The Mind’s Signs; You’ve Got to Have a Membership Card to Get Inside

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In the mind of all human beings you will find etched virtually unbreakable, arcane incantations. Amidst stray rituals, smells evocative of meaningful moments from life, and a variable number of intense emotional memories swept under mental furniture to prevent their being included in the ‘files‘. That is where they are found, shining out like neon signs along an oft traveled, drab neighborhood lane strung with bars and the occasional restaurant; engraved on the walls of the soul may be found a human’s personal, subjective, and mostly inviolable, ‘n Commandments’:

I MUST ONLY POOP WHERE I AM SUPPOSED TO!!!

 

NO ONE MUST DETECT BAD SMELLS FROM ME!

 

[Put your own related hang-ups, kinks, realizations or coping mechanisms here] IS DISGUSTING!

 

SEX IS…  [Put your own related hang-ups, kinks, realizations or coping mechanisms here]!

 

SEX MUST BE…  [Put your own related hang-ups, kinks, realizations or coping mechanisms here]!

 

SEX MUST NEVER BE…  [Put your own related hang-ups, kinks, realizations or coping mechanisms here]!

 

To Be Seen NAKED is…  [Put your own related hang-ups, kinks, realizations or coping mechanisms here]!

 

To See Someone Else NAKED is…  [Put your own related hang-ups, kinks, realizations or coping mechanisms here]!

 

Stealing is [Worse than or the Same As] stealing when you never [are/were] caught [variable intensity of punctuation]

 

I AM BAD IF I…  [Put your own related hang-ups, kinks, realizations or coping mechanisms here]!

 

I AM GOOD IF I…  [Put your own related hang-ups, kinks, realizations or coping mechanisms here]!

 

An attentive student cannot help but begin to get the picture; though only comprised of “software” modeled during our lifetimes on our psyche’s we are rarely even aware that they exist; let alone that we can change them with understanding and will.

Do you know what bars line your mental street of unforgettably forgotten habits, rituals and automatic, “natural” reactions? If you do have a mental map of your life’s ‘programming’, what are you doing with this understanding?

How are you treating Life anyway?

–       Be Prepared to Appreciate What You Meet. (Taoist proverb)

Dumbest (uncorrected) Choices in American History: Shortlist

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My list of REALLY STUPID CHOICES made in American history; just a short-list I am afraid:

Diet Food” that is more chemicals than food

Having the Soviet Union an “ally” in WWII – better to have let them go it alone; email for full argument

The Electoral College in the Age of Communication; direct election of all offices should be the norm; Political Parties are OBSOLETE and COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE

Public Sector Unions

Adding “under God” to the Pledge making it a point of division instead of unity

Lotus and Apple’s Patent-the-Universe Syndrome making the courts accept patents on things never meant for patent

Failing to live up to Dr. King’s vision and refusing to stop being prejudiced regarding race

Private campaign donations of any kind other than labor

Campaign donations by businesses

Supreme Court deciding that money= a right to a louder voice for YOUR ‘free speech

Dropping the no-partisanship requirements for radio talk-shows and ‘interview’ programs

Letting Lawyers advertise

Supreme Court declaring that nothing of value is earned by the recipient of a military award or decoration

Women’s, Chicano, Black “Studies” propping up people selected, distorted and lionized with blatant prejudice; taking away self-respect while pretending to help by ‘giving the poor things a hand’, and White Studies designed to rip on Western Culture for the same purpose – removing its self-respect – it seems non-whites are too dumb or clueless to run their own lives or stand up to whites and that whites are just intrinsically demonic – welcome to the enlightened world of PC education

Failing to settle on the point in a pregnancy where a woman’s choice is MADE and she must be held responsible for an infant rather than a piece of owned tissue. (6 month preemies regularly survive today and the Radical Right’s agenda on abortion would make women all but chattel)

Worrying more about which consenting adults, what age, color or how many may legally get ‘married’; ignoring the concept of duty, honor and responsibility anyone brings to their marriages

Bilingual Education as a policy

Helmets, knee and elbow-pads for tricycle riders

Peer promotion in school

Affirmative Action after 1990 – where was the transition to color-blind government?

Worrying more about what actual people have DONE with their guns than trying to get law-abiding folk to not have any at all

Electing Andrew Jackson, Jimmy Carter, George W., and Obama

Forgetting that ALL countries do best with immigrants if they pick from the TOP of the pile instead of the bottom

Paying a private group to print/coin money like a product to be bought forgetting that money has no ‘intrinsic’ value’; dollars are just counters for the economic game; increasing or decreasing the supply by fiat to ACCURATELY reflect the production/wealth of a nation is the ONLY reason when deciding when or if to print more money, or let the cash pool contract

Deciding that political consensus and no working model or scientific theory that has been tested is sufficient when making decisions in haste that could wreck the world’s entire economy/infrastructure; in the 70’s it was the next Ice Age that was imminent… no models then either

Making an “eco-friendly” light-bulb containing hazardous amounts of mercury

Adults stealing Halloween from the children and making it another grown-ups party holiday

The Writer’s Strike

ANY serious university or college that “emphasized” sports to make money and enabled ‘tails’ that can wag Great Danes with ease

Calling Yourself Liberal and Religious won’t MAKE You a Good Person

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Today we have two re-writes of older articles that seem very relevant today:

First, we will take the “Liberals” as well as the “Conservatives” to task for partisan hypocrisy…

Nowadays the word Liberal is often used as a pejorative; I often use it that way myself for good reasons.

Yet I am a moderate, and probably spend about 40% of the time cursing the idiocy of the Left, and 60% of it complaining and worrying about the Right (It is too bad there are not more real conservative minds in the Conservative camp these days.). Of the two the Conservatives tend to scare me a bit more but the Leftists in total power would be/ have been worse. But the actions of the radicals on either side do not condemn entire schools of thought to a mature mind.  This should be remembered by pundits on both sides in this age of attack politics.

 Lately a radically Conservative group has taken over almost all the political voice of conservative American Christianity.  They have used their pulpit to propound, and pound in, their own view of history, and how Christianity has influenced the development of the United States as a nation.

 They are not actually lying about the influence of the churches. The problem is that they have forgotten from just where in the Church all that influence came.  Yes, it was those damn liberals every time!

 In American history, every time the religious culture has had a profound positive influence (as judged by successive generations) on changes in society those influences have their roots in the Liberal-to-Radical churches. They most certainly did not come from the Conservative ones!

 The Conservative Churches in every case have held the line with the status quo through history whether it was regarding the Revolution, slavery, child labor, workers rights, racial equality or now, gay rights.  Yet the Conservative Churches of today want to shine their halos with the contributions made for the most part by the Liberal Churches of the past.

This activity is not unique to Christianity by any means.  A Radical Conservative Jew will spend much energy telling you about Judaism’s amazing contributions to Western society, but will refuse to see that his brand of thinking never produced any of it.  Find a Conservative Imam, and you will find a man eager to convince you that Islam has been an enormously positive contributor to civilization over the centuries.  But if you remind him that blind faithfulness to Islam’s Conservative philosophy had nothing to do with the various periods of (heretically liberal) Islamic glory that he is polishing up for you to admire; he may even take offense.

  In every case where religious and political power intermingle the things that modern world civilization would call progress has only come when the dominant Church(s) is(are) liberal to the point of being heretical (to the parent dogmas and doctrines), tolerant and more focused on understanding, accepting and spreading the “love behind the Law” rather than promoting a zero-tolerance attitude regarding adherence to the “Letter of the Law.”

But only stagnation and decay ensue when the Churches are conservative and cling to a memory, or fictitious ideal, of “the way it should be.”

 It should be noted that Conservative religious thought can have a greatly positive influence on society but, that usually the effects remain chiefly negative.

 Witness: the defense of slavery, and the stances of “Godly” preachers and priests against child labor laws, and minority civil rights laws.

Witness: the attempts at forced, coerced and violent conversions directed at any people of another religion that are under the influence of a politicized religion (theocracies, inquisitions, shari’a states).

 We all admit that Conservatism is designed to be highly successful at keeping the wheels of a society turning. Who but a fool will deny that there is a true virtue most times in maintaining most of the status quo; Leftists take note of the qualifications and keep your straw men to yourselves – I am not Christian, and never have been a Republican, or supporter of either Bush.

 But, it also must be admitted that Conservative governments and organizations have a poor track record when attempting to grease those wheels, to make accommodation for the fact that seems “odd“, “weird“, “different” to the average mind; whether the ideas are good ones or not!

When the going gets rough or to be a creative inspiration for the people who bear the main burdens of pushing the cart of civilization further, faster and safer than our ancestors ever believed it could go Conservatives can be of more a drag chain when they should be acting like the regenerative brakes that go with a hybrid engine.

 Conservative ideology certainly does not allow real flaws in the basic social system to be changed without a protracted, and often ugly, fight with the liberal mindset who are busy finding things that are not really broken to make into really nasty situations with well-meaning new laws and more, and more, and more tension from enforcement, and less and less elbow room for the well-intentioned citizen just trying to get along and improve their lives.

 Without a Liberal element in society, one that has enough influence to smack the current bosses on the head now and then but, not enough to dominate society  a person lives in what is at best a well upholstered slave camp destined to fade into the dust of history.

And…

Without a Conservative element at the core to give perspective and balance a people will… well, just look at the aftermath of every single revolution in the past – the American revolution was actually a colony revolt – it was an independently evolving, functioning society that broke away from the parent nation/culture rather than an indigenous movement to topple all the central power structures and replace them ad hoc with unproven or dis-proven but, “much better” institutions; not long after they succeed the real bloodshed is just beginning!

 Who was it again that decreed with proven ‘Holy Authority‘ that all human problems can, and may, only be solved by a totally Left-wing or totally Right-wing ideology? When did admitting that your Party’s platform cannot solve all problems if followed by “good” people?

The voting public needs to take off their trendy, strait-jackets/sheep-outfits, grow up, and look at reality – of the real kind, rather than the oh-so-importantly-unimportant political sort – and then find the ideal solutions, not the solutions that serve your political tribe while walking over everyone else’s Lives’, Liberties, and frantic Pursuits of Happiness.

As Religious Expressions Go This One is Bloody Righteous Instead of Righteously Bloody

What a nice change of pace. I am not Christian but, I certainly think this was a wonderful way for someone to express intense religious passion in public if that is what they feel they need to do.

This could have been a Pagan or Buddhist or other group, it is what they chose to express, joy and wonderment, not aggression or intolerance, that made me literally weep at the end with the realization that humanity is redeemable and most certainly worth being redeemed.

You Can Have “Faith” in Jesus or Mohammed: I Believe in Bugs Bunny!

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One thing seems to be consistent about religions all through human history; faith in the literal truth of the religion’s doctrines and dogmas is strongest in the least educated and least widely experienced, while the “elite” tend to range from religious beliefs with agnostic admissions to full-blown, cynical atheism.  This aspect of societal religion tends to favor the more partisan of each camp; the “masses” are peer-pressured to “show faith” and not think too much, while the “elite” are pressured in the same way to deny ALL aspects of deity and belief and God(s).  For those of us to whom seeking understanding of God in a REAL sense, as opposed to a political or emotional/security sense, this is a bit of a hindrance.

To try to avoid the almost inevitable miscommunication that occurs when attempting to discuss God let me define my own terms; belief is not the same as faith; faith is something that causes grief and only causes good by accident, belief is what built civilization as we know it.  Faith is defined in Western culture as belief in something unseen, unproven, un-EVIDENCED other than by certain scriptural testimonies; this is a fools game at best! 

This pseudo-religion has taken over much of the world’s “Faithful” by taking advantage of that tendency of the masses to desire a simple creed with authority to follow; just so they do not have to ponder things that they do not have the experience or education to ponder with any confidence.  It is not enough, their preachers say, to belief in the bridge over the canyon, you must have absolute faith that it IS there… sound of crunching bones at the bottom of the canyon.  And if the snake oil social system from perdition they are selling fails the test in the real world then it is the fault of the poor soul who failed to “show enough faith”!

As you can see Virginia, I have never completely gotten over my desire to seek God and lead others to know God better! mea culpa.  I still care,  I just recognized that all the “named religions” had been co-opted by pirates, parasites and otherwise religious reactionaries who become their own enemies fighting the first two. 

Belief on the other hand is based on facts and experience and yes, even intuition, if that intuition has a good track record; if every time you had something very bad happen in your life, and you had ignored a strong, distinct feeling to avoid the situation, eventually you would “believe” in it enough to listen; even though you have not had the “faith” for years to gamble on it not being coincidental indigestion!

I have beliefs, I have no faith; I like it that way.  Faith has to be blind, and the blind tend to step on things, including other people’s toes, property, pets and even bridges that are NOT over canyons.

This is not to say that I do not think that many of the things that can fall under either label are good, or useful; far from it!  In the documentary film about the life and death of comedian Andy Kaufman (Man on the Moon) there is a scene where he is waiting to undergo a faith healing in India in full belief, from things he has seen and read and experienced, that he would find healing; but he sees from where his stretcher is laid that the “healer” is faking the procedure, and his belief dies. 

Of course the proponents of “faith” will tell us that if he had continued to have FAITH, instead of merely believing, the placebo effect would still have worked and he might have found healing; I do not disagree, but I find that level of blind faith an evil, black magic; one that is less a slippery slope than an escalator to horrific abuses that we have seen over and over again in history when people forget the reality of their fellow man and treat them solely according to “faith.” Q.E.D. Virginia, Q.E.D.!

Bottom line? The true God lovers are recognized in spite of their religion, not because of it; every one mostly stays in the religion they were born in, in some religions it is almost impossible not to, yet there are good, godly people wherever you find human hearts and human tears.  Unless you want to have faith in the notion that God made you to be born in the faith you believe in just so YOU could be “saved”, while anyone not so favored was caused by the infinite power of Deity to be born in an unGodly cult; if you do, there is a quote from the Christian’s Bible that I believe is appropriate: “Jesus Wept”!

UN Ignores Islam-based FGM, Honor Killings and Under-Aged Marriage

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Ever wonder why the UN Human Rights Commission doesn’t do much about violence against women?  This video of the commission’s meeting with a concerned NGO will explain it is painful detail: Simple explanation; Islam may not be linked with ANY bad “traditions”, period, end of statement.

Littman UN video rev 4 from Vlad Tepes on Vimeo.

Watch it all, it is worth it!  Get ready to applaud the “point of Order” by the German delegate!!!

If You are Not Playing Fair, God is Not on Your Side; Clergy are Not Excused from Honesty

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Today we have two examples, one from the Left and one from the Right, of people making blatantly self-serving attacks on their political opponents while attempting to cloak themselves in the sanctity of God.  This is partisanship at its most nauseating.

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First let us examine the Leftist “religious” viewpoint:

Liberal Christians Give LESS to the Poor; Naturally We Must Expose The Conservative Reasons for Not Giving Enough! …HUNH?

I have often said that partisanship can make people believe anything about ANYTHING.  Here is a good example of someone so needy for rotten fruit to huck at his opponents that he “condemns” them for… what amounts to being BETTER at something than his own side!!!  To make matters worse he all but lies to do so, distorting basic facts and mixing and matching demographics at will to support his demonization of a group that has shown itself well able to expose its own demons; Conservative Christianity)  I just want to ask him one thing, who gored YOUR ox?

Richard T. Hughes

Why Conservative Christians So Often Fail the Common Good (Part 2)

In part 1 of this article, we posed this riddle: why do so many evangelical and fundamentalist Christians — people who clearly honor the Bible — so often disregard the two requirements that are central to the biblical vision of the kingdom of God, namely peacemaking and justice for the poor?”

From the start this piece is off track, as Jesus preached to individuals and taught PEOPLE how He wanted them to live. He did not preach to nations or governments, He never left precepts for RULING a society.  The author actually seems to have bought into the heresy of the far-Right, Christian Identity folks; “Godly” society must be established BEFORE Jesus can return.

“Why Focus on “Conservative Christians”?

Some readers quite correctly pointed out that conservatives tend to be more generous toward the poor than liberals, but to frame the issue like that only muddles it. The Bible never suggests that we adequately fulfill our responsibilities through “generosity” toward the poor. Rather, the Bible summons Christians to radical solidarity with the poor and radical opposition to those demonic, systemic structures — what the Bible calls “the principalities and powers — that sustain the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor and the dispossessed.”

Really? In my reality Jesus called for individuals to turn away from political structures and just GET ON WITH IT and feed the poor and live THEIR lives as their conscience commanded.   In fact He had harsh words for those who felt they could legislate morality into their “flock”!  He further advised in no uncertain terms that civil rebellion was NOT his way.

I also love the way the author dismisses out of hand the notion that actual ACTION to help REAL poor people, as opposed to working to create a government to force everyone to care for them, is somehow a lesser expression of Christian charity and Love.  You just Gotta love group-think Virginia!

“…Further, to claim (GDeW: You said before that it was correct, but now you call it a claim?) that conservatives are more generous than liberals sidesteps the fact that neither group is all that generous toward the poor to begin with.”

Are you following this Virginia? Conservative Christian give more to the poor but since neither Leftist nor Conservative Christians do enough in the author’s eyes, it is the CONSERVATIVES that must be brought to task…umm, yes, it is a bit silly. Lets see if our dear Mr. Hughes can pull it out at the end.

“It also sidesteps the fact that neither conservative Christians nor liberal Christians are called to compare themselves with one another.”

I was unaware of the fact that it called for them to ignore their own faults and attack the other! You seem to be of a different opinion Mr. Hughes.

“Instead, if Christians are serious about following Jesus, the only meaningful comparison is with Jesus’ picture of the kingdom of God, and when measured by that standard, American Christians across the board — liberals and conservatives alike — fall woefully short.”

As a student of history I am well aware that pretty much all Christians of this day and age fall short of what the fist generation of “Chrestians” recognized as their own brethren.  That said, I do not know of any major branch, original or modern, that promotes the idea of Jesus’ preaching that you must work for a GOVERNMENT to be formed in the image of the Jewish vision of a Messiah Ruled Society before a person could be considered a follower of His.

“Why, then, would I write a two-part article that singles out conservative rather than liberal Christians for a comparison with that biblical vision.”

Given that your vision is one that you made up instead of finding it in the words of Jesus, I would say that it is just so you can use God as a weapon in your ongoing partisan attacks against your fellow Christians.

“First, conservative Christians are typically far more adamant than liberals in their claims that they are “Bible-believing Christians” who take the Bible seriously at every point.”

The passage above is a great example of a man so eager to demonize the opposition he does not even realize he is insulting his own side!  He is trying to hard not to “look mean” by calling Biblical Literalists byname that he implies that Liberal Christians do not believe the Bible seriously AT ALL.  Kinda makes you wonder why they would BE Christians if Hughes has them pegged rightly, doesn’t it?  Somehow I think that the average “Liberal” Christian deserves a bit more respect than that!

“ It is therefore fair to ask how successfully they live out a theme that stands at the center of the biblical text — the biblical vision of the kingdom.”

First off,it is a central Biblical theme that you do not stand hypocritically on the Temple steps and denounce the sins of others before you have examined your own!  And you certainly do not do it by putting words in the mouth of the central figure of your supposed religion that support your political goals!

“The second consideration is perhaps even more important. For almost forty years, the most visible representatives of the Christian religion in the United States have been conservatives, not liberals. I have in mind the electronic evangelists — those leaders of the Christian Right like Jerry Falwell, Jim Bakker, James Kennedy, Pat Robertson, and a host of others — who have been extraordinarily vocal about their vision of the United States as a Christian nation. Not once have I heard any of those preachers define the Christian religion in terms of either (1) peacemaking or (2) justice for the oppressed, the poor, the marginalized, and those who suffer at the hands of the world’s elites — themes that are central to the biblical vision of the kingdom of God.”

One wonders why Hughes doesn’t just do a piece on how televangelism corrupts preachers, given that he only lists the most controversial if not heretical of a class that polls have revealed to have about the same level of trustworthiness in the public eye as lawyers!  And even with that vetting for nuttiness I would bet that if you actually read their sermons you would find examples of these things; if you ignore Mr. Hughes’ fantasy about Jesus requiring His followers to build Socialist government institutions.

“To the contrary, these preachers have often gone out of their way to support the principalities and powers that oppress marginalized people. Various televangelists at various times, for example, have told the American people that God has chosen the United States for a destiny of dominance in the world, that Jesus’ followers should prosper and never be poor, and that Christians should rally to support America’s wars against the enemies of God. In a word, most televangelists of the Christian Right have preached a gospel that is radically antithetical to the biblical text, and by proclaiming this pseudo-gospel, they have discredited the Christian religion almost beyond belief. It is surely time to measure their preaching by the biblical vision of the kingdom of God!”

Am I confused Virginia, or did we start off this piece talking about how Conservative Christians giving more to poor folks really meant Liberal Christian were the cool ones? How did we get onto Televangelists? Many Televangelists are bad preachers = All Conservative Christians are failing their duty to God? Somehow, I do not think Mr. Hughes passed Logic 101.

“The Kingdom of God and the Common Good

… The kingdom of God is universal and those who promote that kingdom care deeply for every human being in every corner of the globe, regardless of race or nationality. But earthly nations — even so-called “Christian” nations — embrace values that are inevitably nationalistic and tribal, caring especially for the welfare of those within their borders. And while the kingdom of God exalts the poor, the disenfranchised, and the dispossessed, earthly nations inevitably exalt the rich and powerful and hold them up as models to be emulated. In fact, in the context of earthly nations — even so-called “Christian” nations — the poor seldom count for much at all.”

Which is probably why Jesus preached to people and not governments!!!  So intent on his political goal is he that even while describing it, Hughes misses the point of Not Of This World!

“In light of that comparison, it must be obvious that when I speak of the common good, I don’t have in mind the American dream of a chicken in every pot or three cars in every garage or the American notion that freedom ultimately means freedom to shop. In fact, I don’t have in mind anything uniquely American at all. Instead, when I speak of the common good, I have in mind what the Bible envisions for all humankind — life and not death. But when the principalities and powers define the common good, they typically mean the good life for some, and the good life for some invariably means poverty, hunger, nakedness, and finally death for all the others.”

And this is probably why the Bible envisions this perfect society needing DIRECT INTERVENTION by God to come about AFTER we have messed it all up for the last time (not MY view, but the Bible’s), not Mr. Hughes and his buddies legislating their version of “morality” upon everyone.

“One final introductory comment: several who commented on the first article also questioned the accuracy of my claim that the biblical vision of the kingdom of God is really all that central to the biblical text or, for that matter, to what Christians call “the gospel.” But the Christian gospel always has two central components — the unmerited grace that God extends to us and, in response, the unmerited grace that we should extend to others. I John makes this point as well as any other biblical text: “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (I Jn. 3:16) That is as clear a picture of the kingdom of God as one is likely to find.”

It is simply astonishing to see someone hold up a black book and declare it to obviously be white!  It is just sad when that person does it for personal glorification and to put down their opponents. It is simply disgusting when that person does it using God.

Where, Mr. Hughes, does the Bible tell us to legislate that grace so our neighbor is forced to dispense it in exactly the measure WE define as acceptable?  Pardon me while I go get reacquainted with my breakfast.  The fact that all that poison was just “introductory” to your “point” put my stomach over the top.

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Now let us move on to the Right-Wing side of the Pew and see how a “conservative Christian” shows his love by lying and distorting everything he can in order to “Save” his sheep:

Traditional Values Coalition Opinion Editorial For publication on or after Wednesday, October 31, 2001

New FBI Hate Crime Statistics Expose Homosexual Lies

By Rev. Louis P. Sheldon Chairman, Traditional Values Coalition

… This legislation begins with this somber comment: “The incidence of violence motivated by the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability of the victim poses a serious national problem.”

This introduction to S. 625 is filled with lies and half-truths about the nature of hate crimes in America-yet this bill is being seriously debated-despite the facts. The recently released FBI hate crime statistics for 2000 shed new light on what Ted Kennedy alleges is a “serious national problem.””

And now Rev. Sheldon will put his own lies and half-truths on the table as a counter-balance!

“Most Americans are tolerant and compassionate individuals who do not wish anyone to be harmed. Unfortunately, homosexual activists have exploited this compassion in the promotion of the idea of “hate crime” legislation. A “hate crime” law typically includes enhanced penalties against an individual for his negative thoughts when he committed a crime against a person who is part of a protected class. For example, a common thug who mugs a lesbian for her purse will receive a higher penalty for his anti-homosexual thoughts or motivations than if he had mugged a woman simply for her money.”

I have my doubts about many, if not most, hate crime laws, however lying about them does not help! Claiming the label Reverend and then proceeding to lie is “just not done”!

A hate crime law does not criminalize the thoughts of the thug who HAPPENS to mug someone who is a lesbian, they only apply if the lesbian is attacked BECAUSE she is a lesbian. If a person mugs two women, one of whom is openly lesbian, and then verbally insults that woman for being gay and kicks her in the face, all the while not harming the “straight” lady, they HAVE committed a hate crime in addition to the “regular” crime.  I fail to see that the basic idea of making crimes that are committed ONLY because of prejudice a special class is wrong.

“Homosexuals have been successful in getting many states and communities to add “sexual orientation” as a protected category under hate crime laws. This creates what amounts to “thought crimes” and unequal justice under the law for those not given protected class status.”

I can’t see why, if you are gong to have a hate crime law, why ANY definable grouping should not be included.  The whole idea of “hate crime”is of a crime that WOULD NOT HAPPEN if the criminal did not see the victim as “acceptable to attack” because of their race,religion, politics, sexuality or WHATEVER. IF someone attacked and beat someone for being a street mime it should be classed a hate crime.  “Normal” crime is impersonal,it is about transferring money or property from one who has it to one who wants it but, hasn’t earned it.  Committing a crime not for financial gain, but solely to satisfy an inner need to dehumanize ANYONE, is what the hate crime ideology is all about at its core.

“The FBI’s newly released hate crime statistics should be welcomed news to homosexuals. The latest hate crime numbers have been posted on the FBI’s web site. …The FBI hate crime statistics show the following: In 2000, there were a total of 8,152 hate crimes reported involving a total of 9,524 distinct incidents. Out of a total of 8,144 single-bias incidents, for example, 5,206 were racially motivated and 1,568 were bias crimes against a person’s religion.

The FBI says the most common hate crime was that of “intimidation” with a total of 3,294 cases. A person who was “intimidated” was a victim of profanity, racial slurs, or verbal threats by another individual. In short, a third of these hate crimes were non-violent and amounted to name-calling.”

One wonders  if the good reverend has ever been seriously harassed or taunted or threatened in his life! He blithely dismisses as mere name calling things as serious as multiple, physically aggressive and verbally hateful people trailing someone down the street telling them in graphic terms just what they plan to do to that person, their family and anyone who is close to them…Remember, these statistics only refer to those verbal acts that were considered by the FBI to be CRIMES!

Virginia, what do you think of a reverend who thinks that a truck load of rednecks trailing a black schoolgirl and taunting her with rape and assault on her family is “name calling”? Good girl, I can’t fault your instincts. But, you should not use language like that in public. Ladies have better use of their vocabulary than that!  To be fair it should be noted that he also probably considers 15 Muslim youths chasing and screaming threats at a Jewish kid half their size to also be “name calling.” The Rev. only promotes Equal Opportunity Callousness I am sure!

“…Overall, there were only 1,517 hate crimes of bias committed because of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation in 2000. It is likely that at least a third of these were intimidation or name-calling. The FBI gathered these statistics from 11,691 law enforcement agencies encompassing a total of 237 million Americans-or 84.2% of the entire population.”

Here is a good example of how partisans use statistics dishonestly.  The number 1,517 is called “only’ and then several much larger,but irrelevant, numbers are listed to further diminish it in the reader’s mind. The good Rev obviously does not expect his audience to stop and THINK about the numbers he has revealed to be a veritable gospel for American homosexuals.

1,517 out of 8,144 means that more or less one out of every five incidents of ”single bias” against ANYONE was about that person’s sexual orientation!  Almost TWENTY PERCENT!  And this is measured against all the bias incidents against Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Jews, women, men, old folks, young folks, Republicans, Democrats and whatever other groups you care to name!!!  TWENTY PERCENT of this type of crime is committed against gays?  And the Rev feels that gays should rejoice in this “Good News”?

“No compassionate American is in favor of someone being verbally or physically assaulted because of his sexual preferences, but neither should we be subjected to thought crime legislation that provides special legal protections to homosexuals not accorded other Americans. Criminalizing a person’s views on sexual behavior should not be a matter of federal law.”

I agree that EVERYONE should have protection against bias motivated crime. But, this does not give the morally-ambiguous Reverend the right to lie and say that criminalizing bias-based ACTIONS (that in themselves are criminal) is criminalizing a person’s VIEWS!!!

“Out of 11.6 million crimes committed against persons and property in 2000, only 1,517 were hate crimes directed at homosexuals-and a third of these were undoubtedly name-calling. This should be good news to homosexual activists, but it undercuts one of their primary objectives: The passage of federal hate crime legislation that will add homosexual behavior as a protected class status under federal civil rights laws.”

I guess that it is possible to admire the economy or language in the above passage, it is impossible to find morality in it. First the Rev pulls the TOTAL person and property crime number out (not the much smaller, but RELEVENT, single-bias number) and compares it to 1,517, next he applies his “name calling” dismissal to further reduce the importance of that number. Finally, he slaps homosexuals in the face by calling this number good news and uses the sum of his hypocrisy to “prove” that the numbers “undermine” the need for hate crime laws, ESPECIALLY regarding homosexuals!  Tums anyone?

“…The FBI’s recent statistics showing how few hate crimes were committed against homosexuals in 2000 are irritations that will undoubtedly be ignored by activists. The truth has undercut their claims of an epidemic of hate crimes against homosexuals, but that won’t stop them from attempting to gain special rights under federal law for their preferred sexual behavior.”

I guess the Rev follows the old “Big Lie” theory; tell it with a straight enough face and tell it often enough, and people will believe ANY nonsense!  Notice how he tosses in the gibe implying that gays CHOOSE to be as they are!

Left or Right, it does not really matter. Those who seek power for power’s sake will show themselves as morally empty,no matter what “God” they claim to follow.

 

The Ethics of Being a Theologian


The Ethics of Being a Theologian

By K.L. Noll

“Do you find, as an atheist, that you have difficulty defending religious beliefs to your students?” The question came from a professor of metaphysics whose views of reality, I had just confessed to him, strike me as self-evidently false. Perhaps I should have been more tactful. Nevertheless, his question took me by surprise.

This intelligent man had just made two false assumptions. Without sufficient evidence, he assumed that I am an atheist (for the record, I am theistic off the job and professionally agnostic) and that a professor of religion is an apologist for religious beliefs.

“We study religion, we don’t practice it,” I told him. This is what I usually say. Sometimes I try to be more gentle: “The study of religion is the study of people, and the gods are interesting to us only insofar as they shed light on the people who conceptualize them.”

My encounter with that professor reflects a problem endemic to academe. Most people do not understand what religious study really is. Professors of religion are often confused with, or assumed to be allies of, professors of theology. The reason for the confusion is no secret. All too often, even at public universities, the religion department is peopled by theologians, and many of those theologians refuse to make the distinction that I am about to make.

In my view, the purpose of academe is to advance knowledge, or an understanding of how things are in the real world. I do not accept the trendy postmodern notion that we are incapable of achieving that kind of knowledge. Our colleagues in the natural sciences have an advantage over us, in that they are able to wrestle with reality using research tools unavailable to the humanities or social sciences. Nevertheless, when unencumbered by overtly ideological agendas, even those of us in the humanities and social sciences can advance knowledge.

(HH here: I only differ with him in believing that at this time in Human history we actually can start to blend the two into a field of Valid Theology based int he real world)

Religious study attempts to advance knowledge by advancing our understanding about why and how humans are religious, what religion actually does, and how religion has evolved historically. (The latter is my subdiscipline.) Of course, each religion provides its own explanation about why and how the religion exists, but their answers to these questions depend on truth-claims advanced by the religion itself.

Our research is necessary because religion does not do what apologists for religion usually say it does. It does not reveal a god to us or enable us to achieve something referred to vaguely as enlightenment. One does not need to be an atheist to realize that each claim of divine revelation exists for some purpose not stated (or, in some cases, not even known) by the one who claims the revelation. A religious truth-claim can be advanced for any number of reasons. It might be a cynical political ploy or a sincere interpretation of genuine experiences that neurobiologists can help us to understand. Likewise, one need not affirm atheism to understand that sacred traditions, like any combination of cultural artifacts and human ideas, survive and replicate for reasons that have little to do with the truth-claims associated with those traditions.

Theology also views itself as an academic discipline, but it does not attempt to advance knowledge. Rather, theologians practice and defend religion. Theology is a set of words about a god; therefore, while theology is one of many objects of investigation for a religion researcher, it is the substance of the scholarship produced by a theologian.

(HH: It is interesting that you also encounter political theologians!! Determined to defend their orthodoxy in spite of reality.)

There is nothing wrong with the practice and defense of religion, but it is not the study of religion. The best theologians are scholars who have immersed themselves in many of the same academic disciplines favored by religion researchers. Like good religion research, good theology is generated by the application of sound reasoning to empirical evidence. But there is a crucial difference. The religion researcher evaluates that evidence from within a tradition of secular, academic “wisdom.” The theologian evaluates the same evidence from within a tradition of sacred, esoteric “wisdom.” The distinction is not trivial and ought to be recognized and honored by religion researchers and theologians alike.

(HH: Today reality has become esoteric enough to support a “Rational Theology”. See Quantum God for one take on the possibilities.)

Since rituals do not accomplish what the religion says they do, the researcher evaluates them on the basis of what they actually accomplish, even when the doctrines do not acknowledge those accomplishments. At the most simple level of evaluation, rituals create a sense of community, maintain identity boundaries, and defeat inclinations to pursue heterodox behaviors. Experts in the study of ritual have developed more-complex theories, but from the viewpoint of a theologian, all such observations, no matter how well defended by data and argument, are dismissed as reductionistic. For theologians, the ritual’s raison d’être is defined by its associated doctrines, or the alleged revelation or foundational myth upon which it appears to rest. In many cases, the ritual is defended as behavior that accomplishes genuine changes in the participant.

In other words, the theologian maintains that there exists an irreducible element in religious ritual that we religion researchers cannot hope to comprehend. (HH: but they all have different ones and claim the other’s have invalid ones.) I expect every theologian to believe this and will never argue with theologians about it. It is not my place to tell religious people how to be religious, and theologians are within their rights to insist on their ideas about their own religions. However, our disagreement clarifies the difference between theology and religious study. Whereas the theologian advances ideas about the religious value of ritual, religious study attempts to advance knowledge about ritual. Moreover, research suggests that most religious participants either do not know or do not care about the theologian’s ideas concerning the ritual’s significance. They are content to construct their own ideas about ritual, which reveals an irony many theologians fail to comprehend: Not only are the theologian’s ideas about ritual irrelevant to the religion researcher, they are irrelevant to most religious people.

In sum, the religion researcher is related to the theologian as the biologist is related to the frog in her lab. Theologians try to invigorate their own religion, perpetuate it, expound it, defend it, or explain its relationship to other religions. Religion researchers select sample religions, slice them open, and poke around inside, which tends to “kill” the religion, or at least to kill the romantic or magical aspects of the religion and focus instead on how that religion actually works.

Little wonder that many academics—and Richard Dawkins is merely the most vocal among them—dismiss the discipline of theology as “talk about nothing.” A number of theologians have taken issue with Dawkins, but all of them seem to miss his central point, which is that talk about a god is, necessarily, talk that never advances knowledge. Regardless of one’s opinion of him, Dawkins has done academe a great service by providing a quick way to identify a theologian in our midst. If you are uncertain with whom you are speaking, just inject the name of Richard Dawkins into the conversation. The theologian will be dismissive of him; the religion researcher will not.

The distinction that I have drawn between theology and religious study is not merely academic but ethical. In my view, the presence of a discipline within academe that does not attempt to advance knowledge but tries to defend a set of truth-claims for which empirical data are, by definition, unavailable requires of theologians greater ethical responsibility than most of us in academe already acknowledge. Academic theologians’ pronouncements give the public a false sense that theology represents an advance in human knowledge. Recent embarrassments, like the rising influence of intelligent-design “science,” demonstrate that claims made by theologians have consequences. Theologians must take a hard look in the mirror and ask if they can live with those consequences.

Theologians’ failure to meet their ethical obligations is particularly significant with respect to the Bible and other sacred writings. The field of biblical studies includes a great many religion researchers but remains dominated by theologians whose pronouncements about the Bible routinely lead the less informed astray. Not infrequently, theological concepts are packaged as the conclusions of historical research. The problem is not merely that biblical characters like Moses or Jesus are presented to the public as figures of history on the slimmest of evidence, but, more insidiously, that biblical claims about human obligation to a god are presented as though they are supported by some kind of evidence.

… The god of the Bible is the sum total of the words in the text and has no independent existence. It would be reasonable to begin every theological discussion with the disclaimer “the god described in this sacred text is fictional, and any resemblance to an actual god is purely coincidental.” This is not an outsider’s dismissive opinion, but the reality, and theologians have an ethical obligation to teach that truth even if they also want to believe and teach, as is their right, that a god exists.

I now realize how I should have answered the philosopher who asked whether I had trouble defending religion to my students: “I explain complex religious doctrines to undergraduates every time I enter a classroom, and I’ve never had difficulty doing so. But I tell my students that my role is to explain and evaluate, never defend, religious belief and practice.”

K.L. Noll is an associate professor of religion and chair of the religion department at Brandon University, in Manitoba. He is the author of a popular textbook for undergraduates, Canaan and Israel in Antiquity: An Introduction (Sheffield Academic Press, 2001).

(HH here: …how the theologians as the author defines them react so violently against his utterly sensible ideas.
My own quest as a theologian has not however been to defend any particular dogma. Instead I have always sought to A) find out what Deity is unlikely to be B) what Deity could be and C) what shape should a “valid in the REAL world” religion take?
Why is it some folks don’t see that if God is “Real” then “He” exists in the “real world” not just in a fantasy in our heads and look for God in the world, not their egos and imaginations?
I take the term Theology literally. As the author says, I try to extend VALID knowledge of Deity instead of apologizing for some past fantasy about what God is SUPPOSED to be.)

READ IT ALL!!!

Here is one you won’t find on Atlas or Jihad Watch

“Wives should submit to their husbands in everything,” writes Paul to the Ephesians about how they should order their domestic lives. Mary Slessor, 19th century Scottish missionary and early feminist wrote in her Bible next to this text, “Nay, nay, Paul laddie. This will na do.” Mary Slessor was right. Religious women need to challenge such religious justifications of domestic violence. Their lives can depend on it.

The primary connection between religion and domestic violence is religiously sanctioned subordination of women. Submission itself is institutionalized violence–a structure of unequal power that puts women in a vulnerable position in the home. The front door of such a “religious” home becomes a doorway to violence.

Mary Potter Engel, a Christian theologian and novelist, has called this the “Just Battering” tradition. She models her analysis of the Christian justification of violence against wives on the Just War tradition. Just War principles start with “Right Authority.” In the “Christian home,” ideologies of “submission” mean that only the husband has authority. This makes physical abuse of women “just” in the same way that political authorities can claim a war is “just” if it is authorized by them.
(See Kay Marshall Strom, In the Name of Submission: A Painful Look at Wife Battering)

Evangelical Christian ministries such as those run by Rev. Rick Warren at his Saddleback Church or James Dobson of Focus on the Family all stress “submission” as the Christian family role for wives. At the same time, these Christian Evangelical ministries staunchly deny that submission is a cause of violence against wives.

Some Evangelicals strongly disagree and have explicitly charged that it is submission that is responsible for wife battering in the “Christian” home. James and Phyllis Alsdurf, in Battered Into Submission: The Tragedy of Wife Abuse in the Christian Home, have noted that conservative Christian women can’t even get help because of this religious ideology of submission. “When she [the battered wife] musters up the courage to go public with ‘her’ problem (very likely to her pastor or a church member), what little human dignity she has retained can soon be ‘trampled underfoot’ with comments like: ‘What have you done to provoke him?’ ‘Well, you’ve got to understand that your husband is under a lot of pressure right now,’ or ‘How would Jesus want you to act: just submit and it won’t happen again.'”

In fact, Jesus gets invoked a lot to justify wife battering, especially as a model for suffering. In an article Time Magazine did when Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ was first released, I noted the direct connection between an overemphasis on suffering as “saving” people and what women have told me for years about how their priests or ministers advise them to stay in a violent home. “Countless women have told me that their priest or minister had advised them, as ‘good Christian women’ to accept beatings by their husbands as ‘Christ accepted the cross.’ An overemphasis on the suffering of Jesus to the exclusion of his teaching has tended to be used to support violence.” (April 12, 2004)

This is a sad commentary on the role religion sometimes plays in human life. It does not have to be this way. We have put up with violence in the “religious” home for far too long. The truth is, “batterers” aren’t serving God, they are serving themselves and it’s sin, plain and simple.

Israeli girl ‘youngest divorcee’

(HH here: I know, you thought this would be about some radical Jesish sect that had merried off some pre-pubescent like the Muslims and some Hindu’s and Sihks do. But no…)

Both partners came from Jerusalem’s large religious Jewish community
A 14-year-old Israeli girl has got a divorce from her 17-year-old husband, making her what media are describing as the country’s youngest divorcee.
The divorce came after a rabbinical court ruled that their wedding met the major requirements of Jewish law.

The two sweethearts had exchanged vows in front of friends, exchanged a ring, and the union had been consummated.

(HH here: so the kids did things “by the book” and the religious authorities considered them married. Isn’t that a refreshing change from clerics that will kill young people before allowing them to take their own faith in to their hands.)

When her parents found out what had occurred, they insisted on a religious divorce, which she initially refused.

Both partners come from traditionally religious Jewish families.

The religious court in Jerusalem …n held the divorce proceeding.

The divorce will go on the girl’s legal file, meaning that when she is 16, her identity card will say she is divorced.

One consequence of this is that – if she follows Jewish religious law – she will not be able to marry anyone with the name of Cohen, who are traditionally the Jewish priestly caste.