Thursday, December 31, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
The religious underpinnings of Xmas go back to Pagan origins with all sorts of festivities & emblems, many eventually incorporated into the modern celebration. (Click here for a link that discusses some of the Xmas emblems we have today. Click here for a brief history on the religious aspects that have blended together to comprise our modern celebration.) When someone passes along the God spam that talks about all the representations of X that are in the Xmas tree .... uh, no. Not true. Someone just made that up & passed it along. (Here's a reference that attempts to relate the seasonal emblems to Xianity, most of which are just bunk, since those emblems originated not with Xianity at all.)
We've all heard that the Roman festivals were eventually adapted into Xian celebrations under Constantine. True, Constantine needed the rising Xian population to fight his battles & the struggling Xians readily accepted the power that came from official endorsement. So the Pagan aspects became Xianized.
Through the middle ages, the Catholic Church expanded the Xmas celebration & other Pagan celebrations were assimilated.
Then came the Presbyterians. And the Puritans.
Finally, there came Cromwell.
The Presbyterians in Scotland & the Puritans (the same ones that came to America) completely rejected the celebration of Xmas. They called it a sinful & heretical idea that was nothing more than idolatry. In fact, Presbyterians in Scotland banned Xmas celebrations & those who observed the day were met with swift & severe punishment for their sins against God. (Link.) It wasn't until the 1950s that Scottish Presbyterians removed the ban.
Cromwell became Lord Protector of England & with his Puritan forces banned the festival of Xmas in 1645.
Those same Puritans came the New World to escape the persecution of the Anglican & Catholic church, both of which celebrated Xmas. So when they came to America, Xmas was made illegal, with penalties imposed by the judge & the church, usually one in the same. The nativity, in particular, was believed to be the gross sin of idolatry. (Link)
So for most of the Colonies, Xmas was spent in work, not worship. (Link.)
Xmas was celebrated in a few areas of Colonial America, mainly where the Catholics & Anglicans had strongholds. Still, those were small & only religious in nature & were kept to the church, never spilling over into the community at large. In fact, George Washington even attacked a group of Hessians on Xmas day since he knew they would still be hung over from their celebration & the Patriot troops didn't regard Xmas as anything special, rejecting both Papist & English tradition. Even Congress was in session on Xmas Day doing the day-to-day work as normal. To the Colonists, Xmas was just another day.(Link.)
Like the rest of the colonies, Xmas in GA wasn't a big deal. The Congregationalist missionaries among the Cherokees at New Echota didn't regard Xmas with any significance, though the Moravians did make quite the party. (Link.)
In 1819, Washington Irving wrote The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, gent., a collection of stories about the celebration of Xmas in an English manor house, that were based on "ancient customs." It was all made up, of course. But the idea began to take hold & gradually people began to have parties & give gifts to the kids. Even then, there was no relating the birth of X with the secular event. It as just a few parties & a few kids' gifts "like they do in England."(Link.)
Mostly Xmas was just a sparse religious event among the few Episcopalians & Catholics. There would be a few nativity scenes in the Catholic churches & a special mass, but that was it. Until the Civil War, the overwhelming majority of Americans didn't do anything special with Xmas, not even exchanging gifts or going to church.
The Civil War changed a lot of things & Xmas was no exception. More people in contact with each other meant learning new ideas. The idea of a winter party gained some acceptance & soon the thought of taking a winter break from the long hours in industrial plants swept the nation. In 1870, President US Grant made Xmas, Thanksgiving, 4th of July & New Year's Day official Federal holidays to accommodate family time, all completely secular & all without pay. (Link.) By 1893, all states & territories had followed suit & made Xmas a secular holiday. (Link.)
As Xmas became more practiced, the religious connotations emerged & by the 1890s, Xmas took on a uniquely Xian overtone in America. Still, there were two distinct celebrations: one religious & one secular, with all faiths & no faiths getting in on the parties.
It is interesting to note that prior to 1945, there are no Supreme Court cases regarding Xmas. None. It is not until after WW II ended & the erosion of Xian hegemony that people began to have disputes. After all, until the 1890s, Xmas wasn't even celebrated. During the next 50 years, the majority Xian faith adopted & adapted the Xmas season. Before long, those majority religious ideas were clashing with the secular ideas, other religious ideas & legal principles And that meant lawsuits. (Link to some legal info on Xmas.)
Today, Santa is the premier secular Xmas symbol, first appearing in 1821 & widely accepted by 1897 with the classic, Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. That did it. When kids expect presents, they get them & the modern secular Xmas was born. Today, Xmas begins a few days before Thanksgiving & lasts until the final college bowl game sometime after New Years. Of course, Xmas is celebrated all over the world in its secular form, in all nations & of all faiths. Yes, even in Muslim nations, the secular Xmas is celebrated.
The religious aspects of Xmas have certainly changed over the years. Xmas used to be viewed as sinful & something unholy by most Americans. Nativity scenes even 150 years ago -- would get you thrown in jail & kicked out of the church. Today, things are much different ... well, maybe not in some parts of the nation. Say anything about separation of church & state & ... whew.
No matter how one worships or chooses not to worship, it is entirely a matter of conscience & conviction, a right protected by the Constitution. Yet, we would be greatly amiss to say that our nation has always celebrated Xmas. That is false. Xmas celebration is a relatively new phenomenon, only having been around for roughly 110 years or so, & even then with many different meanings than what we ascribe today.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Don't get me started on Christmas!!!!!!!!
Sunday, December 6, 2009
While I'm sure Larimer County, Colorado, Sheriff Jim Alderen's 3rd annual Apparently Annual Politically Incorrect Christmas Tree Trimming Party was meant to be partly tongue-in-cheek & partly a serious commentary, the good constable may have actually done everyone a favor by being inclusive this year.
According to Coloradoan the sheriff has decided to invite atheists and agnostics from the Colorado Coalition of Reason to be part of the event. That means that along with the overtly religious displays of a nativity scene & a menorah, the Coalition was allowed to display a sign wishing love, illumination and celebration for all during the Winter Solstice. To make matters even more inclusive, a spokesman for the group encouraged attendees to dialogue in order to understand each other's beliefs.
That is, amazingly enough, the thrust of what religious liberty is all about: gov't is not to give any faith a Most Favored Status. All groups get the same treatment from the gov't that represents all people.
Perhaps other gov't entities could learn a lesson from this.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Here's the obit.
Right now, I think we are all just really, really tired. I've got several things I jotted down from the last few weeks --- & I fully intend on blogging about those at some point --- but I think I need to just do nothing for a while.
Thanks to everyone for the calls, the visits, the calls, the everything. My family & I appreciate it greatly.
My hero may have passed from here, but Grace & Peace are enough to still us in His Prescence.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I saw today where the ACLU of TN (see ACLU press release) has filed a lawsuit on behalf 2 former students & the families of 2 current students against Cheatham County School District. No surprise here since this sort of stuff seems to be fairly common here in the South: passing out Bibles in schools by the Gideons; school prayer at football games & graduation ceremonies; teaching of Creationism in the classroom; history classes taught that the US is a "Christian Nation;" & open evangelism of students by school staff. (See The Tennessean news article.)
I know there are many who actively support that sort of activity to be tax payer funded. There are many, sadly, who want this to be the norm in all schools. Even worse, there are many who believe our Constitution allows for this sort of stuff.
The problem is that the people who want that stuff to be the educational norm: 1) don't know history; 2) don't understand the implications they are calling for; & 3) don't realize this has been a settled question for a long, long time.
No, were are not a "Christian Nation," & I don't think anyone would be comfortable being in a "Christian Nation." While it is true we are majority "Christian" it is not true we are a "Christian Nation." Big difference. And what constitutes a "Christian Nation" anyway? Do we want to be a Catholic Christian controlled land? Westboro Baptist dominated? What denomination does the majority want to define our "Christian" status?
Treat others the way you want to be treated ... we decry the Taliban applying their deeply held religious beliefs on the people there, but we want to allow a religious majority here to do the very same thing?
Would those Christians feel the same way if the Muslims were the dominate faith there & began teaching that Allah created the world, while prayers to Allah were made at graduation & football games as everyone faced Mecca ...
I hope the allegations are not true. I hope this is all hype & just a terrible misunderstanding. If this is true, the admin of Cheatham County Schools needs to go: they are completely inept. This sort of stuff is taught as the Big No-No in all educational programs that award teaching degrees. I remember those classes well & there is no doubt what the courts have ruled on these issues & why. It is made crystal clear & rightly so.
If these allegations are true, I hope the people of Cheatham County, TN, have the good sense to teach of their faith in their homes, their churches, the public forums, the street corners & any private forum where it is allowed & is appropriate. But these Good Christian People need to realize the tax payer is not just Christian, & it is wrong to use non-Christian tax money to advance Christian Faith --- or any faith, for that matter.
Jimmy Madison would be rolling over in his grave.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The judge ruled that the state may not give Christianity the Most Favored Status. Pretty simple & straight forward, but not when there is a Righteous Cause --- not to mention the overwhelming religious majority's votes hanging in the balance.
Now there will be an end run of the ruling by placing the name I Believe on an organization, complete with the logo of the rejected tag, & having a tag issued to commemorate the private group. While that is legal, it is very rude as it is a loud & clear message to the religious minorities that the Christian majority really only winks at religious liberty --- Christians really think that non-Christians are second class.
And one day, that religious minority of today, will use that same tactic to have its image & proclamation on auto tags. And one day, there will be another religion that is the majority. And one day, that tactic will be decried as unfair & un-Constitutional by the very Christians who are using that same tactic today.
Treat others the way you would want to be treated.
Maybe the Golden Rule is only something these Godslingers talk about on Sunday & they never really intend on living that precept. Amazing.
On it we learn that it’s OK to shop at Amazon because its web site offers a “Christmas Decorations” & "Christmas Trees." But better stay away from American Eagle because "Christmas" is not mentioned on its website! Liberty Counsel tells us that Old Time Pottery mentions the word "Christmas" four times on its web page, making it a Wise Man Favorite. However, Old Navy gets the Herod Antipas Award because "Christmas" is not even mentioned on its website at all. None. Bad, bad Old Navy. Only coal in that Old Navy Stocking!
Read the list and marvel that some people obviously have too much time on their hands. Then, do what mostly everybody else who celebrates the Winter Holidays plans to do this year: Shop at the stores with the best prices.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
There was another "honor killing" last week, this time in Arizona. While an "honor killing" is common & doesn't make the news in some parts of the world, like Iraq where the perpetrator is from, it is rare in the United States.
In this instance, the Iraqi father was quite upset his daughter was becoming to "Westernized" after she left her husband & moved in with her boyfriend. Evidently a lady who wanted out of a marriage (for whatever reason) deserves death. So, a 20 year old lady is dead & her 48 year old father is in jail on murder charges --- because the Koran says so. (USA Today article.)
Now before anyone starts condemning the Muslims for their uncivilized view of things & the Koran for mandating such a terrible thing, let's stop for a moment & give our own history a glance or two. Remember such things as "defending your family's honor?" Even the infamous Hatfield & McCoy feud was escalated because a young woman left for an affair with the other clan (see Wiki article). In the South there is a common expression: He needed killing --- a statement that means justifiable homicide because the offending individual was so rotten.
This is not something unique to Islam. Don't forget Exodus 21:17: And he that curses his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.
Or Leviticus 20:10: And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
From a Biblical perspective, the guy followed the command of Scripture.
I'm gonna stop & let that sink in for a moment.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
There is a new book by Anne Marie Lofaso detailing the role of faith in the public school setting, & the legal landmines which it may bring. This is an excellent resource, especially for teachers, administrators & board of education members. IMHO, it should be required reading.
The free download is available here in pdf format.
Here is the Americans United article. Hard copies are available at this link.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Students at Port St. Joe High School in Santa Rosa, FLA, have discovered how to exercise their Constitutional right of free expression. It seems that after a judge told the principal of the high school that he could no longer actively promote Christianity (see prior posting) the students decided to do an end run & proclaim their faith at the football games anyway by passing out cards before the game announcing that 10 minutes before kickoff, there would be a student led Lord's Prayer recitation. The students would then hold up placards asking the audience to stand & the Lord's Prayer is recited --- all led by the students. Then an announcement is made over the loud speaker that the school in no way promoted or was involved with the public prayer. (See article in the Panama City News Herald.)
It's legal. And it should be. No problem with students exercising their right to pray or expressing their faith freely.
The problem is that what the students are doing is both terribly rude & sets a precedent that these same students will one day not like.
Other faiths will begin to do the same thing at some point. One day, there will be a "Prayer Battle" before the game to see which faith can have the biggest prayer support. That is not good, but that is the scenario this sort of childish action is going to cause. And by "childish" I don't mean the students: I mean the Religious Not Right zealots who are playing these students like puppets in their political game.
Jesus said, "Treat others the way you would want to be treated." Somehow I don't think these same Christians would want to be in a situation where 99% of the crowd is Muslim & all begin a student led prayer to Allah --- & that handful of Christians in the stands will feel an intense pressure to conform. That's not fair. It's not keeping with the command of Christ.
But the bigger question is this: why does anyone feel compelled to do a public prayer before a football game anyway? Don't these people pray on their own, in private? Where in the Bible does it ever talk about football game prayers anyway? Doesn't Jesus condemn public prayers for the sake of being seen anyway? Wouldn't it be more useful if those students --- Ok, adults who are the real instigators of all this --- were mindful of their faith as an ethic instead of a political tool?
Rudeness is a big turn off to a cause. Imagine how people of other faiths feel when they came to see their child participate in a football game, but the Christians in the audience forced the witnessing of a worship service? That is not the way to influence people for a cause but it is a surefire way to alienate people --- & give them every reason to do the same thing to the Christian minority one day.
Godslingers in Santa Rosa: please use your God-given brain to think before you plan anything else. You're not helping.
Friday, October 30, 2009
My post from yesterday involved the most bizarre article I've seen in a long, long time. Although I've heard uninformed people make such statements in the past, I never dreamed I'd read something like on Pat Robertson's CBN or in Charisma magazine. Never. While I have long said that Charisma is nothing more than Corinth Revisited & a place for Hucksters of the Word to hide with a sense of legitimacy, that article is beyond anything resembling rational thought.
Then I catch this link from Rob Boston's latest piece on the Americans United Wall of Separation. If you need a reason to be concerned about how outlandish the Religious Right has become; if you have forgotten why there needs to be a unified front to combat this sort of anti-intellectualism masquerading as faith; or perhaps you just need a good laugh. Regardless, take a gander at this link from good ol' Pat Robertson's CBN regarding the evils of Halloween.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
UPDATE: This article in question has been removed from the CBN website. I wonder why? I've posted several of the quotes below. Here is a cached copy of the original article. The same article is posted on the Charisma magazine's site.
Sometimes I read something that is so outlandish, so crazy, so out there, that words cannot express my utter dismay.
This article by Kimberly Daniels on Pat Robertson's CBN website has got to be the most down right silliest I've read all year. In fact, I'm going to nominate it for Goof Ball Article of the Decade. It will at least get Honorable Mention.
Ms. Daniels has declared war on Halloween, saying it is a Satanic holiday. OK. We've all heard that before from the uninformed. But Ms. Daniels adds a new twist to this: demons will come into your home through the candy your kids collect. Even worse, according to Ms. Daniels, if you buy Halloween decorations, demons are going to invade your home or church because they search for those colors & decorations.
That's right, ladies & gentlemen. You have just swung open the door to evil, crime, hate, Satanic worship, child sacrifice & even the Democratic Party if you buy M&M's to pass out to the kiddies during Halloween.
Let's get a load of some of these quotes:
If this holiday is hallowed, whose service is it set apart for? The answer to that question is very easy—Lucifer's! --- I can just see Church Lady saying this one.
Halloween is a counterfeit holy day that is dedicated to celebrating the demonic trinity of : the Luciferian Spirit (the false father); the Antichrist Spirit (the false holy spirit); and the Spirit of Belial (the false son). --- Can someone point out a reference for this in the Scripture?
During Halloween, time-released curses are always loosed. A time-released curse is a period that has been set aside to release demonic activity and to ensnare souls in great measure. --- A time-released curse? Have you been drinking way-early egg nog, Ms. Daniels?
For example, most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches. --- I'm just gonna let that one sink in for a minute.
Curses are sent through the tricks and treats of the innocent whether they get it by going door to door or by purchasing it from the local grocery store. --- Ooooh K.
Even the colors of Halloween (orange, brown and dark red) are dedicated. --- Ms. Daniels, have you ever noticed the colors of the leaves in the Fall? Orange. Brown. Red. Is God dedicating things to Satan?
When nice church folk lay out their pumpkins on the church lawn, fill their baskets with nuts and herbs, and fire up their bonfires, the demons get busy. --- I am just amazed at this one.
I have prayed for witches who are addicted to drinking blood and howling at the moon. --- Someone needs to take those people as well as Ms. Daniels to the nearest psych facility for a complete evaluation.
Then Ms. Daniels says that there is actually sex with demons & child sacrifice at Halloween. That's right: sex with demons. Child sacrifice. Really? Could we please have some evidence for these sex acts & the child sacrifice? In fact, the evidence is there is no child sacrifice. It's hype. Rumor. Scare tactics. Ms. Daniels is spreading gossip & falsehood, something that is certainly not a fruit of the spirit since there is no evidence there is any child sacrifice, & I doubt seriously she can prove sex with demons.
We believers are often portrayed as backward, ignorant, silly & gullible. It is stuff like Ms. Daniels has penned that only hurts the Message we proclaim.
Please, do us all a favor, Ms Daniels: don't say anything else. Just don't.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
I guess if there is any consolation to the latest CNN poll it is that a Southern Baptist is leading the pack for the Republican nomination. Wait. What possessed me to say that? Must be a Fundamentalist Flashback. I need to turn on some Chris Tomlin & open up Peterson's The Message to bring me back into the fold of Grace.
Seriously, the latest CNN poll shows theocratic-leaning, former Arkansas governor, former Southern Baptist pastor & part-time political pundit Mike Huckabee to be leading in the poll of likely GOP voters for the 2012 presidential race. Oh, goodie! This only shows how far out of touch the likely GOP voters are with mainstream America, & how far extremist the GOP has gone as a party.
Let's just have a round of Prohibition to celebrate.
I guess it is some consolation that Sarah Palin came in second. Second. Not first. How she can quit her position as governor to finish a book, go on the talk, e.g., rhetoric, circuit to whip the masses into a Gospel frenzy, & still come in second? Maybe Levi should have had an affair with Ms. Moose Hunter Herself instead of the 1st Daughter to get more support from the 20 Somethings out there.
Nonetheless, it was only 2 months ago that Mitt Romney held the lead of likely GOP voters, another interesting fact since most Fundamentalists view Mormons as 2 steps removed from Islamo-Fascists & only slightly better than Satanists.
Then there is the other part of the poll: none of the names on the GOP Likely List comes close to beating Obama. Hmmm. For all the complaining about Obama; the scare talk; the rantings & ravings; the whatever; Obama still has the edge over any GOP challenger.
Maybe there is hope for the Libertarian Party yet ... & America too, for that matter.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Let me make this perfectly clear at the beginning: I am all for the death penalty. I have no problem with the state extracting the ultimate liberty from a person when the crime is so heinous & so indisputable that no other punishment would be suitable. No problem with death penalty in those cases.
The problem is those cases are so rare that the death penalty is almost not an option.
Since 1973 & as of March 2009, there have been 132 death row prisoners exonerated. That is a huge number. 132. People who were sentenced to die but were innocent. The jurors were convinced the evidence was undeniable & after all the expensive appeals, the sentence stood. It wasn't until new evidence was found that innocent people were set free.
How many more innocent people were actually executed by the state?
And when we look at the disparity of race & economics & educational levels of people on death row, verses the sentences for the same crime of middle-to-upper class whites, it should cause another pause: we are executing the poorest, the minorities, & the people with the least ability to have an adequate defense.
Then there is the case of Cameron Todd Willingham who was executed in TX for the arson murder of his children. The saddest part of it all is that the investigation findings were that of old wives tales instead of real science. The forensics is that it was an accidental fire & not arson. (See New Yorker article by David Gann.)
There was a 20/20 piece on this a few months ago & the judge who heard the case was adamant: the fire was set by Willingham. The evidence proved it, evidence, he said, was based on Willingham's past as a down-right mean human being. Fine. Maybe Willingham was an SOB but we don't execute people for being mean.
And the judge said there was a Devil Worship angle. That's right: Willingham liked heavy metal music, a sure sign of Devil worship. (No, I'm not making this up.) And to make matters worse, the burn pattern was in the design of a pentagram, something the educated fire researchers say was mere happenstance (if even believed the burn pattern made that at all.)
Now we learn that the TX governor may have been playing politics with the Willingham case & tried to stone wall efforts to look into the possibility of executing an innocent man. (See current.com article.)
The problem is that we cannot go back & apologize to Willingham if we find out TX made its decision based on bad science, bad logic, a completely ignorant judge, & a political motivation to get votes by a TX governor. Once we carry out the sentence, it cannot be reversed.
There is a reason why the death penalty appeals process is lenghty & costly for the state: we value human liberty so much that we are willing to go to enormous lengths to keep from executing an innocent person. We even hold as a regal truth that we would rather 9 guilty go free to make sure just 1 innocent is not deprived of liberty. However, in our quest for vengeance --- not justice --- we have lost sight of liberty & how valuable that liberty should be, & that the priority of gov't is to protect all people, even those who have committed heinous crimes.
As much as I think some criminals deserve to be fried like a Crispy Critter, the cost is just not worth it --- the cost to the tax payer & the cost to our collective soul if we blow it, as in the case of Cameron Todd Willingham. Life without parole is cheaper & puts criminals in a place where he will always be subject to to the penalties deemed by society, but with the chance to live should new evidence come to light later on.
It's time we told our brethren in TX to stop with the vengeance of the Taliban & start acting like Americans who value liberty.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Orly Taitz. The button works but the doorbell ain't ringing.
That about sums it up.
Now a Federal judge in GA has finally told her "no more."
A summary is not good enough. You really need to read the whole article to get the full effect.
Thanks to my good friend at GA Mountains and Beyond for the update.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Ok. This is a bit personal to me because my oldest (of whom I am extremely proud) is a Resident Advisor at Berry College. Berry is a good school; a dang fine school. I'm glad he made the decision to go there, though I still sometimes wish he had gone to Shorter College. But I digress ...
Here's the link to the Berry College Viking article. My son won't really discuss this with me, saying they have been told not to. So I didn't pry & he didn't volunteer.
The story is that another Resident Advisor at the Winshape portion of Berry College performed an exorcism on another student. That's right: an exorcism. The RA had gone on a mission trip to India & had supposedly seen many exorsims performed over there & somehow decided that was the warranted situation in his dorm room during this Bible study.
And then, to really make things worse, he sent out a campus email detailing the event.
So here's the problem: it looks bad. There is no verification process. It sounds so backwards. And it gives Christians & Berry College a black eye.
Winshape is supposed to be a subset of Berry for Christian students committed to their faith. It was begun by Truett Cathy as a means to assist students & these students used to be required to work at Chic-fil-A while in school, though that requirement has since been lifted.
The problem is that Winshape --- as with any faith --- can become a hotbed of extremism, be it Christian or Muslim or anything else. And that can get dangerous, even doing serious harm.
I have no doubt the student believes what he did was right & that it was an actual exorcism. Maybe. I seriously, seriously doubt it, but maybe. However, that student on whom the exorcism was performed needed medical & psychological help in addition to genuine spiritual counseling. What the RA did was to run like a bull in a china shop into a situation he knows little about, has no training, & could have done more harm than good.
Berry College is a good school but with such a program like Winshape --- & the mega bucks that come with it --- there is a danger that a good school with a long, rich tradition could become the hotbed of a fanaticism. Tali-Christian.
And the world laughs at genuine faith over things like this.
Christians are the faith's own worst enemies.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Sometimes a story is just too good to pass up without comment. & such is this most worthy news event, from Albertville, Alabama. That's right, Alabama: the only thing that separates the great state of Georgia from Mississippi. Thankfully.
This story is almost as good as the one about the two guys in Alabama playing catch with a rattlesnake --- the one who died, lost the game.
Not quite as good as that one, but close.
No, this is about a mom who lets her teenage daughter ride in a cardboard box atop a minivan, but it was all safe because the box was secured to the van with a coat hanger.
Honest to Pete. Can't make up this stuff.
Only in Alabama.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
A great piece by Neal Gabler can be found in LA Times opinion section, saying that the American conservative movement has been hijacked by the religious right. The problem is that --- like the Taliban in Afghanistan --- when a political ideology is melded with the righteousness of God, there is nothing that can stand in its way, even if it is bad theology, bad politics, or just evil run wild. There is no evil men won't do when they believe God is on their side.
Here's a quote:
You cannot beat religion with politics, which is why the extreme right "wins" so many battles. The fundamentalist political fanatics will always be more zealous than mainstream conservatives or liberals. They will always be louder, more adamant, more aggrieved, more threatening, more willing to do anything to win. Losing is inconceivable. For them, every battle is a crusade -- or a jihad -- a matter of good and evil.
There is something terrifying in this. The media have certainly been cowed; they treat intolerance as if it were legitimate political activity. So have many politicians, and not just the conservative ones who know that if they don't fall in line, they will be run over. This political fundamentalism has also invaded the general culture in deleterious ways. The ugly incivility of recent months is partly the result of political fundamentalists who have nothing but contempt for opposing viewpoints, which gives them license to shout down opponents or threaten them, just as jihadis everywhere do.
Those who oppose the religification of politics may think all they have to do is change tactics, but they are sadly, tragically mistaken. They can never win, because for the political fundamentalists, this isn't political jousting, this is Armageddon.
Thanks to Dr. Bruce Prescott for bringing this to my attention.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
I swear. Do high school administrators not have a clue about coercion of a religious message? This is no brainer but apparently the administrators of Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School don't have much of a brain to consider such matters.
It seems that since 2003 the cheerleaders at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School have displayed religious banners that the football players crash through at the beginning of games. But these banners went far beyond Go Team. Oh, no. These banners were overytly religious & urged fans & players to commit to the Lord and take courage and do it.
I suppose that would be all fine & dandy at a private school but LFO is not a private school & the tax payer dollars of all citizens are at work on that football field.
So finally --- after 6 years, evidently --- someone had to nads to stand up, complain, & tell the school superintendent that those banners with Scripture quotations are illegal. Finally.
So the school system did the right thing & made the cheerleaders stop using Biblical quotes on the banners. According to the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, the school system issued a proper statement about respecting the law & the religious beliefs of all citizens of the county.
But let's not let a little thing like the Constitution stand in the way of a politician looking for votes, or a minister in need of a cause to stir the passions of the flock, not to mention the coffers.
Such is Fort Oglethorpe Mayor Ronnie Cobb who said: "If it's offensive to anyone, let them go watch another football game. Nobody's forced to come there and nobody’s forced to read the signs."
Ok. Thank you very much, Mr Cobb. Perhaps you will be so kind as to tell all non-Christians they are not welcome in your fair city & they should take their shopping dollars elsewhere. Please. I'm interested in how you would frame that scenario.
Or The Reverend Scott, who has several of the cheerleaders attending his church, said the most recent sign he saw quoting from Timothy 1:7 could be considered inspirational in many settings.
Sure it could, Rev. Scott. In many settings. But it is not appropriate at a public school anymore than a banner quoting the Koran would be. Not all that complicated.
Sigh. More Godslingers in action. I bet Jimmy Madison & Tommy Jefferson are rolling over in their graves.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I grew up a Reagan Republican --- a teenager disillusioned with a weak foreign policy, an economy that had been in the tank for the decade of the 70s, & a glimmer of hope from an actor-turned-politician who made patriotism a good thing again. So, yeah, I began my years as a Republican & was proud of it.
And then reality set in. I began to see that the GOP stood for God's Own Party & that God was defined with a very narrow theological slant, i.e., Fundamentalism, that left many believers to be cast into outer darkness.
While college mellowed my rigidity (thank God for the Good Ol' Days of Shorter College before the Neocons in GA took over the GA Baptist Convention & the Republican Party) it was in seminary that I was forced to examine where theology meets the real world. It was there I had to step back, take inventory, & admit that many of the things I had always heard were true were, in fact, not, but were really either politics in religious disguise or a narrow theology masquerading as conservative politics.
All that means little to the intent of this post except that the last five years or so have caused me to pause & examine the principles instead of the party. I don't like what I see happening in Baptist circles, & it is even worse in the national political sphere.
Frankly, the Brown Shirts have re-emerged in America. Oh, yes, they are more respectable, but they are just as real in the danger they bring.
Such is the case made by Max Blumenthal in his new book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party. (Here's the NPR link.) Catch this quote:
This was a portrait of the Republican Party fully in the grip of its right wing: almost exclusively white, overwhelmingly evangelical, fixated on abortion, homosexuality, and abstinence education; resentful and angry; and unable to discuss how and why it had become this way ... Eisenhower observed the early development of the modern American right with anxiety. His experience in Europe had taught him that the rise of extreme movements could be explained only by the psychological yearnings and social needs of their supporters. He understood that these movements were not unique to any place or time. Authoritarianism could take root anywhere, even in America. Eisenhower did not believe that an American exceptionalism immunized the country against the spores of extremism.
Interesting analysis. If true, the analysis would make Sinclair Lewis' 1935 quote in It Can't Happen Here a prophetic voice:
When fascism comes to America, it will be draped in the flag and carrying a bible.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Sorry I've been late on this but the flooding in my area has kinda hindered me from doing much.
The Federal District judge in FLA that heard the case regarding the contempt charges against (FLA) Santa Rosa High School's principal & athletic director ruled there was no violation of the order, saying the prayers offered were "spontaneous" & were not intended to violate the order. According to the Pensacola News-Journal: "[Judge] Rodgers said the prayer at a field house dedication during the school day that was held on church property was spontaneous, and there was seemingly no intent to violate the order."
OK. So the judge decided it was "spontaneous." The answer to the charge was that the building dedication was on church property, during the school day, with students present, & when asked to give a prayer, it was just done out of habit. Now I'm certain everyone believes that the prayer was purely reflex & these two guys just had a brain cramp & forgot all about the court order. I'm sure. Sure. Right. Uh huh.
The verdict was met in the court room with a Hallelujah Chorus of cheers, hymns, prayer chants & angelic high fives.
Outside the court room where I'm sitting, the verdict is met with skepticism, bewilderment & a jaw drop that wonders what planet this judge is on --- or church roll.
Still, that is the ruling. Fine. Chalk this up to another example where the church in the US is acting very similarly to the Taliban in Afghanistan. When the Tali-Christians take over & impose their narrow version of faith on everyone else, there will be no do-over to protect the guarantees of religious liberty in the Constitution.
God protect us from the Godslingers.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I find it quite amusing when my fellow believers resort to fabrications, falsehoods & free-style wording in an effort to take the Message to the masses. While I applaud the goal to share the Good News, I abhor the tactic of lying to do that. Somehow, it just doesn't seem right.
Such is the case with Liberty Council, a group that has the audacity to say it contends for the declaration of American values. Funny thing: their definition of American Values is that those are only Christian Values, for Christian People & then narrowly defines who is Christian, i.e., only those who agree with them. Quite a racket there.
Liberty Council has issued a press release concerning the criminal contempt trial of the principal and athletic coach of Pace High School in Santa Rosa County, FLA, who ignored a court injunction against faculty-led prayer. (See prior posting.)
Liberty Counsel's founder, Matthew Staver, commented: "What a sad state of affairs, when on the day we celebrate the oldest and most enduring Constitution in the world, that honorable public servants are tried as criminals for praying over a meal."
I'm sorry, Mr. Staver, but that is a flat out falsehood & you should be ashamed of even saying such. The trial is not over public servants praying over a meal --- not at all. The trial is because the principal & athletic director have been abusing their position of authority & coercing students & faculty into a certain religious dogma on the taxpayers' dime. The court said these two were acting in violation of the first amendment & it had to stop. These two men didn't stop & now they must face the court on the charges.
If these two men were Muslim & were encouraging students/teachers to worship Allah, I'm sure Liberty Council would have a different view of things. Then again, the whole Golden Rule ethic has escaped them, I'm sure.
Here is the Americans United press release that offers another view, one that actually demands the first amendment be followed & that government should never invade a citizen's conscience by advocating any religious dogma.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Jeff Sharlet has penned The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power & details the connection of strict Fundamentalist theology, coupled with plenty of capitalistic thought. The result is an Americanized version of the Taliban Light.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Shock. Absolute shock. A GA Baptist College is establishing a Creation Research Center at its campus.
That's right: science is no longer an academic subject at Truett McConnell College. Instead, a rigid, narrow theological view decides what is genuine science & what is not. According to the GA Baptist newspaper, The Christian Index, the college is establishing the creation research center with the view that the earth is only 6000 years old.
Good heavens. GA Baptist students will be cheated on an education & the school will be laughed at by all schools with any academics.
I knew this was coming. I even blogged about it last year when the editor of the Index bragged on the school's Biblical Worldview. Poppycock. Telling students to reject science & adopt a spiritual textbook as a scientific text is to shortchange our students. And when these bright young minds start examining the evidence --- overwhelming that the earth is not 6000 years old & there was not a spontaneous creation in 6 literal days --- these students will start to question the validity of all matters of faith.
The Godslingers have taken over the GA Baptist Convention & are now trying to indoctrinate our students to not only a certain, narrow theological slant, but also a political view & an anti-intellectualism.
And we wonder why our young people are leaving the faith & why the modern world refuses to hear our message. When we present ourselves --- no, relish in --- being backward & uninformed, we are hindering the message of hope. It is our own Baptist leadership that is grieving the Holy Spirit by not allowing Him to work in lives. Instead, our Baptist Witch Doctors are more concerned about indoctrination than changing lives; power, instead of people; control, instead of cooperation.
The Godslingers have another notch on their weapon. They now control another institution of higher used-to-be learning.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
We fight for all sorts of ideologies. We are killing each other for peace. We wrap our prejudices in patriotism, & then tie it all together with some intentional theology that is more self serving than anything.
For what? What is the price we are willing to pay for our stubbornness?
This has all come home to me in the last few years when I realized the foolishness of ideology under the pretense of theology. Then I had to admit I was not honest with the history I spent all those years learning. I had let my training be used as a tool to advance my agenda instead of being truthful with everything.
Speaking of everything, I've had to admit some real honesty about myself this past week. I had to stare down my fears, inadequacies &, well, my own heart. It's not easy.
The point is that life is too short to waste a minute with unimportant things. People are more important. Life is to be lived, not wasted. And why we waste important time of fighting instead of living is just beyond me.
Still tryin’ to reach the future through the past ... Still tryin’ to carve tomorrow from a tombstone ... Witchdoctors praying for a mighty showdown ... No way our holy flag is gonna’ fall ... Up here we sacrifice our children ...To feed the worn-out dreams of yesterday ... And teach them dying will lead us into glory... And I guess these young boys dying in the ditches is just what being free is all about.
This is a great video by Keith Harkin of Celtic Thunder. 'Bout time Paul Brady's song got the recognition it deserved.
Arizona is not big enough to be its own country but it is way to big to be an insane asylum. Really. Get a load (pardon the pun) of this.
Evidently a few like-minded believers of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe began arming themselves in fear of death threats, threats that were in response to a sermon by the church's pastor entitled Why I Hate Barack Obama.
I'm thinking the whole Jesus thing about loving your enemies hasn't been covered in Sunday School yet.
The pastor, Steven Anderson, was at least kind in the Death Wish Homily when he said he wants this to occur by natural causes: I don't want him to be a martyr, we don't need another holiday. (Click here to get recording of the sermon.)
Well, well! What did The Good Reverend Anderson mean by another holiday, hmmm? And the whole natural causes thing --- mighty white of you, Pastor Anderson. He prefers something like brain cancer of the Ted Kennedy variety & the Reverend is praying for that end.
The local ABC News affiliate, ABC15News, is reporting that Pastor Anderson is just giddy that his parishioners are armed & dangerous in the church house, saying guns are a great deterrent though he didn't say what is deterred.
I'm guessing the whole thing about Jesus telling Peter to put the sword away whilst in the Garden, & the praying for your enemies lesson was left out so the pot luck could be extended with more dessert time.
The night after Anderson's Aug. 16 anti-Obama sermon, one of his parishioners, Christopher Broughton, carried an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle outside President Obama's speech to the VFW at the Phoenix Convention Center.
The Secret Service is investigating. Thank God.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Else you may be in for a very long payback period.
Scientists have determined that wild crows have a grudge gene --- something that allows the crow to remember individual people & harass them for years. Ok. So maybe I went overboard with the grudge gene terminology but these birds take payback to the extreme.
I bet my mother-in-law is linked in the evolutionary chain to crows somehow ...
Here's the NPR article. Make sure to listen to the audio.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Interesting article. Strep killed off The Musical Master. The tour guides in Salzburg said Mozart was sickly all his life because he traveled around from age 6 doing music gigs & it was a cold, damp winter when he finally died. Strep. Next time my wife tells me it is just strep I'm gonna remind her that if The Musical Master can succumb, imagine what it can do to a guy that can barely play the radio.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Picture this: local park. Sunny day. Group of Christians gather & sing a few verses of Amazing Grace & then they pray. A brief homily is offered. Another chorus or two. An offering is taken --- must be a Baptist group. No one calls the cops.
Now let's change the scene a tad: local park. Sunny day. Group of Odinists --- an ancient Pagan faith --- is celebrating the harvest. They raise their arms. Sing & dance a bit. Suddenly the cops are called. Neighbors are claiming there is a White Supremacist group in the park doing all sorts of evil.
Well, it happened in Bakersfield, CA, according to KERO News.
The cops made them leave the park. Needs to be a complaint filed on that one. Public park & they have the right to assemble just like a Christian group would.
I'll just shake my head & wonder if the concept of our first freedom is even understood at the most basic level. How today's religious minority is treated will be how today's majority faith will be treated when the minority gains a larger status one day. How quickly we forget that Baptists were once the persecuted minority.
Now that the witchdoctors have taken over the faith powerhouses & made them into political action committees ... never mind.
Monday, August 17, 2009
I kid you not.
The Alliance Defense Fund is arguing that the Bible is not a sectarian text in Idaho. Therefore the Bible was not excluded in the state's Constitution when it banned religious texts in its schools.
I know. It sounds as kooky as kooky can get, but we're talking about the Alliance Defense Fund here, the same group that tried to spin their trial loss in Wilson County, TN, as a win. They even issued a press release saying the ACLU lost & the ADF won, despite the judge's ruling for the parents whom the ACLU represented on 5 of the 6 complaints. Needless to say, the ADF is very good at --- er, uh --- playing fast & lose with the truth. (See previous post.)
So while I normally wouldn't be surprised given the ADF's propensity to fib, I was quite aghast to see their latest claim.
Last week the Idaho Public Charter School Commission ruled the Bible cannot be used as a text book. According to the news article in the Idaho Press Tribune, the Commission ruled the state's Constitution "expressly' forbids the use of religious texts. In fact, Art. IX, Sec. 6 of the state's constitution says: No books, papers, tracts or documents of a political, sectarian or denominational character shall be used or introduced in any schools established under the provisions of this article....
Hmmm. Looks pretty obvious to me. That should settle the matter. The Bible is quite obviously a sectarian text. But the Alliance Defense Fund wants so badly the Bible to be taught on the public's dime that it is willing to deny the sacredness of the text. In other words, the ADF is willing to deny the Word of God so it can be taught in the public schools.
Denigrating the text in order to get it placed in the public school?
I resent that. I flatly reject the ADF's claim. How dare they.
If the ADF wants to claim the Bible is not an inspired text & is of no worth other than that of secular literature or history, that is their problem. But I resent my faith being trampled by their claim that the Bible should be treated as something common in public schools. It is not. It is a revered text & should be treated as such, not as something common & left to the untrained & non-spiritual insights of a public school teacher. The Bible is too lofty to be left to the gov't. Since the gov't has a nasty habit of soiling everything else it touches, I wonder if the ADF realizes the danger they just placed the Holy Bible.
The end never justifies the means. In this case, the ADF is mistreating the Bible, & showing themselves desperate in making every crazy argument just to get the Bible in the public school classroom.
I used to fear how a public school would treat the great truthes of the Bible if the gov't ever got the chance to teach it. Now I see the mistreatment the ADF is giving the Bible & wonder if the public school might actually be more respectful of the text.
Or maybe the ADF has demonstrated once again the complete lunacy of the Religious (not) Right, making themselves out to be my faith's own worst enemy.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
OK. So what's the problem?
Well, first, that is not what the rules allows. The current rules don't allow gov't to track users who access gov't websites. Nor should they. That is an invasion of privacy. It is nobody's business if I go to a public website anymore than it is the gov't business where I go to church.
Second, the potential for abuse is just too great. Watch V for Vendetta or Pleasantville & you'll get an idea of the problems that can happen. Better yet, just read about how the Patriot Act is being used.
The biggest problem, however, is not any of the potential breaches of privacy but the very real disregard for the Constitutional protections. If the Constitutional principles are skirted, it becomes easier to cross over that line at some point in the future. At some point it won't be tracking a computer but tracking what books one reads; what sermons one listens to; with whom one discusses politics; or even what a person's politics may be.
I will grant that the official line is that the tracking cookies won't be quite as sinister. According to the UK's Register, the cookies will only be used to better serve the user. While that makes sense & is a great goal, we all know the potential for abuse is just too great. It is simply not a chance we can take.
I will be the first to admit the Extreme Right has a good point here & the gov't policy should not be changed. Privacy is a first freedom, guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. My challenge to the Extreme Right is to be consistent. The ACLU has held the same position all along. Will the Extreme Right admit their hypocrisy? I doubt it.