Monday, May 31, 2010

Mormons and Tea Parties: “When the Constitution of the United States hangs, as it were, upon a single thread”

I think I agree with Joanna Brooks (see bio-pic at end of article.)

Who Says the Tea Party is not a Religious Movement?   - Religion Dispatches oline magazine

Excerpt:

A) the Tea Party movement is not monolithic but rather deeply inflected with and informed by local and regional histories, concerns, rhetorics, and cultural nuances; and

B) among its LDS supporters in the American West, the Tea Party bears features of a religious movement. Especially in the intermountain west, the Tea Party movement has been fueled by and become co-articulated with deeply held Mormon beliefs that the U.S. Constitution is a divinely inspired document, that in the last days the Constitution will “hang like a thread,” and that a righteous remnant from the Rocky Mountains will save it. 

What about that “constitution hanging by a thread” stuff?

I can’t speak for the generation of Mormons after my own, but as a younger active member of the LDS Church, I knew about the thread prophecy which was as common a speculation as the future time when Mormons would be returning to Jackson County Missouri to help establish the New Jerusalem at the Second Coming of Christ.

Brigham Young quoting Joseph Smith is the principal source of this particularly revered part of LDS folk lore:

When the Constitution of the United States hangs, as it were, upon a single thread, they will have to call for the "Mormon" Elders to save it from utter destruction; and they will step forth and do it. 2:182. (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe, p.360, 361) – Mormon wiki.org

But Brigham has not been the sole source for Mormons. LDS President Joseph F. Smith 1912:

Now, these are the commandments of God, the principles contained in these commandments of the great Eternal are the principles that underly the Constitution of our country, and all just laws.

Joseph Smith, the prophet, was inspired to affirm and ratify this truth, and he further predicted that the time would come, when the Constitution of our country would hang as it were by a thread, and that the Latter-day Saints, above all other people in the world, would come to the rescue of that great and glorious palladium of our liberty(Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 403 & Conference Report, October 1912, p. 11) - Mormon wiki.org

Or this:

But beyond all that, the Latter-day Saints have a responsibility, that may be better understood when we recall the prophecy of Joseph Smith who declared that "the time would come when ( the destiny and ) the Constitution of these United States would hang as it were by a thread, and that this people, the sons of Zion, would rise up and save it from threatened destruction." (Conference Report, April 1942) - Mormon wiki.org

Ezra Taft Benson, LDS President from 1989-1994 had this to say which would fit in with much of the Tea Party and anti-socialist paranoia and rhetoric  making the rounds today":

The Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith there would be an attempt to overthrow the country by destroying the Constitution.

Joseph Smith predicted that the time would come when the Constitution would hang, as it were, by a thread, and at that time "this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction" (Journal of Discourses, 7:15).

It is my conviction that the elders of Israel, widely spread over the nation, will at that crucial time successfully rally the righteous of our country and provide the necessary balance of strength to save the institutions of constitutional government.

If the Gentiles on this land reject the word of God and conspire to overthrow liberty and the Constitution, their doom is fixed, and they "shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant" (1 Nephi 14:6; 3 Nephi 21:11, 14, 21; D&C 84:114-15, 117). (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 618-619 & God, Family, Country, p. 345.) - Mormon wiki.org

Again Joanna Brooks:

This complex of beliefs, often referred to as the “White Horse Prophecy,” originated in statements attributed to LDS Church founder Joseph Smith in 1843 but never canonized and yet reiterated time and time again over the last 167 years by Mormon leaders and the Mormon faithful.

(In January, after news broke that Idaho gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell was convening a series of closed-door “White Horse Prophecy” study groups, the LDS Church issued an official statement clarifying that the “White Horse Prophecy” is not doctrinal.) 

 

FAIR (The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research) has this pdf file on the White Horse Prophecy at its site

Brooks also points out that beyond the “constitutional thread” prophecy, conservative activists in Utah recently rejected the re-nomination of incumbent Republican Senator Bob Bennett for not being sufficiently and radically conservative, despite Bennett’s recent published paean to the Book of Mormon.

Brooks also refers to the following from the Daily Herald in Utah Valley: Parents accuse BYU, Alpine district of socialist conspiracy

Brooks:

For Mormons including Tea Party media powerhouse Glenn Beck (who consistently uses unmarked Mormon rhetoric in his national broadcasts), the U.S. Constitution is a religious matter. 

It would be interesting – if such a poll were possible – as to what percentage of Mormons are assuming that the presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney was/is directly connected to the prophecy.

Sam Keen has described myth as referring to

 "an intricate set of interlocking stories, rituals, rites and customs that inform and give the pivotal sense of meaning and direction to a person, family, community or culture.

The myths we carry around inside include unspoken consensus, the habitual way of seeing things, unquestioned assumptions, and our 'automatic stance'."

A society dominated by myth and tradition lives on its own unconscious conspiracy to consider a myth the truth, the way things really are. 

Such could be said about the majority of citizens within the LDS sphere of influence; persons who are literal without thinking; men and women who are not critical or reflective about the guiding "truths" - myths - of their own group.

As Keen implies,

“To a tourist in a strange land, an anthropologist studying a tribe, or a psychologist observing a patient, the myth is obvious.

But to the person who lives within the mythic horizon, it is nearly invisible."

 

 

 

 

    • Joanna Brooks grew up in a conservative Mormon home in the orange groves of Orange County, California. Now, she's an award winning American religion scholar and writer.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

“It is sometimes really funny to hear some solemn, ponderous parson trying to pretend that there is no humor in Christ's words”

Me and God frown whenever you tempt us to laugh!
Stuck in their assumption that if the Bible is literal, inerrant, absolute, unchanging and possessed of only one true interpretation, those who lead believing Christian soldiers onward cannot maintain troop discipline if humor is allowed to flourish.
 
Get your search engine to look for Christianity, God, humor, soberness, solemnity, etc. and you will find (I promise you) serious and earnest sermons and essays on the evil of laughter.
 
They may appear extreme and apologists may try to dismiss them as such, but you will find writings and sermons openly critical and condemning of popular Christian writers, speakers and pastors who use and even worse - praise - humor as part of a “godly attribute.”
 
This sort of thinking represents one powerful aspect of why it has been said that a genuine fundamentalist Christian sense of humor is an oxymoron.
 
The blend of this humorless aspect of those fundamentalist-literalist political leaders and preachers was never more aptly portrayed than when former Senator Alan Simpson (R-Wyoming) went after comedian Bill Maher on Maher’s HBO show, “Real Time,” within a day or two of G.W. Bush's reelection in November, 2004.
 
Simpson did not quote the following verse nor probably even have it in mind, but it reflects the post-election sense of smug vindication heard over and over again from prime Christian political movers and shakers and millions of offended Christians in congregations all over the country:
 
"Has God indeed said...Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep." (Luke 6:25)
 
How to raise a child blind to the real world,
blind to his own spiritual personality and
pretend in a mythological world where God has no sense of humor and frowns upon laughing (no pun intended):
 
I found a sermon complete with an outline entitled “The Christian Duty to Be Sober”. (And it’s not about abstinence from alcohol.)
“ We control our minds by thinking on right things,” which teaches perhaps that life is not about spontaneity but rather a life of struggling to control:
We must have self-control to be saved--we must be sober. We do this by...
1) Controlling our Minds
2) Correctly Using Our Bodies.
3) And thus, Nurturing Our Spirits!
... 5. Have you been living soberly?
1)If you are a Christian and have not, then you need to repent.
2)If you are not a Christian, then you need to learn about your own salvation.
3)Hear, believe, repent, confess, be baptized.” - Preachers Files.
***
When Jesus spoke in praise of the lilies of the field he was praising their spontaneity, their absolute faith and trust that God would bless them abundantly precisely where they were growing.
 
Furthermore - and I’ve made this analogy before - Jesus did not imply that the lilies should all strive to grow together in some single sacred part of the meadow,
 
... concern themselves with conformity as to where to stand so as to get the greatest dose of sunlight, rain and where they can grow “weed-free”,
 
... nor worry about how all the lilies scattered about the meadow were not going to have the same success in life the conformity-minded lilies had dogmatized.
***
“Vigilance and sobriety are essential for us if we would please our Master.
... [the]opposite of sobriety then would be carelessness, silliness or recklessness. Lack of sobriety is a real danger for those who, in their joy for the things of God, give themselves over to emotionalism with reckless abandon.
These lighthearted also often give themselves up to jesting and joking, activities which would be excluded from the activities of the sober minded, who would rather take the things of life more seriously than revel carelessly in the lion's presence.
God exhorts men and women both to be sober and to teach sobriety to others:
'But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: that the aged men be sober... the aged women likewise... that they may teach the young women to be sober... Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.'
... The vigilant Christian is the one who is on the lookout for the enemies of his spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being. Often in the church perhaps we feel free from danger, but it is here that our adversary is at his deadliest.
In light of our spiritual warfare, sobriety and vigilance are especially vital for Christian success in the constant struggle with sin, self, and Satan. When is it that we can drop our guard? It is when the pearly gates of our eternal home are opened for us and not 'till then.
If we drop our vigilance before the time, it is then that we invite trouble from our enemies. It is not that any of God's children are in any eternal peril, but we may be seriously confounded and dismayed in our walks if we are careless. - ableever.net
***
These are the “lilies” who pretend to have figured it out for the rest of humanity.
These are the “lilies” who have belittled a part of our humanity that was placed within us by God and are ignorantly and foolishly implying that our natural instinct to see humor and bust out laughing is in fact an evil seed.
 
If an evil seed, it was either planted by God at our creation or allowed by God as a permanent handicap going back to the expulsion from Eden. If Eden were the cause, then why would such spontaneity still be in existence at the time of Christ and why would Christ praise that spontaneity?
 
As an example, Jesus commenting about the blind leading the blind with both falling into a ditch was something that - in the vernacular and idiomatic language of his culture - could easily have been a point of humor.
 
2000 years later we are not experts at what sort of verbal humor - or satire - cause those early Jews to bust out laughing; that is unless we assume that they had no sense of humor.
 
But then to do so we would actually have to acknowledge that we are making and acknowledging an assumption. However acknowledging that a specific meaning of a specific Bible verse is assumption is an act that absolute insistence on an inerrant Bible forbids.
***
“In light of our spiritual warfare, sobriety and vigilance are especially vital for Christian success in the constant struggle with sin, self, and Satan.“

"""

Thus follows the fate I bring upon my own children if, as a believer in inerrancy and absolute single-meaning of Biblical preaching and verses, I train them from childhood with the imposition of the following imagined reality:

Here’s how it might sound if I were to try to teach my children about Old Wrathful, the unsmiling god.

Kids, the world is a dangerous place.

I can’t tell you why God made it that way but He did and the path is hard, cruel, dangerous and strictly unforgiving if you should make a misstep and then don't feel guilty and repent.

You can’t see it, but all around you in the spiritual world (it’s the world where God, Jesus and Satan dwell) there’s a war going on. In that world, it’s a war just as mean as the war you see on TV, as the video games where you can pretend to shoot and kill people and just like the movies about war, drugs and sex.

Sometimes, when we least expect it, that war gets too powerful and that causes God, Jesus and Satan to have to reach across the spirit boundary and try to get more of us human beings on their side. God and Jesus try to get our help by sending us wise preachers who will tell us all we ever need to know about righteousness and spiritual warfare.

Satan, on the other hand, sneaks up on us when we least expect it and tries to trick us into doing things that make bigger bombs that explode for him in the spirit world.

God and Jesus will be easy to help because all you have to do is go to church, listen to what the wiser adults tell you and don’t ever disagree with them.

But it will be easy for Satan to get your help because he will trick you into doing bad things that hurt God’s feelings and break God’s rules. When you do that, you set off bigger bombs for Satan in the spiritual warfare world.

Now remember that God and Jesus are tougher than Satan in that spirit war but victory really depends on how many righteous bombs or sin bombs get sent into the spirit world by what we do here.

I don’t know why it’s so easy for Satan to trick us to launch sin missiles in the spirit war, but it is easy for him. In fact, if you listen to the wise guys who do the preaching stuff here, they will tell you exactly how.

That’s why everyone at church is so serious. This is scary stuff and we don’t laugh about any of it.

But you ask, If God is tougher, why are things easier for Satan here?

I don’t rightly know. But the wise preachers will tell you that all earthlings have a path to walk that is like walking along a very narrow trail in the jungle where you don’t dare step off, even if there are lilies and other flowers you want to smell. They tell you that you must not look, must not stop and have to keep marching - and make sure you keep all those on the path with you in the line because it’s also your job to be a trail sheriff.

So just like you might be afraid that there are snakes under your bed at night when the room is dark and you’re worried about something, you need to be afraid - be very afraid - and vigilant your whole life that you don’t fall asleep and let the snakes climb up into bed with you.

If you think a funny thought, you will make a path from under your bed to right under your pillow.

So don’t think funny thoughts. It’s really a tough world kids. I’ve been a warrior for God now for 40 years and I’ve got scars that you all will get. Like me, you should grow up afraid, constantly on the watch for evil and ready to have God’s tattletale angels make note of your every mistake, no matter how tiny.

Like me, you may wind up with all the things that happen to people who grow up being vigilant and afraid. You might have high blood pressure, a short temper and not be willing to tolerate anybody who disagrees with you about the truth of what the wise preachers have taught you all their lives.

And above all, laughing is a sin. It’s evil, kids, and every time you feel a smile is going to get away from you and burst into a chuckle, remember, God is watching you and the angels are taking notes.

***

Or, as another literalist put it:

“The children of God must be sober in their opinions; hold nothing but what a sober man would hold. 
Error, as Saint Basil says, is a spiritual intoxication, a kind of frenzy. If Christ were upon the earth again, he might have patients enough. There are abundance of spiritual lunatics among us which need healing.
Let a child of God look at his face every morning in the glass of God's Word and see his sinful spots. This will make him walk humbly all the day after. 
God cannot endure to see his children grow proud. He suffers them to fall into sin, as he did Peter, that their plumes may fall, and that they may learn to go on lower ground. ” - fivesolas.com
***
Joy Versus Jokes?
“Does the Bible teach that reverence of the Lord is to be the prevailing attitude of church leaders and teachers when His church assembles?
Are believers to be serious about the things of the Lord?
The Word of God clearly teaches that seriousness and reverence are to be the main components of the countenance of church leaders.
Tragically, church leaders are instead acting like secular comedians and Hollywood "show" personalities.
The "just kidding around", bafoon (sp) type of man is the newly emerging personality type of the new, young church leaders in the evangelical, Pentecostal and fundamentalist church.
Laughter is not joy, and humor is not of the Lord. The confusion on this important distinction is both enormous and extremely misleading and damaging, for it portrays God as something He is not.
Joy flows from love, which produces peace. This is a beautiful picture of someone walking in the Spirit, and whose source of strength for producing the fruit is a vibrant and real relationship with Jesus Christ.
"Laughter" and "Joy" are Not Biblical Partners
Perhaps this article will bring more wrath than any other on this web site, since it exposes one of the most popular, beloved and widely accepted falsehoods in the church.
However, what is more damaging than the overt laughing prophets and prophetesses criss-crossing the country, is the fact that your local church leaders are more than likely ensnared by the falsehoods in this article.
I see young men taking the spiritual title of authority "Pastor" quite frequently, who seem to feel like they must mirror the world's comedians when addressing the church.
... the next week, the President/Pastor's sidekick, a Vice President/Pastor, felt the need to use Frank Sinatra's words to get the people to laugh. How utterly tragic. And the leaders of the church wonder why the Spirit is not working to change people's lives. "Oh, lighten up…"
If you are a member of a church whose leaders are ensnared in the flesh on this point of worldly humor, then I exhort you to make a copy of this article and share it with those leaders.
... This issue, I think, is so deeply embedded in this lost culture, and therefore in the worldly church, that it will take a miracle of God to bring people to repentance over it.
But take heart, our precious and mighty Lord is in the practice of working miracles!
If you are a church leader reading this article and you regularly, as part of your normal countenance, use humor and joking around, then I urge you to repent and acknowledge the truth of God's Word presented in this article.
‘When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.’ (1 Cor. 13:11). - John14-6.org

***

Really? God’s sense of humor is just like Pat Robertson’s or James Donson’s?

Well, here’s an opposite opinion that suggests Jesus could kid with the best of them, … humor in a language few American evangelicals ever studied.

It is sometimes really funny to hear some solemn, ponderous parson trying to pretend that there is no humor in Christ's words, and reading the story of the man who choked at a fly and swallowed a camel,
or of the man who put his lamp under the bed instead of on the lamp stand, 
or of the man who couldn't come to a feast because he had married a wife, 

and so on-with a score of other illustrations one could give - as if the words "Here beginneth the first lesson" must necessarily precede some solemn exhortation from which all humor must be rigorously excluded." - shelovesgod.com

***

But ... as my alter ego (icon), Reverend Duminyun, would say:
“Madam, you will burn in hell for making light of that!”

Broadcasters and pundits don’t have time to discuss serious policy issues. Civil war stuff is what sells the laxatives and erection medicine!

Civil War!

Now that’s the stuff that raises eyebrows and catches the attention of … well who?

Media conservatives attack critics of Arizona immigration law by invoking idea of civil war

So … are these thoughtful Konservative Kommando faux intellectuals suggesting some sort of north/south, conservative/liberal, whites/non-white, capitalists/socialists conflict as the single most important problem facing this country?

Or is the focus still an unreasonable fear of an exaggerated invasion of armed and dangerous platoons of illegal aliens?

According to some of the urban stories that I’ve read, it seems that all along the American Mexican border hundreds of platoons of modern day bandido-types armed and loaded with drugs and criminal minds are assaulting every weak spot on our borders. (Apparently few if any are on horses like Pancho Villa rode when he was just plain raiding the ranches 100 years ago.)

No, according the some brother-in-law of a cousin who’s aunt was married to the grandfather of a retired border patrol agent, these new enemies are entirely and without exception criminals, robbers, murderers, rapists, etc. etc. etc. - apparently dragging their reluctant women and children along as unwilling aiders and abeters in this criminal assault.

It seems to reflect a willingness among the gullible to believe in some kind of deliberate act out of Mexico not unlike the Castro government releasing its criminals from prison and forcing them out of Cuba and in the direction of Florida.

Now I know there are dangerous places along the border. I used to missionary in El Paso and sneak into Juarez (sorry president McKay) – something you could not today force me to do for love nor money.

But all along the border?

So … having read these assumedly truthful rumors, I’ve done some undercover work in my own community which is home to a large number of human beings who might be considered “suspicious” if they walked  the streets of Tucson wearing only their oyster-opening clothes. And boy would they smell like something unfamiliar in dry desert.

In assessing my list of non-white acquaintances without the help of an official Arizona- State-Suspicious-Alien-detector chart, I so far  haven’t detected many robbers, murderers, rapists, etc. among my hard-working circle of non-white friends … but you never know. 

Their children – more of whom will graduate from high school this year than the same proportion among the pure-white families, should be suspect.

There are many young children among them who call me “abuelo,” but I’m not falling for that … criminal minds can be indoctrinated at very young ages you know.

For all my paranoid white mind knows, those kids could be wearing those old over-the-shoulder ammo belts under their rain coats – belts you can still see in the old Hollywood border westerns.

This new civil war fear got me to thinking about other folks, not the nefarious non-whites, but whites among whom we have in this country a similar if not more horrendous criminality. 

In the early 1990’s, flush with the foreign policy triumphs for whom the sole credit supposedly belongs to his predecessor, the first Bush president authorized the entry and acceptance of refugees from the old Soviet Union.

Among them came those who also belonged to what the TV programs today portray as the Russian Mafia in this country. Many of those particular criminal minds arrived here wearing the cloak of Christianity – hiding among  Russian refugees fleeing godless persecution from the atheist communist government.

As a Russian interpreter in my state agency, I met these families, became their case worker and got to know many families quite intimately. In those jubilant and trusting families I perceived the same earnest and opportunistic belief in the American Dream in locales mostly along the I-5 corridor the same belief that is alive and well today among the Hispanic families here in Pacific County.

But a few Russian immigrants – as I said – only pretended to be believers as a way of getting out of the Soviet Union at a time when the getting our was still difficult.

As a contractor, I also performed Russian interpreting services for city and county police in Vancouver, interrogations in the middle of the night, court testimony, etc.,  and got to see first hand the sort of criminality – but this time from legal white aliens - that has the underwear of today’s propagandizing Konservative Koir in a bunch.

NO,  I’m not trying to pull a Sheriff-Arapaio attack on innocent Russian families.

But how would you profile a suspicious-looking white possibly illegal immigrant in Tucson?

What draconian Constitution-cracking law could your panicked  mind construct to protect the community from an equally evil white criminal menace?

And what sort of civil war talk would that generate from all those “non-racist” white faces on Fox News and talk radio?

Who’s to blame for all the difficult times we’re having?

And how is it that so much energy is expended chasing the wrong problem (well the right problem for those who would climb back into the driver’s seat)?

With the end of unemployment extensions, Pacific and Grays Harbor Counties are about to move into a more serious economic circumstance. The estimate is 2000 families in a community whose total population is less than 100,000 about to lose their only source of income.

Can’t blame the Mexicans for that.

The bulk of those unemployed were laid off by timber-related industries. The economic loss of those unemployment checks has reduced cash in both counties from upward of 10 million monthly to less than 5 million.

Many of those families, bereft of their savings, unemployment and help from relatives possibly equally distressed, will come to my office where the only cash benefit left to them remains. ($661 per month for a family of 4)

More businesses will fail … more will be newly laid off and the vicious cycle will continue until the economy changes.

The culprits are not the illegal aliens.

Naw … you start with banks, bankers, and Wall  Street.

Then of course you include big business - in these counties – Weyerhaeuser, who owns more land here than any private ownership of property.

You can’t blame the Mexicans for what ails all of us economically.

Our crisis is home-grown. We didn’t need any outside help to do this.

If a civil war comes, it most likely will be “have’s” versus the “have-nots”, regardless of color and origin.

Those too lazy all along to participate in a civic manner

… those content to let talk radio and Fox News issue the correct opinions to its loyal listeners

… will have it coming.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

“… it is not license to go about tearing down religious attitudes in others.”

As I began to dissent against and challenge the reality of Mormon religious dogma, one of the admonishments I received was that I should refrain from questioning the LDS version of a gospel of Christ. By questioning, I might be influencing others of less spiritual strength and causing them to lose their faith.

This never made sense to me as my own spiritual strength was something given me from God, not loaned to me by someone else inside or outside any church.

The idea that I have power in and of myself to overrule God's influence in the life of someone else seemed like a belittling of God.

As persons of faith, perhaps our faith is most tested when we are tempted to not trust God's processes. Like overbearing and over-protective parents, do we hover around someone else thinking we know more about what is spiritually best for them than God?

Are we then failing to trust that God is at the helm?

This is not license to move about testing God by presuming to speak for Him and insert ourselves in between God and another soul. It also is not license to willfully decry the spirituality of anyone else as not equal to our own - AND - if we are not persons of faith, it is not license to go about tearing down religious attitudes in others.

For if we are not persons of faith, then why would we struggle to attack something we ourselves do not believe exists?

There are many Christians who are quite content to live in the simplest arenas of belief - who feel no need for deeper spiritual and mystical experience and have no hunger to come any closer to God than they are right now.

There are others who are so secure and established in a fixed and unchanging spiritual mode, that they truly are afraid of really exploring and testing what they really believe. In some cases, people like this will be critical if they encounter explorers, questioners and testers who are on a quest to come to know God as God knows them - in a highly personal and spiritual context.

Traditional formulas full of shoulds and should nots are like paved roads. There is much to see from the road, but you never know what meadows and mountains exist if you do not step off the road and make your own trail into a wilderness of opportunity.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A History Lesson: Where are the “Good Christians” today?

 

Among practicing Christians the most commonly or unanimously understood declaration is Roman Catholicism’s claim as the original and only true Christian religion on the face of the earth. The Roman claim to exclusivity is based on the bible verse in which Jesus verbally anoints Apostle Peter as the rock upon which he - Jesus - will found the one true church.

The original Roman Catholic position of being the church founded by Jesus and extended through history by apostolic succession has been an unconscious assumption on the part of Catholic families worldwide for more than 2000 years.

One worldwide film celebrity, Mel Gibson, gave us a typical demonstration of how his own absolute and literal thinking are reflected in his entire perception of life. Gibson openly declared during interviews involving his film, The Passion of the Christ, that his wife - an Episcopal and certainly a better person than Mel himself - is still included with all non-Catholics who are going to hell.

Such thinking diminished the magnificence and power of his current film portrayal, reducing it in effect to Mel’s own public worship of Jesus Christ from his traditional and intense fundamentalist/literalist perspective.

Non-Catholics moved to re-think their lives and spiritual attitude seem then to be relegated to mere moral and ethical improvement since, according to Roman church literalists – apparently including Pope Benedict - the ultimate achievement of the Christ – universal salvation - remains exclusively in the proprietary purview of the Roman Catholic Church. This is something the current pope has also be re-asserting.

Protestant literalists have no claim on being a superior form of faith-based belief however. These Christian literalists dispute the Roman claim to authoritarian exclusivity although they make no challenges to the Roman literalism regarding ultimate spiritual truth as contained in an inerrant Bible. Such thinking captures all literalist Christians within a proprietary dispute over whose literal interpretation of scripture authorizes the absolute claims of either/or inclusion or exclusion.

These literalists have been engaged for centuries in a continuing conflict with liberal-minded Christians who have advocated, in addition to scripture, prayer and tradition, the practice of reason.

This historical debate over authority and who God loves the most continues today …

Part of that history includes torture and torment administered by historical religious authorities who made no bones about doing it all literally in the name of Christ. That particular silliness of thought that was manifested most recently by the blustering “Blow them away in the name of the Lord,” exhortation of one of Evangelical Christianity’s more prominent celebrities – the late Reverend Jerry Falwell.

Yet there is very little difference Falwell’s incredible stretch of pretended Christian compassion and the exclusivist view of folks like Franklin Graham.

The literalist Christian, seems guided by explicit and direct biblical verbiage that supposedly commands and instructs every aspect of human morality and behavior. And such a believer remains the Christian practitioner most blinded by assumption.

A literalist Christian - consciously or otherwise - bases his thinking and action on his and others’ assumptions of who God is, what God is like, who Jesus is and what Jesus meant in his messages.

Quick to criticize those who openly recognize and admit that they are reluctant to make absolute bricks out of strawed-down assumptions, literalists assume a God and Christ neither attractive nor benevolent - merely judgmental to a fault and obsessed with every nuance of human intimacy.

Those strawed-down assumptions were used to create evil bricks of arrogant authority upon which dungeons of coercion, persecution, torture and bonfires of outright murder and war were the terrible consequence.

Professed Christians carried out the most egregious crimes conceivable in the name of a Christ who would have repudiated every moment of every crusade and inquisitive interrogation.

I suggest that the “entertainment”  most needed in this country in these fateful years of Christian apathy and blind conformity is another “Passion of the Christ” sort of capture of the imagination of church-going minions sitting with a Bible in one hand and a box of Junior Mints in the other. We need those creative gifts of film-makers who were recognized and honored for films on the Holocaust, the Passion of Christ, even the Alamo.

What every Christian needs to become more aware of is a visual and visceral literality of actual suffering of those “other” Christian martyrs murdered by a victorious Christian sub-group whose principal authorization was that granted by the 4th Century might of the Roman Empire.

This extremely lucky group of believers who were chosen by Constantine to become a state religion backed by military might found itself the Roman-approved-and-designated true church; subject of course to periodic eligibility reviews by the emperor himself.

These “winners” ultimately focused on the literalist legend propagated by Constantine and Nicene clerics terrified of big C’s every violent whim.

Once empowered, they then turned on their fellow Christians - all those who refused to buy into the literalist legend born out of political expediency of a desperate dying military hegemony.

What happened next was the murder of Good Christians by other Christians who - by their own fruits - were ultimately revealed as the legitimate enemies of God and no friends of Christ. With that terrible Inquisition they revealed themselves as savage and ruthless self-interested verbal equivocators who worshipped earthly power and security far more than seeking treasures in heaven.

These were clerical cowards had no faith in God.

For had there been faith, the robe-wearing inquisitors would never have had doubts that God could manage his kingdom and - if God were so inclined - deal with heretics without the interference of arrogant defenders of the faith who would not have recognized a revealed or resurrected face of Christ Himself.

Southern France during the Crusades ...

Home of Bons Chretians - Good Christians - who made no claim to exclusivity nor paraded any kind of costumed pontificating arrogance designed to awe the ignorant and enhance personal power over the individual lives of believers.

They considered themselves practicing “Good Christians,” not a politburo of religious thugs dominated by a self-interested Pope who was empowered to launch Crusade after Crusade and who spoke words of condemnation and death all the while pretending they came from God.

Watching that kind of revelatory film in an air-conditioned comfort, oh that  we could all drink our Pepsi’s and munch our peanuts while falling under the hypnotic spell of Hollywood’s greatest tale-weavers.

A movie if you please about Roman Catholic Christianity‘s declaration of war upon its own kindred.

I refer to the Albigensian Crusade that did not take place in the Middle East where devout cross-wearing professional killers slaughtered mercilessly men, women and children while trying to take back cities and relics in the name of someone who never did nor ever would authorize violence in His name.:

Albigensian is one word used to describe Christian believers and the so-called heretics who ministered to them. They were also known as Cathari (Cathars).

In a very short time, they had transformed most of Southern France into something more resembling the ideals preached in Catholic churches, monasteries and cathedrals all over Europe.

A Cathar priest was known as a “Perfect” (in French, Parfait) and these priests were quite obviously much more effective in building communities of faith than was the Roman Catholic empire. That was the empire with the thousand-year head start and whose principal tools of teaching the common people about Jesus involved the use of fear, shame, guilt and extortion . .. this included a base manipulations using a bible withheld from all but the priesthood.

The crime of the Cathari?

A spiritual alternative of substance; one that more closely resembled the stories about the wonder and wisdom of Jesus many of which the Catholic clerics themselves shared with the peasants.

It was Christianity, only a version that did not exploit the people nor tax them nor play upon their fears of a mindless and judgmental God who had somehow forced them into subservience to an openly arrogant and greedy priesthood.

It was a Christianity of trust without spiritual extortion.

It was …. well, read for yourself.

"The Albigensian Crusade and the Inquisition in Languedoc
had established one dark, immutable axiom: To dedicate one’s life to a Christian creed outside the bounds of medieval orthodoxy was a capital crime.

Only those who renounced the Cathar creed would be spared the flames of ecclesiastical justice.

"Bertrand Marty and his 200 companions had a fortnight to think
over their stark choice: recant or burn. Not one of the Perfect came forward to beg mercy of Archbishop Amiel. They parceled out their meager belongings among their neighbors on the mountaintop and comforted their weeping relatives.

"As their time left on Earth dwindled each passing day, the men and
women of the dualist faith steeled themselves for an awful death.

From atop the walls of Montsegur, the archbishop’s men could be seen at work in a field far below, stacking a large enclosure with dry wood scavenged from the surrounding forests.

"On Sunday, March 13, ten days into the two-week wait,
twenty-one credentes approached the Perfect and asked to be given the
consolamentum. They too were willing to brave the fire. It was the most eloquent moment in the whole sad saga of Catharism, a testament to the devotion inspired by the holy men and women whose preaching had convulsed an era.

"Now, as they were on the threshold of death, twenty-one people stepped forward to join them. It was an act of defiance, solidarity, courage, and, in the end, faith.

These companions of the last hour came from all stations of feudal society.
Raymond of Pereille’s wife, Corba, and daughter, Esclarmonde, decided to leave their noble families for the timeless embrace of the Good.

With them went four knights, six soldiers (two with their wives), two messengers, one squire, one crossbowman, one merchant, one peasant woman, and one lady.

"The Perfect of Montsegur administered the consolamentum to all of them and welcomed them into their ranks.

They had three days of life remaining.

"The lugubrious procession of March 16, 1244, began in the early morning. It wound down the sinuous track leading from the summit to a clearing at the base of the hill.

The 220 or so condemned walked past the last patches of snow on the brown winter grass until they reached a palisade of logs.

Friend and enemy looked on.

"The leaders of the Cathar faith, barefoot and clad only in coarse robes, climbed the ladders propped up against the wooden walls. Groups of them
were lashed together, their backs to the tall stakes sticking up from the
colossal bier.

At a sign from the archbishop, his men threw burning brands into
the enclosure.

"The low murmur of prayers was overtaken by the crackling
sound of flame, spreading underfoot, curing the first of the fiery twigs and
setting the hems of garments alight. Within minutes, the crackling had become one great oceanic roar.

"By midmorning, a choking black nimbus billowed through the ravines and valleys leading from Montsegur.

Shepherds on nearby hills would have seen it rise slowly, heavy with the stench of fear and pain and man’s inhumanity to God.

The wind took the cloud and, as it had done so long ago at Beziers, lifted it high into the skies of Languedoc. The particles of smoke drifted and dispersed, then disappeared."

Stephen O’Shea- The Perfect Heresy

"Amaury responded to the question: ‘How shall we tell who are the
heretics?’ with his now infamous answer that undoubtedly expressed the spirit of the Albigensian Crusade.

‘Kill them all, the Lord will know his own.’"

Tobias Churton- The Gnostics

It is time to more seriously and openly question the authenticity of literalist Christian historical accounts. If we do not, we will never move to what the Cathari and others demonstrated as the real practice of a spirituality of love and compassion.

Literal thinking and a dogmatic insistence on an inerrant Bible never has and will never serve this generation and those to come in an efficacious way.

The greatest handicap of literal fundamentalists is their obstinate insistence on continuing to revere history at the cost of a diminished future – in effect attempting to drive forward while looking out the rear window.

We don't talk politics and religion with each other ... why the hell not?

One of our cultural clich├ęs oft-quoted is that we do not bring politics and religion into discussion when friends and family get together.

Why is that?

Is the implication that these topics invariably lead to disagreement and by extension serious disharmony?

Families should NEVER discuss politics and religion? If we do not, who should conduct that discourse for us?

Are we left then with having our only sources of information on politics and religion be those outside our circle of friends, the family culture to which we belong and the personal religious climate in which we live?

Must we form our religious and political opinions from someone else’s magic – someone else whom we assume is more knowledgeable, more spiritual or more “right on the money?”

Here we are stuck with partisan politics and partisan religion driving much of our national political disagreements. Some of our deepest personal convictions continue to be touched as we live in what has become an extremely confrontative and hostile national debate over policy and moral values.

One political perspective has consistently - if at times hypocritically - portrayed itself as standing for high moral value with emphasis on the family, on the sanctity of life, on all the things that Christian believers treasure most.

But it has also used the label "evil doers" quite freely and the label seems to be running loosely in more directions than just toward international terrorists.

Without defending one side against the other, I perceive that many in this country are guided by someone else's magic when it comes to things most treasured by believers.

Based on the mostly one-note talking point badgering of many who criticize the  current administration, are we to assume that the current leadership is somehow  against family values, the sanctity of life and, by extension, supportive of low morale values?

"Enemies of Christ or of God?"

Those labels have already been used by the extreme Christian Right as they've lobbied and campaigned around political issues.

Who really owns or monopolizes morality in this country?

Have we as a people relinquished our own personal authority to others with bigger and louder opinions who are justified in deciding for us what is moral?

... and who we should support?

If so, why have we done that?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Preparedness Calendar: 24 weeks of activities to get you disaster-prepared

 

I received this calendar at work. Source is Thurston County (Olympia) via DSHS

This calendar is intended as a tool to help you take appropriate preparedness actions and create a 3-7 day disaster supply kit for your household before the next emergency happens. Using the calendar, your family can assemble an emergency kit in small steps over a six month period. Check off each of the items you collect or the actions you take

Week 1

GROCERY Store

r        1 gallon water*

r        1 large can juice*

r        1 can meat*

r        1 hand-operated can opener

r        Permanent marking pen

Additional: pet food, diapers, baby food.

Action Steps:

r        Date perishable items with marker

r        Decide upon & notify out-of-area contact who can coordinate information for scattered family members.

-------------------------------------

Week 2

HARDWARE Store

r        Heavy cotton or hemp rope

r        Duct tape

r        2 flashlights with batteries

r        Matches in waterproof container for outside use ONLY with appropriate camp stove or BBQ

Additional: leash or carrier for your pet, extra set of I.D. tags

Action Steps:

r        Sign up for First Aid/CPR class

----------------------------------------------------

Week 3

GROCERY Store

r        1 gallon water*

r        1 can meat*

r        1 can fruit*

r        Feminine hygiene supplies

r        Paper & pen

r        Local map

r        Pain reliever

r        Laxative

Additional: 1 gallon water for each pet

Action Steps:

r        Find out about what kinds of disasters can happen in your area.

r        Encourage neighbors to develop their own plans.

-------------------------------------------------------

Week 4

HARDWARE Store

r        6-way laser flashing safety light

r        Compass

Additional: Medicines/prescriptions marked “for emergency use”, contact-lens supplies

Action Steps:

r        Develop a family disaster plan including where to meet if separated, name and number of out-of-area contact, kinds of information to give that contact in an emergency.

-------------------------------------------

Week 5

GROCERY Store

r        1 gallon water*

r        1 can fruit*

r        1 can vegetables*

r        1 can meat*

r        2 rolls toilet paper*

r        Extra toothbrush

r        Travel-size tooth paste

Additional: Special foods for special dietary needs

Action Steps:

r        Identify escape routes from house for all family members

r        Identify safe places to go in case of local disasters

r        Practice a drill for each of your plans

-------------------------------------------

Week 6

HARDWARE Store

r        First Aid Kit which includes sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes, adhesive tape, gauze pads, sterile roller bandages, latex gloves

r        Safety pins

r        Sunscreen

Action Steps:

r        Identify storage area for your supplies such as closet along an inside wall, or watertight plastic garbage cans that can be stored outside. If using outside storage, ensure container is also animal proof.

-------------------------------------------------

Week 7

GROCERY Store

r        1 can ready-to-eat soup (not concentrated)*

r        1 can fruit*

r        1 can vegetables*

r        Sewing kit

r        Disinfectant

Additional: Extra baby supplies (bottles, formula, diapers)

Action Steps:

r        Place a pair of sturdy shoes, flashlight, whistle and work gloves in a plastic grocery bag and tie the bag to your bed frame.

-------------------------------------------------------

Week 8

FIRST AID SUPPLIES

r        Scissors

r        Tweezers

r        Thermometer

r        Liquid hand soap

r        Disposable hand wipes

r        Petroleum jelly

r        2 tongue blades

Additional: Put extra eyeglasses in First Aid Kit

---------------------------------------------------------------

Week 9

GROCERY Store

r        1 can ready-to-eat soup (not concentrated)*

r        Liquid dish soap

r        Household chlorine bleach with medicine dropper for water treatment

r        1 box heavy duty garbage bags with ties

r        Antacid

Action Steps:

r        Test smoke detector and replace batteries

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Week 10

HARDWARE Store

r        Waterproof portable container for important papers

r        Battery powered or wind up radio

r        Wrench to turn off utilities

Action Steps:

r        Make sure that everyone in the house knows where to find gas and water meter shut-off valves and how to turn them off.

r        Attach a wrench near each shutoff valve so it is there when needed.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Week 11

GROCERY Store

r        1 large can juice*

r        Large plastic food bags

r        1 box high-energy snacks

r        3 rolls paper towels

Additional: Keep extra battery for cell phone or change for pay phone usage.

Action Steps:

r        Locate pay phones closest to your home.

------------------------------------------------------------------

Week 12

GROCERY Store or PET CARE Store

r        Litter and box

r        Extra water

Additional: Make sure all pet vaccinations are current and obtain medical records from veterinarian for disaster records kit. Keep emergency supply of any special pet medication needs.

Action Steps:

r        Photocopy important papers and store safely.

------------------------------------------------------------------

Week 13

Action Steps:

r        Add to emergency supplies a change of clothing and pair of shoes for each person in the family.

r        Put together a selection of favorite and most used spices- salt, pepper, sugar- in small packets.

r        Put aside utensils, cup, plate, and bowl for each person.

r        Check to be sure all perishables have been dated.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Week 14

HARDWARE Store

r        Whistle

r        Extra batteries for flashlights and radio

r        Pry bar

Action Steps:

r        Check with your children’s day care center or school about disaster plans and contacts

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Week 15

HARDWARE Store

r        Pliers

r        Screwdriver

r        Hammer

r        Strapping and fasteners for water heater, bookcases and computer

Action Steps:

r        Secure water heater, bookcases, computer and other heavy items that could fall in an earthquake

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Week 16

GROCERY Store

r        1 can fruit*

r        1 can meat*

r        1 can vegetables*

Action Steps:

r        Develop a disaster supply kit for your vehicles.

r        Find out if you have a neighborhood safety group and become involved.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Week 17

HARDWARE Store

r        “Child-proof” latches or fasteners for cupboards

r        Quakehold museum putty to secure moveable items on shelves

Action Steps:

r        Secure doors and moveable items

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Week 18

GROCERY Store

r        1 box graham crackers

r        Assorted plastic containers with lids.

r        Dry cereal

Additional: Special equipment such as hearing aid batteries

Action Steps:

r        Arrange for someone to help your children if you are unavailable or at work

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Week 19

FIRST AID SUPPLIES

r        Rubbing alcohol

r        Antidiarrheal medication

r        Antiseptic

Action Steps:

r        Secure sleeping bag or blanket for each family member

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Week 20

GROCERY Store

r        1 can meat*

r        1 can vegetables*

r        1 box facial tissues

r        1 box quick energy snacks

r        Dried fruits/nuts

Action Steps:

r        Assemble an activity box of cards, games, toys

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Week 21

HARDWARE Store

r        Plastic bucket with tight lid for toileting needs

r        Plastic sheeting

Additional: Denture care supplies

Action Steps:

r        Review insurance coverage with your agent to be sure your are covered for whatever events are possible in your area

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Week 22

GROCERY Store

r        1 box quick energy snacks

r        Comfort foods (candy bars, cookies, etc.)

r        Plastic wrap

r        Aluminum foil

Action Steps:

r        Purchase and install emergency escape ladder for upper floors.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Week 23

HARDWARE Store

r        Camping or utility knife

r        Work gloves

r        Safety goggles

r        Disposable dust mask*

Action Steps:

r        Photograph or videotape the contents of your home and send to an out of town friend to store

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Week 24

Action Steps:

r        Begin rotating water and food stores, replacing those purchased in week one.

r        Check that storage area is safe and dry.

r        Continue rotation each month so that fresh stores are always on hand.

Note: You should store 1-2 gallons of water per person for each day. This water is for consumption and sanitation. For this reason the calendar repeats the need to purchase water several times.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The famous Republican victory this fall? Remember who gets the credit for saying so

FoxNews, Squawk Hannity, Flush Limbaugh … America’s most admired and respected wise conservative thinkers political liars very much need for things to stay terrible in this country.

Otherwise who and what can they condemn?

Or who or what could they support as viable alternatives?

Economy showing signs of improvement. The only argument is “not fast enough” as if some Reflublican could have improved the economy faster.

Health care reform arguments are fading more rapidly every week. Regarding health care issues still close to page one are the self-serving and cruel antics of health care insurers, still looking for ways to not insure pre-existing conditions.

And where are those overdue death panels? Perhaps Sarah will tell those million teenagers on FaceBook if she knows.,

And how about those tea-baggers? You know! An entire movement stigmatized by nut cases picking on a citizen in a wheel chair and spitting on elected officials. So far all that seems to be occurring is tea-bagging as a badge moving closer and closer to the unreasonableness of the militias up in the hills just waiting for someone to shoot at.

Mining and oil drilling disasters are too obviously a consequence of corporate activity and oversight or lack thereof. Hard to pin those disasters on the Obama administration or Obama-era Congress both of whom are taking actions to address the problems and their perceived Republican perpetrators of those problems.

Then of course there’s the fact of all that money paid out to the Republicans-in-charge while the Wall Street and the Banks were robbing citizens, pillaging the institutions and looting the tax-payer piggy bank.

Pointing at Gaithner and Larry Summers is going to fade as the administration listens more to Volcker and Congress itself picks up the investigatory and accountability stick to smack the smackables.

Republicans, by resisting Wall Street and Banker reform and moving too slowly on drilling policy all the while that dang offshore black gold spigot handle is busted have not endeared themselves to a voting public where even the tea-baggers are impatient for change.

And finally this from the TPM article that prompts my optimism and speculations:

If the economy produces jobs over the next eight months at the same pace as it did over the past four months, the nation will have created more jobs in 2010 alone than it did over the entire eight years of George W. Bush's presidency.

Tea party calls to repeal the 17th Amendment – Republican conflicts of interest

Tea Party-Backed Repeal Of The 17th Amendment Gets Republicans Into Trouble

… a bridge too far for Republican candidates desperate to steal some of the movement's mojo. In the past couple weeks, at least two mainstream Republican candidates have found themselves walking back from pledges to support repealing the amendment, suggesting there's a limit to how much support the tea parties can provide.

The "Repeal The 17th" movement is a vocal part of the overall tea party structure. Supporters of the plan say that ending the public vote for Senators would give the states more power to protect their own interests in Washington (and of course, give all of us "more liberty" in the process.) As their process of "vetting" candidates, some tea party groups have required candidates to weigh in on the idea of repeal in questionnaires. And that's where the trouble starts.

So you think they are on to something?

Perhaps … how could you vote as a block for a national party if each state elected senators based on state expectations rather than party expectations?

This is an interesting twist. Is this tea party call an idea whose time has come? What sort of senator would a state drowning in debt and worker unemployment send to D.C. to be wooed by corporate opposition to wage and labor reform?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

economic crusade, inquisition, manipulation

Citizens who do not attend the official American Economic Church face manipulated ruination. This is part of the larger overall fraud of a religion that is the equal of Christianity among wealthier and corporate Americans.

Led by the ilk of economic theologies spewing forth from an assortment of corporate-sponsored think tanks and theoretical strategists of the Grover Norquist ilk, the economic theology of number-crunched corporate capitalism is as sterile and empty as the whited-sepulchre of literal Christianity's 'innerant and absolute Bible."

Both are fixed and inflexible ideologies built upon concepts and extrapolations now turned to stone. Neither take into account the most powerful force that always successfully resists mindless adherence to a fixed dogma ... human nature.

Much like the Pharisaic Falwells, Robertsons and LaHayes, these current self-appointed born-again purveyors of economic theory inevitably run into problems when human masses don't follow the playbook.

Just as many Christians have demonstrated that not all of us willingly live lives as blind followers of rigid Scribes and judgemental Pharisees, we all do not manage our economic lives according to some wise and proven dogma of capitalism.

And just like Christian history has demonstrated overwhelmingly the human capacity for unrighteous dominion, crusades, inquisitions and outright murder, economic history is replete with evidence of the human capacity for unrighteous economic dominion, economic crusade, inquisition, manipulation and in some cases the outright murder of citizens who did not attend the official economic church.

Moneyed corporate welfare capitalism lies behind the fraud of broadcast betrayal and tea-bagged pretended populist talking points - an action that betrays any notion that unrestricted free-market activity is driven by a natural desire of all participants for the highest good of all concerned.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Okay folks, do you think political stampeders assume you are gullible?

Bill O’Reilly absolutely despises Media Matters.

Why?

Well perhaps because Media Matters has no connection to Fox News
Or perhaps because Media Matters was founded by someone who used to be a big time stampeder of the gullible like Bill, Squawk Hannity and Flush Limbaugh. … someone who used to create stories, slants and angles out of words and actions of all non-Konservative Koir members ... mostly words and actions taken out of context.

Or perhaps because Media Matters fact-checks most of what comes out of Fox News, most of what Limbaugh, Hannity and crew say …

Well I suggest all of the above.  Call me a skeptic, call me partisan, call me any dang thing you want … but I’ve always tried to check the facts on what anyone tells me that piques my interest.

I’ve learned that Fox News wastes my time. The only time I watch it is as a captive audience in my doctor’s reception area.

Otherwise, when I want to know who is “making”(as in “making up”) the news I read my daily email from Media Matters.

Here are today's news items from Media Matters for America, click on the title or 'read more' to read the entirety of each story.

NRO, Fox Nation distort Daily Princetonian article to suggest Kagan supports socialism
National Review Online and the Fox Nation distorted a Daily Princetonian article in order to suggest Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's senior thesis shows that she supports socialism. Both NRO and the Fox Nation excerpted from the article but edited out statements from Kagan's thesis adviser disputing those claims.
Read More

Right-wing media refuse to admit that Kagan didn't "kick military recruiters" off campus
Right-wing media figures have stubbornly latched on to the falsehood that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan "banned military recruiters" from campus while she was dean of Harvard Law School. In fact, Harvard law students had access to military recruiters throughout Kagan's tenure as dean. Read More

Whelan pushes false comparison to paint Kagan as anti-military
Ed Whelan claimed that Elena Kagan excluded military recruiters "from the Harvard law school campus" and "treated military recruiters worse than she treated the high-powered law firms" that represented terror suspects. But this comparison is flawed because Kagan's military recruiting policy was guided by the school's decades-old anti-discrimination policy; moreover, students had access to military recruiters throughout Kagan's tenure as dean. Read More

Whelan distorts Kagan's SG record to claim that she is an ideologue
Ed Whelan baselessly claimed that, as Solicitor General, Elena Kagan has "indulged her own ideological views ... on gay rights" rather than defend federal law. In fact, neither of the cases Whelan cites support his claims that Kagan did not vigorously defend federal laws in court -- as the Solicitor General is required to do. Read More

Right-wing media target Kagan's physical appearance
Right-wing media figures have responded to Elena Kagan's nomination to be the fourth female Supreme Court justice in history by attacking her physical appearance.
Read More

On Fox, Bossie falsely suggests Kagan supports book banning
On Fox News, Citizens United president David Bossie falsely suggested that Solicitor General Elena Kagan argued in a Supreme Court case that "books could be banned." In fact, Kagan specifically stated that federal campaign finance law had never banned books and likely could not do so. Read More

REPORT: Kagan's legal experience comparable to Rehnquist, Thomas, Roberts
Right-wing media have claimed that Solicitor General Elena Kagan has insufficient experience to be a Supreme Court justice. In fact, Kagan's legal experience is comparable to that of several recent conservative justices at the time of their nominations: William Rehnquist, Clarence Thomas, and John Roberts. Read More

EXCLUSIVE: Harvard Law military recruitment not diminished by Kagan's tenure
Right-wing media figures have perpetuated the falsehood that Elena Kagan banned military recruiters from Harvard Law School during her tenure as dean. Not only did students have access to military recruiters throughout Kagan's tenure, Media Matters for America has learned that military recruitment did not drop as a result of Kagan's actions.
Read More

And finally REPORT: Kagan's Legal Experience Comparable To Rehnquist, Thomas, Roberts

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I’ll take social justice over moralizing and hiding behind the Bible every time.

 

"For activist leaders of the radical religious right, the Bible isn't so much a spiritual guide as an ammunitions storehouse. Verses are handpicked from here and there (carefully ignoring those scriptures that might get in the way of their own "godly" image and political ambitions) to justify whatever they want to do.
And since there are commands in various parts of the Bible to do terrible things that Jesus never condoned--like stoning your rebellious children to death, or stoning gay people, or killing everyone in an enemy's village except the young virginal girls...well clearly, there's something for everyone, no matter how cruel, no matter how vile.


… So how did Jesus get demoted, and why? A reading of the gospels will make that quickly apparent. The Sermon on the Mount alone is enough to rattle those who use the Bible to enforce their personal prejudices.

Jesus was a troublemaker in his days and in ours because he stood up for those who were reviled and persecuted by religious authorities under the banner of faith. He taught people the Good News: That they should see God as a compassionate, accepting parent to love, not as an angry, violent, punitive authority figure to fear."

-Dr. Teresa Whitehurst, How Would Jesus Raise Your Child?

Whether you see Jesus as the God-become-mortal or as one of the most powerful great teachers and sages in human history, one important question in this current time of religious controversy needs to be more seriously addressed.

As the "founder" of Christianity did Jesus intentionally establish or lay the groundwork for a formal organization from within which would evolve doctrine and dogma written in irrevocable heavenly granite?

Historical human propensity seems to have viewed the "civilization" of a society or culture in terms of formal construction of rigid rules, cultural mores and an insistence on blind but trusting conformity. Everyone must do what the "founders" have said and written - as if those founders sat around in some sort of marathon sessions out of which the documentation and authority of the group evolved.

Most religious human beings affiliated with a formal belief set within a culture or society tend to stand on the sort of documented and authorized orthodoxy that forever looks back for assurance rather than forward with hope.

Disagreement and/or disapproval of the behavior of fellow members, fellow citizens or outsiders then tends to find its basis in that backward looking framework of orthodoxy.

Concerns about "education" of children and proselytes to the culture have to do with instilling that which is limited to what can only be seen through the rear-view mirror upon which is based definitions of what is seen through the windshield as movement forward continues.

How best then to utilize scripture as a means of providing or enforcing the religious framework of definitions regarding anything in the present or future?

Insecurity in this regard is monstrous and tends to generate less courage and more cowardice, less boldness and more timidity, and less initiative and more laziness.

Religious laziness is the constantly demonstrated and ineffective mode of attempting to frame, adjust - and even correct the moral and ethical values in Christian-dominated America and - I suspect - around the globe in all fundamentalist/literalist religions.

Those who pretend to give us our moral instructions do so with their own subjective pretending that scripture was written once and only once - an inerrant and unchanging letter from God - who has said all that needs to be said, leaving us to divine for ourselves the meaning of scriptural words and phrases.

The audience for these pretended moral instructions are expected to likewise pretend the same thing about scripture and, in addition, pretend that these contemporary moral lawgivers are somehow more knowledgeable about religion, scripture and  "righteousness".

They are to be trusted because, when it comes down to it, they can cite verses verbatim and pretend to know the once-for-all-time and unchangeable meaning of those verses.

This is the lazy man's way to influence and authority - and wealth - if a career in broadcast pastoring is the aspiration.

This is also the lazy Christian parent's way to influence, authority and spiritual poverty if a career as a wise and successful rearing of children is the aspiration.

The Bible is first and foremost a spiritual document which contains within its pages a wisdom that must be obtained spiritually and never literally. It takes work to use scripture in that way. It takes a recognition that God as the strongest spiritual force in existence is something very much a part of reality in the here and now. It takes a recognition that every human individual not only has a "right" to on-going spiritual communion but a need and opportunity to enhance life on the basis of individual effort.

What has become obvious in American Society is the slide into laziness regarding the learning of the most basic concepts presented by Christ.

Whether admitted or not, many Christians - especially parents - have abdicated the need for teaching children to move beyond the black and whiteness of fundamentalist literalness and into teaching a means for perception and response to the actuality of contemporary societal life.

As a result, children reach maturity knowing very little of the most significant aspects of God and spirituality but armed with a limited but powerful list of  "do's and don'ts,"   "shoulds and shouldn'ts."

Driven by moral rhetoric against things non-Christian, I suspect that the literalist psychology comes into play with biblical passages about raising children "in the Lord" and the like.

Those swayed by the rhetoric might possibly have some sense that their child's relationship with anyone outside the family - at that tender toddling age - could somehow compete with the intimate harmony of the family in a home setting where spiritual brainwashing is so powerfully accomplished as a normal part of growing up.

Such a concern might be more legitimate as the children get older - say nearer the pre-pubescent junior-high-school ages when peer pressure mounts with terrifying rapidity.

In a home where a dissatisfied Christian conscience possibly acknowledges that the family life has not been "perfect" as idealized in every Christian congregation, the parents justifiably -in their heart of hearts - sense that forcing religion on children may not have been the best way.

Communicating religious dogma and doctrine is a hell of a lot easier than communicating a spiritual sense of ethical morality and doing good for the sake of goodness.

How many kids grow up in so-called Christian homes having reached a point of tuning out the preaching?

How many have grown up admiring their parents but struggling with a sense of quiet desperation in not living up to an unreasonable standard of "righteousness" that has made so many Christian celebrities rich and so many families torn?

Recently, as I have participated and contended with critics of a liberal Christian point of view, I have realized that the fortress of justification for that criticism is in reality a quite small edifice. It's walls of protection and the moat surrounding it are all constructed by a lazy insistence on the absolutely inerrant Bible.

Every day these literalists - especially the celebrity literalists such as Robertson, Dobson, Hagee and associates are challenged on their dogmatic declarations. Every day, it seems, someone somewhere publicly requests theological and scriptural justifications for actions and viewpoints that contradict the teachings of Christ.

To name a few:

Jim Wallis and his liberal Sojourners organization;

Mike Rivage-Seul, liberation theology activist

The 200+ prominent religious leaders who wrote an open letter entitled The Question of Torture: Open letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales ;

The United Methodist Church congregation in Dallas, Texas who openly published a resolution regarding the memberships of George Bush and Dick Cheney.

Sister Joan Chittister has called into question the hypocrisy of activism against abortion in America while at the same time supporting the killing of men, women (including pregnant mothers) and children in Iraq, Darfur and other places.

Bloggers and Internet editors have raised these same questions publicly and few if any of those challenged have tried to justify or reconcile actions, decisions and behavior with the teachings of Christ.

More and more, the disparity between Christian biblical literalists and liberals is widening. In a very real way, the two groups no longer have the Bible predominantly in common as was the case in the past.

Letter-of-the-law Christians find themselves stuck in a place where they can only defend their "truth" from within their walls and from their turrets of either-or.

The current political power base that has moved many Christians to the Right must sustain itself by somehow stopping the pendulum from swinging the other way as more and more the hypocrisy of Radical Christian reasoning becomes publically obvious.

When cornered, the lazy Christians can only throw the Book at critics. And unfortunately, regardless of pretending otherwise, the Book is not the exclusive property of any self-appointed select elite.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

“They think they’re the top dogs, and we’re a bunch of fire hydrants, you know?”

The wisest Texans of the pat 30 years were not the Bush brothers, or any Senators or Governors or the first Bush president.

With the passing of both Ann Richards (“Poor George! He can’t help it - he was born with a silver foot in his mouth!”) and Molly Ivins, Jim Hightower has became the funniest person in Texas politics -- intentionally, that is.

Michael Winship was senior writer of the weekly public affairs program, Bill Moyers Journal, which concluded last Friday night on PBS. Winship wrote this excellent piece on  Jim Hightower who was interviewed a week or two ago by Moyers.

My kind of kidder. Samples:

{Hightower at the Dem Convention 1980] described Bush Sr. as a “toothache of a man,” a cruel but remarkable metaphor. And he said that Bush behaved like someone who was “born on third base and thought he hit a triple . . . He is threatening to lead this country from tweedle-dum to tweedle-dumber.”

It was Jim, I believe, who came up with the notion that all elected officials be required to wear brightly colored, NASCAR-like jumpsuits with the corporate logos of their biggest campaign contributors, an idea I’ve heard appropriated by several others without proper attribution.

(On hearing that another politician was learning Spanish, Hightower is supposed to have remarked, “Oh good. Now he’ll be bi-ignorant.”)

As Hightower’s fond of saying, the water won’t clear up until we get the hogs out of the creek. ‘I see the central issue in politics to be the rise of corporate power … overwhelming, overweening corporate power that is running roughshod over the workaday people of the country. They think they’re the top dogs, and we’re a bunch of fire hydrants, you know?”

They’ve got the fat cats, but we’ve got the alley cats

“Even a Dead Fish Can Go with the Flow.”

Read The lowdown from Hightower
By Michael Winship Online Journal Guest Writer

Friday, May 7, 2010

"It brought the ugliness into clear focus"

Here we do not see the gospel of Jesus nor in any sense are these hypocrites the kind of Christian you would ever trust with care of your loved ones.

Nothing more to say here, go to the link below the quote and you figure it out.
"After concluding his own prayer, Redman asked Ahmed to come to the podium for “questions.” Redman then said, “I would like you to pray to your god for us.” By “for us,” he did not mean “on our behalf;” he actually meant “as a demonstration.” 
Ahmed stood in stunned silence while the audience erupted. Redman had to ask more than once for people to be quiet and the council president threatened to clear the room."

Pray to Your God For Us: Christians on Jacksonville City Council Stir Anti-Muslim Sentiments

Thursday, May 6, 2010

How many readers actually know what a Predator Drone is and does?

Why ... why ... do "they" hate us .... wouldn't you?

Whether listening to American politicians of any party or reading American history textbooks edited to propagandize, we get all that narcissistic swill about indomitable spirit, invincibility, courage and nobility of purpose

That's our political and civic drug of choice ... what we tell ourselves before we look away.

But that message falls on deaf ears abroad because actions speak louder than words ... as they always do.

From Common Dreams -Did You Hear the Joke About the Predator Drone That Bombed?
 “Somewhere in the United States, a drone operator sits in a booth with a joystick and commandeers a pilot-less aircraft armed with deadly bombs. 
Much like in a video game, he aims, shoots and fires at targets he sees on a satellite map….Sometimes the target is killed and sometimes the intelligence is faulty and a sleeping family or a wedding party bears the brunt of the miscalculation. 
At all times, however, the Taliban capitalize on the ensuing mayhem and gain new recruits and re-energize old ones. Terror thus spreads not simply in the village where the drone attack has taken place but far and wide in the bazaars of Peshawar and the streets of Lahore and the offices of Islamabad where these recruits avenge their anger against the drone attacks."
If one Predator Drone from another country flew here to knock out a military target and missed and hit one little old lady feeding pigeons in a park ... all the super patriots in all the taverns and churches would fill the streets ... new enlistments in the armed forces would triple ... more 2nd amendment types would be publicly packing ...

Our government would make no moves to stop any of this. 

With the financial crisis, Obama has called for a three-year freeze on domestic spending, leading to cuts in everything from nutrition programs to national parks. But the Defense Department is exempt from the freeze and in the case of drones, the money is pouring in. The U.S. Defense Appropriations FY2011 doubles the outlay for drones. The U.S. taxpayer will now spend a mind-boggling $2.2 billion for the procurement of Predator-class aircraft, thus guaranteeing the slaughter of innocents for many years to come.

How better if we simply gave up our obsession with showing off new age game-like lethal technology and acted like the grownup in the house rather than the childish imp.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

uh oh … another one caught with his pants down

From the “Do as I demand, not as I do!” department, this breaking story.

Shocked … totally shocked: anti-gay crusader caught with male prostitute

Nothing makes a public religious activist more influential in the wrong direction than when private hypocrisy sneaks out of the closet.

Take today’s news as an example. Leading anti-gay activist Dr. George A. Rekers, who sits on the board of the “ex-gay” outfit the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), and is a founder of the Family Research Council along with Dr. James Dobson, has been caught taking a male prostitute, whom he found on Rentboy.com, on a European vacation.

So, Dr. Rekers, what the heck is Rentboy.com? How did he find and rent “Lucien?”

Rekers would have had to search Rentboy.com thoroughly to find his “travel assistant” whom they’ve dubbed “Lucien:”


To arrive at Lucien’s site, Rekers must have accepted Rentboy.com’s terms of use, thereby acknowledging he was not offended by graphic sexual material. He then would have been transported to a front page covered with images of naked, tumescent men busily sodomizing each other.

Then Rekers must have performed a search. Did he want a “rentboy,” a “sugar daddy,” or a “masseur”? In what country? And what city? If Rekers searched for a rent boy in Miami, he would have found approximately 80 likely candidates. He must have scrolled down the first page, past the shirtless bears and desperate ex-models, and on to page 2. There, at last, was Lucien.

Dr. Rekers trots out the excuses faster than Larry Craig in a Minnesota bathroom

”I had surgery,” Rekers said, “and I can’t lift luggage. That’s why I hired him.” (Medical problems didn’t stop him from pushing the tottering baggage cart through MIA [airport].)

What? Nobody bought that? How about this …

It seems Rekers can’t keep his stories … well, straight. After no one seemed to buy those excuses, his latest one, to blogger Joe.My.God through Facebook, is that he simply hired Lucien so he could witness to him:

If you talk with my travel assistant that [sic] the story called “Lucien,” you will find I spent a great deal of time sharing scientific information on the desirability of abandoning homosexual intercourse, and I shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with him in great detail.

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