual rights.

Congratulations, Massachusetts, on leading America forward and eschewing the hatred and fear that the Republican party has worked so hard to stoke in America. Right now millions of “conservatives” (i.e. theocratic authoritarians exploiting the Bible) are gnashing their teeth in unrighteous, depraved fury. Their anger has been blocked, their hate-fever stunted, their assumed gratification of raw willpower over reason denied. They still have their bigotry enshrined in law in 49 other states in defiance of the Constitution, but in Massachusetts their Berlin wall of mindless oppression has had a healthy chunk knocked down, and it’s unlikely to go back up.

Time is on the side of equality. The state’s first same-sex married couples have already celebrated their third wedding anniversaries. With each year that passes, it becomes ever clearer that the sky will not fall; that the institution of marriage has been strengthened, not weakened; and that giving everyone the right to marriage makes Massachusetts a happier place overall

Anti-gay activists have done a good job of framing the debate, persuading millions of Americans that they’re not on the assault, but rather on the defense. Even Clinton signed the “Defense of Marriage Act.”

But what this has been is the ending of aggression and assault on the rights, humanity, and citizenry of America’s homosexuals. And that truth keeps seeping through, no matter what apocolyptic terror Christianists have shrieked. They lost the debate long ago, they lost the moral high ground, all they’ve had is the well-honed tools of propaganda, fear, and bullying, cloaked in a layer of self-righteousness more akin to Pigpen’s layer of grime. They have not been just, or good, or kind, and have certainly not paid much of any attention to the teachings of Jesus they supposedly put above all else. They have been hateful, divisive, dishonest, and ultimately evil in their actions, no matter how lovingly they gaze upon each other or what other good things they have done with their lives.

It is the hope and promise of America that liberty will prevail.

-jb

Mayhem of the Mooninites.

May 28, 2007 in Religion

Scoobie Davis has been the guru of all things Moon for years now and he’s got a terrific video featuring Orrin Hatch publicly debasing himself.   Any of our conservative readers care to take a crack at explaining why a guy like this passes under the radar?  No big deal, right?

-mg

“Radical” al-Sadr calls for peace, tolerance.

May 26, 2007 in Iraq, Journamalism, Religion

Anytime you read a mention of Muqtada al-Sadr like bacon and eggs the word radical is going to be tagging along with it. There are a lot of ways to interpret the word radical but I’m assuming that when it’s used in conjunction with a Muslim it’s being used primarily in a pejorative sense since I seriously doubt that they’re referring to his “radical” skateboarding skillz. Here’s a list of some of his “radical” teaching from his last sermon in Kufa:

“Pay attention: This is an important point,” he said. “As far as I know, the occupation is behind this, creating an excuse for it to stay in our beloved Iraq. So don’t give it a reason, please.”

Calling the message a fatwa, al-Sadr said that “any fighting between the brothers is not allowed and [is] forbidden as long as they follow the good and reject the wrong. I advise the dear brothers in the Mehdi Army to resort to peaceful choices if they are attacked by the weak souls.” …

He said he is ready to cooperate with Sunnis and welcomes them. …

He also urged protection of minorities in Iraq, namely Christians. …

Al-Sadr has been supportive of al-Maliki’s government and helped him become prime minister last year.

It’s obvious from the above that the Mad Mullah al-Sadr has done lost his mind!!!

So what’s so radical about the above? He’s merely echoing the same concerns shared by a vast majority of Iraqis.

-mg

Fallible Falwell, in the looking glass.

May 17, 2007 in Christian Right, Culture, Religion

The leader of the Christianist movement, Jerry Falwell, died knowing he would leave behind a legacy of political influence. He will not be around anymore to provide his insights, but he made sure others remembered them. Thom Hartmann made a good point this morning about the essential spark of spiritual communion with the universe that sends human beings rocketing down their individual paths in pursuit of the ultimate, and how that experience should be respected, but not necessarily everything that is done in its name. Jerry Falwell undoubtedly felt something very powerful, something perhaps beyond the scope of human comprehension, that provided an impetus for his lifelong crusade. Unfortunately, lifelong crusades are fairly common, and they tend to clash strongly. Jerry Falwell was, ultimately, a human being who, like pretty much every other human being, took that initial inspiration and slapped his human convictions all over it and labeled them as representative of that greater power.

Not necessarily anything wrong with that, as this roughly describes the experiences of most human beings. We must, in the end, still look at the content of these proclamations and decide, for ourselves, how close we believe them to be the truth. Whether you agree or disagree with him, this process will be largely unavoidable.

So, Jerry, what did you have to say while you were here on Earth? How close were you to the truth? Readers, decide for yourselves. From Essential Estrogen:

Rev. Falwell Quotations

“Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions.”

“The whole (global warming) thing is created to destroy America’s free enterprise system and our economic stability.”

“AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.”

(Speaking about 9/11)”And, I know that I’ll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’”

“Billy Graham is the chief servant of Satan in America.”

“The idea that religion and politics don’t mix was invited by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country.”

“I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won’t have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!”

“Grown men should not be having sex with prostitutes unless they are married to them.”

“If you’re not a born-again Christian, you’re a failure as a human being.”

“Textbooks are Soviet propaganda.”

“The ACLU is to Christians what the American Nazi party is to Jews.”

“It appears that America’s anti-Biblical feminist movement is at last dying, thank God, and is possibly being replaced by a Christ-centered men’s movement which may become the foundation for a desperately needed national spiritual awakening.”

I think it will be a long time before the damage Jerry Falwell did to the United States is undone. That initial, transcendant spark was turned into a worship and seizure of power. He rarely spoke of others with mercy, and I find it curious that so many strive to do him that favor. Perhaps they lead by example. I’ll let truth be the example.

-jb

This is hatred.

Mar 18, 2007 in Christian Right, Clueless Conservatives, Religion

Hey, Albert Mohler was just thinking out loud…and noting that you can accept a biological basis for gays and still hate them. And, hopefully, eradicate them:

If a biological basis (for homosexuality) is found, and if a prenatal test is then developed, and if a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation to heterosexual is ever developed, we would support its use as we should unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual temptation and the inevitable effects of sin.

After all:

The discovery of a biological factor would not change the Bible’s moral verdict on homosexual behavior.

It would make it about as relevant as the Bible’s verdict on the flatness of an Earth which is today about 6000 years old, however. Many Christians rightly regard many of the “verdicts” in the Bible as outdated, it’s just that one about homosexuality (or more specifically, anal sex between males) that they refuse to give up on. I wonder if we’ll ever figure out why?

After all, you can’t say they aren’t compassionate:

“I think any Christian couple would want their child to be whole and healthy,” he said. “Knowing that that child is going to be a sinner, we would not want to make their personal challenges more difficult if they could be less difficult.”

And why is this necessary? Because the “pro-life” crowd will be willing to rethink abortion if they can “kill” a gay infant.

Murder is okay if it’s a fag, I guess.

Ah, sure, if the pro-choice crowd gets their way then no, we really can’t stop them good Christian men from getting those sinners plucked out of their women’s bellies.

But he forgets that if most of those in the pro-choice crowd got their way, people would realize the extent of their hatred towards homosexuality as a grave moral deficiency. One that Jesus, the one described in the Gospels, not the bastardized stripped-down-and-rebuilt version perverted by Paul throughout the rest of the New Testament, would be unlikely to find compassionate or benevolent.

And accepting a biological basis for homosexuality is the first step to realizing that:

For seeming to contradict a basic tenet of anti-gay thinking — that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, not a state of nature — Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, was inundated with e-mails from readers who castigated him…

Oh, yes, he was pissing everybody off that day, but honestly, folks, he was just trying to bring hate into the 21st century…

…and prevent the upcoming implosion of the religious right. The hypocrisy of the “pro-life” movement and the hatred behind their campaign against homosexuality, tossed into a garbage can with a stick of dynamite.

-jb

Random thoughts

Dec 10, 2006 in Christian Right, Religion

I think it’s fair to say that if the founding fathers really based the Constitution on the Bible, what took humanity almost 1800 years to formulate such a solution, and why would it take on the appearance of rejecting favoritism towards any particular religion, especially since accepting Christ as one’s savior in order to get to Heaven is the fundamental building block
of most denominations of Christianity?

Or will that just go down as one of those questions that gets avoided by people who are far more interested in propaganda than theology?

David Kuo on NPR’s On Point

Oct 19, 2006 in Christian Right, Clueless Conservatives, Religion, Uncategorized

I frequently listen to Tom Ashbrook’s long-running NPR program On Point on my way to and at work. Though never challenging it more often than not has some interesting guests and it’s infinitely more preferable than listening to Bob and Tom’s recycled fart gags. Ashbrook frequently comes across as a clueless Garrison Keillor because of his taut, tenor voice and confident tone except that in Ashbrook’s case there really is no evidence of talent. A couple weeks ago he had Chomsky on as a guest and was completely hung-up on the fact that Chomsky doesn’t regard the United States economic system as capitalistic and even laughed at him when he referred to John Dewey as a mainstream academic figure. No suprise then that after having David Kuo on to discuss his latest book Tempting Faith in which he chronicles in detail how it took him three years to realize what most of us knew in three days most of the tough questions go unasked. Here are some choice quotes taken from the broadcast:

“There is a general apathy in Washington toward the poor.”
“[When I arrived in the White House] I observed the poor were being used as a political pawn.”
“Most of what the White House has delivered [for the Christian Right] is symbolic.”
“Conservative Christians shouldn’t believe that George W. Bush is pastor-in-chief.”

I especially liked a casual comment he made about how he is now being referred to as literally “the devil” by ardent Bush crusaders since he has published his book. Since he has become critical of the administration this man of faith is now Lucifer incarnate proving once again that Glenn Greenwald was right in characterizing the current Republican party as a Bush-cult with no serious concern about conservative values.

-mg

God will protect you.

Oct 10, 2006 in Christian Right, Religion

Which is a good rationale for the church to say “Breast cancer?  You’re out on your ass, Sister!”

After all, just because the Gospels preached charity and helping the sick doesn’t mean the church has to provide health insurance for nuns or other employees who dare to fall ill, interfere with coverups of sexual misconduct, or grow old.  Fuck them.  Fuck them in their fucking asses!

Should the courts interfere?  Rarely.  But all those associated with places like Gannon University in Pennsylvania or, well, the Roman Catholic Church should be well aware of such practices and keep them in mind.

-jb