lunadelcorvo: (I meditate and I still want to choke...)
1. Being told how to feminist, how to call out racism, and how to phrase my critiques lest I drive away potential allies. Really? Like being an ally should be conditional on getting ego strokes and cookies! If you want to be a gorram ally, then be one! If my being angry AF b/c black boys are being killed and women are getting assaulted every damn day makes you not want to be an ally? Guess what, jackass, you weren't one to begin with, so take your sexist/racist arse the hell outta my way.

2. Being told that I am angry at god and cannot be moral/ethical b/c as an atheist. Punk, which one of us needs a book and an invisible sky-nanny to tell us right from wrong? (Spoiler alert; it ain't me!)

3. Explaining over and over, using as many one-syllable words as possible, why Tantrump is a disaster, and Sanders is neither a progressive nor a Democrat.

4. The weather flailing wildly about from 40 to 80 in a matter of hours. My sinuses are seriously about to explode. OMG, staahhhp!

5. Humana's customer phone service. OMG, just shoot me now! How can any one company have such dedicatedly bad service and make so many completely ridonkulous mistakes and still be the 800-pound corporate gorilla that it is astounds me.

6. Probably a bunch of other obnoxious garbage that I don't want to think about long enough to list. I am going to take a nap and then play games with my kid. Because reasons.

XOXO
lunadelcorvo: (Abstinence doesn't work)
(X-posted to a few relevant communities; please pardon me if you see this more than once, but do feel free to share!)

I've been trying to find some of the migrated communities that concerned themselves with the religious right in the Bush era, and found a few, though they seem to have gone dormant since, well, about when Obama took office. I guess we stopped worrying for a while.... But things have changed; a lot.

I do hope that they will revive themselves (I've been trying to contact admins, and not gotten much response), but in the meantime, I have gone ahead and started [community profile] anti_theocracy, a new community dedicated to gathering resources & information on theocracy and the activities of the religious right in the post-Obama era.

It is more imperative than ever that we be aware of what our politicians, religious and cultural leaders are up to, and what they stand for. I hope to make [community profile] anti_theocracy, a clearinghouse and resource for anyone concerned with religious overreach both in the US and abroad.

Please come by and join! I hope to have some solid informational pieces up in the next few days, and I welcome contributions from members.

Here is our Profile Page that has posting guidelines, and a little bit about the purpose of the community.

It's open for everyone to join, so I hope to see some folks there!
lunadelcorvo: (Where is all this stuff written?)
You may, if you've been here a while recall my ranting about the pitfalls of sloppily applied theory in the post-modern academia. (If not, it's here, and I posted another on the Sokal Hoax (which I can't locate ATM.)

Essentially, the Sokal Hoax refers to an article, written by a legit academic and submitted to a peer-reviewed, post modern, academic journal. The published it, and it drew all manner of praise, whereupon the author spring the gag - it was all gibberish, intended to specifically poke fun at the jargon-laden, pretention that is (all too often), PoMo academia. It made a big kerfluffle, and everyone was aghast, and nothing really changed. (There's even a post modern generator, if you'd like to craft your own meaningless theoretical garble: http://www.elsewhere.org/pomo/.)

But now, in response to the trend in theology towards an almost post-modern jargon-fest, typically aimed at harmonizing science and religion, a scholar has perpetrated his own 'Sokal-style' hoax. He cooked up a long blob if impenetrable gibberish, submitted it to a few Very Serious Theology conferences, and despite having offered up essentially word soup, was happily accepted. Read the whole account, together with his entry, here: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/a-sokal-style-hoax-by-an-anti-religious-philosopher-2/
lunadelcorvo: (Medieval Scholar)
I got into a (very civil, actually) discussion on FB about this. The other person began with a CS Lewis quote about how "I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God" is a fundamentally ludicrous idea. I replied that, given what we know of both history and text, the notion of accepting the ethical 'love your neighbor, care for the sick and the poor' message of the historical teacher, while remaining skeptical of claims to divinity is quite reasonable.

She reasserted that it was not really logically possible to accept even an ethical dimension to Jesus without accepting the divine, because Bible. And also CS Lewis. *eyeroll* Essentially, the argument is this: 1) Jesus was a great moral teacher (bible says so). 2) Jesus said he was divine (bible says so). 3) If he said he was divine and was not, he lied. 4) Great moral teachers do not lie (I say so). 5) Therefore, either Jesus was not a moral teacher, or he is divine.

Oh, the fallacies just abound in that little bit of reasoning! So here is my response: (cut for length; I do get rolling!) )

I've probably come across as a bit more 'appreciative of the mythology' than I am, but one must pick one's battles. In all honesty, I find a few of the supposed teachings of Christ to be quite fine, if stunningly basic and unoriginal, and others to be every bit as archaic and (in contemporary terms) backwards as one would expect from a male member of a first century patriarchal sacrificial cult. I do appreciate the tenacity and creativity of Christianity as a movement in the first few centuries; as socio-political or cultural trends go, it is certainly a unique success story in terms of adaptation, integration into society and having a knack for surviving....
lunadelcorvo: (Foucault discourse)
(They are gonna get good and riled over this one!) I recently assigned an essay where my students have to advance a position either in agreement or disagreement with Calvin's Predestination. I have gotten a couple of questions, and my classes have struggled with this essay in the past, so I decided to give them some nudges. It's a care theological question, and one which, to my mind, exposes some of the inherently irrational nature of 'traditional' thinking on the subject of God. So I thought I'd share:

"In response to a student question on Essay 3, I thought is might be helpful to share part of my response.

Consider the augments for predestination we have discussed in class, according to Calvin's Formulation (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Irresistible Grace, Limited Atonement, Perseverance of Saints) as well as anything you have learned or experienced that seems to argue against it. Then choose a position, and argue it using the critical thinking with which we began our course. Regardless of which side you choose, however, you need to argue your case from a logical, rational, critically-based position, not solely from a faith perspective. Naturally, your position may be informed by your experiences or things you have learned, but one cannot make a rational argument based only on belief.

As you proceed be careful; whether you argue for or against predestination, you must address the very real questions and corollaries that each a position entails. If you argue for predestination, it follows that one does not have the choice to believe or not believe; that too is predestined. Effectual calling turns you to belief irresistibly, you cannot 'not believe.' This is a very different thing than feeling you are a believer because you have been raised to be a believer, or feel strongly about your belief.

If one is predestined to be as you are today, are you in effect, 'running on a rail,' following a course set out for you? Are you able to deviate from that course? If you argue for predestination, you must also defend the fact that you are unable to deviate from the course set out for you, much as a train cannot deviate from its track. You may regard decisions along the way as forks in the track, but remember, it is not the train that chooses which route it will take, but the switcher, who routes trains where he wants them to go. Similarly, if salvation is predestined, and grace is irresistible, you do not choose which route you will take; the Holy Spirit moves you in that direction irresistibly. This does in effect deny free will, or at least functional free will (e.g. you can want to deviate from the course set out for you all you like, but you cannot actually do so).

Consider, too, how the notion of God having a plan for each individual life interacts with predestination. Is God's plan for you like those rails, from which you cannot deviate? Or do you have the free will to choose only among possible routes on those tracks? What if you choose a path that does not take you to your predestined destination? Could you even choose such a route? Or is it God's plan a 'plan' in the same way that we might make vacation plans, only to be foiled by the unexpected? Can things turn out differently than God plans them? Can we 'surprise' God? Can we 'foil' God's plans, by will or by accident? If we cannot, can we really say we have free will?

But if we can make choices which God does not expect, does not desire, or did not plan, then we are back to Elie Wiesel's question in the face of the Holocaust, and that of Europe in the face of the Black Death - if God is not in control, then why call him God? If we have the free will to act in ways that God does not anticipate, can we say that God is omniscient? If we have the ability to do things God does not want us to do, or to violate his plan, is he omnipotent? Certainly we would think God's plans far better devised than our own, so how could they go wrong merely because of choices we humans might make? If the fate of each soul is NOT predestined, is God able to save all humans, but chooses not to? Or is he unable to? These are some questions you must address if you argue against predestination.

Remember, these are difficult questions, and theologians have debated them for centuries. However, as scholars and thinkers, as people with curiosity and intellectual honesty, we cannot choose to back down from questions because they are difficult. We cannot simply shrug our shoulders, call it a mystery and walk away. Don't feel you need to solve the riddle (you'd be the first in human history to do so), but reflect on the problem with reason and critical thinking, not faith. Remember, for the purposes of our course, we approach questions as thinkers, not believers."

(P.S. I will take this chance to strongly urge each and every one of you to read Max Weber's Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. It is an absolutely seminal work, and one that I think is of supreme importance an relevance in Western Society, now more than ever. It's a dense read, but worth the work. Really. Go, buy it now! :D
lunadelcorvo: (Reason is out to lunch)
::I'm reposting this in light of the recent surge* in Santorum's popularity over the last few states.::

(The list is not mine, it comes to you courtesy of ThinkProgress.org; the original article is HERE.)

1) ANNUL ALL SAME-SEX MARRIAGES: Arguing that gay relationships “destabilize” society, Santorum wouldn’t offer any legal protections to gay relationships and has pledged to annul all same-sex marriages if elected president. During his 99-country tour of Iowa, Santorum frequently compared same-sex relationships to inanimate objects like trees, basketballs, beer, and paper towels and even tried to blame the economic crisis on gay people. As Santorum explained back in August, religious people have a constitutional right to discriminate against gays: “We have a right the Constitution of religious liberty but now the courts have created a super-right that’s above a right that’s actually in the Constitution, and that’s of sexual liberty. And I think that’s a wrong, that’s a destructive element.”

2) ‘I’M FOR INCOME INEQUALITY’: “They talk about income inequality. I’m for income inequality,” Santorum said during an event in Pella, Iowa in December. “I think some people should make more than other people, because some people work harder and have better ideas and take more risk, and they should be rewarded for it. I have no problem with income inequality.”

3) CONTRACEPTION IS ‘A LICENSE TO DO THINGS’: Santorum has pledged to repeal all federal funding for contraception and allow the states to outlaw birth control, insisting that “it’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

4) GAY SOLDIERS ‘CAUSE PROBLEMS FOR PEOPLE LIVING IN CLOSE QUARTERS’: During an appearance on Fox News Sunday in October, Santorum defended his support for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by arguing that gay soldiers would disrupt the military because “they’re in close quarters, they live with people, they obviously shower with people.” He also suggested that “there are people who were gay and lived the gay lifestyle and aren’t anymore.”

5) OBAMA SHOULD OPPOSE ABORTION BECAUSE HE’S BLACK: During an appearance on Christian television in January, Santorum said he was surprised that President Obama didn’t know when life began — given his skin color. “I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say ‘now we are going to decide who are people and who are not people,” he explained.

6) WE DON’T NEED FOOD STAMPS BECAUSE OBESITY RATES ARE SO HIGH: Speaking in Le Mars, Iowa in December, Santorum promised to significantly reduce federal funding for food stamps, arguing that the nation’s increasing obesity rates render the program unnecessary.

7) ABORTION EXCEPTIONS TO PROTECT WOMEN’S HEALTH ARE ‘PHONY’: While discussing his track record as a champion of the partial birth abortion ban in June, Santorum dismissed exceptions other senators wanted to carve out to protect the life and health of mothers, calling such exceptions “phony.” “They wanted a health exception, which of course is a phony exception which would make the ban ineffective,” he said.

8) HEALTH [CARE] REFORM WILL KILL MY CHILD: Santorum, who claims that Obamacare motivated him to run for president, told reporters in April that his daughter Bella — who was born with a genetic abnormality — wouldn’t survive in a country with “socialized medicine.” “Children like Bella are not given the treatment that other children are given.”

9) UNINSURED AMERICANS SHOULD SPEND LESS ON CELL-PHONE BILLS: During a meeting with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register in August, Santorum said that people who can’t afford health care should stop whining about the high costs of medical treatments and medications and spend less on non essentials. Answering a question about the uninsured, Santorum explained that health care, like a car, is a luxury resource that is rationed by society and recalled the story of a woman who said she was spending $200 a month on life-saving prescriptions. Santorum told her to stop complaining and instead lower her cable and cell phone bills.

10) INSURERS SHOULD DISCRIMINATE AGAINST PEOPLE WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS: Santorum sounded like a representative from the health insurance industry when he addressed a small group of high school students in Merrimack, New Hampshire in December. The former Pennsylvania senator not only defended insurers for denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, he also argued that individuals who are sick should pay higher premiums because they cost more money to insure.
Now, I don't really think Santorum is going to be the nominee. (Then again, taken individually, I'm not sure I can actually see any of them as an actual presidential candidate, but one of them must be. I just think this one is a little more outrageous than most.) However, I think that his near-miss in Iowa is informative on many levels. In 2008, Huckabee won Iowa, and look where that got him. Nevertheless, now, as then, I think that as non-predictive as these early caucuses may be, they bear noting, in that they tell us something about where the discussion ranges, about whether or not there are actual people who will go so far as to say "I think this is the best man to be the President of the United States."

Regardless of whether Santorum is as current in two month's time as Huckabee was in his turn after Iowa, he got this far. So did Ron Paul, come to mention it (whole post on that another time). I have tried to refrain from primary commentary (it's hardly been needed - all this lot needs is microphones, and the satire writes itself!), but I have been watching all of the GOP hopefuls and what they have been saying in the primaries (because we will, of course hear a totally different tune from whoever ends up the actual candidate. It's good to have notes to look back on to see what they've said to their own...)

What are your thoughts on Iowa, the primary at large, and the upcoming Nov 2012 election?

(*Why is it that so many, many words just sound *wrong* when used vis a vis Santorum?)
lunadelcorvo: (Shocked WTF Bugs Bunny)
1. GOProud - a GLBT group that says right on its home page that any of the GOP candidates are an improvement. Have you listened to a single word any of these yokels has said? Can't you get it through your heads that THEY HATE YOU! They want to limit you, enshrine the right to bully and mistreat you, marginalize if not criminalize you, blame you for the ills of the world present and past, and brainwash you by any means possible into being 'normal' e.g. straight. So tell me again why you support the GOP?

2. Anti-abortion activists that are also against contraception and sex ed. Do these people even know HOW pregnancies happen? It's a little like trying to prevent automotive fatalities by outlawing seat belts and driver's ed.

3. Low-income adults with no education railing against education, and in favor of kids leaving school at the first low-wage, menial job that comes along. Can you think of a better way to return to the days of a peasant class? Let's reinstitute the practice of apprenticeships too, and send our 10-year-olds to learn trades. (Oh, wait, Gingrich already proposed that.) Universal education is what brought us out of the 'dark ages,' and now you are not only rejecting it, you are fighting for the right to be ignorant?

4. The hue and cry over the abused sensitivities of Catholic institutions being forced to provide birth control as part of employee health insurance. But the majority of Catholics favor this. The only demographic that opposes offering birth control is evangelicals, who are apparently outraged over the mistreatment of Catholics who don't seem to feel mistreated. Many of these are doubtless the same evangelicals who think the Pope is the antiChrist, and the RC is the Whore of Babylon.....

I know none of this is new, and it's not the whole of it (or even, sadly, the worst of it) by a long shot. But tell me, when did we as a society, go completely batshit crazy?
lunadelcorvo: (Religion = Freaky)
I love this: Religious Intolerance, or 'What I Want to Say When Asked Why I Have a Problem with Religion.'
(You don't HAVE to read the post before this, but it will make a bit more sense of you do...)

I know this may really make some folks mad, particularly if you happen to be a religious literalist of any stripe. But I just can't keep forgiving the constant harm done by the childish refusal of my species to give up its fear of the dark and its need for a fairy-tale... (I have stated my position on that previously here*.) And I know what the argument in response tot he post linked above will be: people like this aren't 'real Christians (or Muslims, or jews or whatever).'

Sorry, nuh-uh. For one thing, that's a very basic fallacy of argument, known as the 'no true Scotsman' fallacy. You don't get to say that someone who does something awful in the name of Christianity isn't a Christian because you don't like what they did, or the way they understand your good book. You don't get to sneak out from under the atrocities done in the name of religion (like Crusades and Jihad and Hitler and misogyny) by saying those examples don't count.

There is a (terrifically important) difference between placing responsibility on religion as a social/cultural institution and placing responsibility on every religious person. The Catholic Church carries the blame for an ongoing pattern of child molestation, but that doesn't make every Catholic a child molester. That fact does not absolve the Church as an institution for those harms however. (Nor, incidentally, does whatever good it may have done absolve it from responsibility for harm it has done.)

Which beings me to the second point. The people in every one of the examples above did what they did based on their belief in the same god, the same book, the same basic doctrine. Their actions, however abhorrent**, can be and are grounded, defended, and supported from their source texts and doctrines. Regardless of the text in question, for every verse anyone cites showing that dreadful things are not to be done, there is one that says they should. So I submit that the problem is not with the interpretations of the doctrine after all. The problem is with the doctrine itself.

Why? Because it's ALL interpretation. Because it's all a bunch of archaic, vague, contradictory folklore gathered over centuries that can be used to justify pretty much any damned thing anyone wants it to. And because no one has the slightest whiff of evidence that *this* way of interpreting it is 'The Right Way.' But inherent in the very core of the idea is that 'my way' MUST be right, because if it's not, I lose. And at the end of the day, if one way *has* to be right...you see where I'm going here, don't you? So the very doctrine at it's core is predisposed to allow, justify, reify, and even mandate every one of the examples in the post referenced above. And THAT is why I have a problem with religion.
*It's not often one can really say they stand behind a post made on a rant 5 years previous!
**This means their direct actions and/or their defense of their actions (e.g. the Church vis a vis child molestation, for example).
lunadelcorvo: (Clio Muse of History)
I really want to say no. I really want to insist that the 'Texas has the right to secede,' 'I'm proud of how many people I've executed, never mind if some of them were innocent,' NAR/Dominionist Perry is too far right even for the Tea-party-crazed, ever more radical right wing to nominate. I'd like to, but I can't. Because I'm not certain he isn't going to end up being the Republican nominee.

This article on DK is a better overview of why than I could assemble: The Republican Debate: Rick Perry may be the candidate the GOP has been looking for (though look to see a long post about Perry of my own drafting soon).

The ultimate question in the face of a Perry nomination then, is whether he is sufficiently outrageous and repugnant to bring out the left, despite feeling abused, ignored and forgotten by our representatives, including the President. In part, I think that will depend on how closely the left is watching the GOP field now, in the run-up to the primaries, and how long their memories are once the nominee rewrites his (or her) entire rhetoric to aim towards the center for the election itself.

Which is why I think it is really important for everyone with even the slightest lean to the left being rational, sane, or reasonable to watch closely what these candidates are saying now, when they are speaking to their own.
lunadelcorvo: (Default)
THanks again to Talk2Action, a really good article that clarifies a lot of the 'media muddle' that the recent discussion of dominionism and the New Apostolic Reformation has stirred around the airwaves. Fairly short, but detailed and readable. Definitely worth a look.

| Inside the Christian Right Dominionist Movement That's Undermining Democracy
lunadelcorvo: (Celtic Queen)
Just wanted to boosT the signal on this excellent piece on National Public Radio's Fresh Air:

The New Apostolic reformation: The Evangelicals Engaged In Spiritual Warfare

It represents what I believe to be the first serious, relatively mainstream, piece on the New Apostolic Reformation to hit the airwaves. As such it is a terrifically important piece of journalism in terms of (hopefully) opening up some real dialog on what motivates the current crop of religious right movers in politics. Give it a listen: there is a streaming version and a PodCast version, or a transcript online if you'd rather read it.
lunadelcorvo: (Atheist Scarlet Letter A)
Paranoia and the Progressive Press: A Response to WaPo’s Religion Columnist's Article "Beware False Prophets who Fear Evangelicals"

This is an excellent article that deftly refutes the Washington Post's OpEd column accusing the "liberal media"* of paranoia and scare tactics in their reporting on the extreme religious views of candidates like Bachmann and Perry. However, the author also puts the realities of dominionism in today's political arena in perspective: as a real entity, with significant support, that needs to be taken seriously by meeia and voters on both left and right. Give it a read!

(*One of these days I'm going to have to make a "right wing commentary drinking game" based on every assertion that the media is liberally-slanted! [If only!])
lunadelcorvo: (Default)

I am a big fan of PBS in general. So when a documentary series covering the history of the Inquisition and some of the major heretical movements in medieval Europe showed up on my Netflix recommendations list, I was cautiously optimistic. (I say cautiously because so far, in my experience, history documentaries tend to be dismal in terms of you know, actual history, having instead an alarming and overwhelming tendency to favor sensationalism over fact every time.) But being PBS, I thought the chances of some actual history leaking in were good. Ah, hope springs eternal! Sadly, I was disappointed.

Read the review below the fold )
lunadelcorvo: (Violets & Letters)
Fight Over Worship at Schools Puts Bronx Church in Spotlight
The Bronx Household of Faith has held services in PS/MS 15 for the past nine years.

When the leaders of Bronx Household of Faith, an evangelical Christian congregation based in University Heights, first approached the city, in 1994, about using its public schools to hold worship services, they didn’t think much of it. They certainly did not think they would find themselves, 17 years later, fighting for freedom of religion and speech as part of a back-and-forth legal case that could end up in front of the Supreme Court. (the entire story is here: http://www.bronxnewsnetwork.org/2011/06/fight-over-worship-at-schools-puts.html)


In short, the church group is claiming discrimination since they have been denied use of the school, while other groups can use it. There is much hand-wringing(as I read it) over the light of the members and how hard it is to find a space to worship. All in all, it all sounds a little fishy to me, like this is a manufactured case intended to test limits of legislation. How does a small church group, too broke to be able to rent, share, or buy space have the money to keep fighting a legal case like this? If the Alliance Defense Fund (a conservative Christian legal group dubbed the “the ACLU for Christians”), are footing the bill, it's even more fishy in that regard; this seems the perfect sort of banner case for a Neo-con group like the ADF.

In any case, I don't think that they can really cry discrimination based on the fact that non-religious groups (e.g. Boy Scouts) are allowed to use the space. Were it a question of a group of one religion being granted access while they were not, then there would arguably be discrimination at work. However, the decision to refrain from allowing ANY religious group does not discriminate based upon religion, it merely maintains separation between the school system and any religious group or denomination, as it should.

That this group chose to 'found' a church without having adequate space available is irrelevant to the question of their right to access. As I've seen on buttons and bumper stickers, 'Your lack of planning does not constitute my emergency.' In other words, their lack of space to worship does not seem to give them any kind of special entitlement to access. While it is indeed unfortunate that they have been unable to procure an appropriate space, perhaps the members of this group should take this into account in their consideration of whether the leader of the group is indeed qualified to lead such an organization.

I wonder how this will play out, and what sort of precedents will be set here....
lunadelcorvo: (Facepaw Lion)
(GENOA) — The latest sex-abuse case to rock the Catholic Church is unfolding in the archdiocese of an influential Italian Cardinal who has been working with Pope Benedict XVI on reforms to respond to prior scandals of pedophile priests.

Father Riccardo Seppia, a 51-year-old parish priest in the village of Sastri Ponente, near Genoa, was arrested last Friday, May 13, on pedophilia and drug charges. Investigators say that in tapped mobile-phone conversations, Seppia asked a Moroccan drug dealer to arrange sexual encounters with young and vulnerable boys. "I do not want 16-year-old boys but younger. Fourteen-year-olds are O.K. Look for needy boys who have family issues," he allegedly said. Genoa Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, who is the head of the Italian Bishops Conference, had been working with Benedict to establish a tough new worldwide policy, released this week, on how bishops should handle accusations of priestly sex abuse.

According to investigators, Seppia told a friend — a former seminarian and barman who is currently under investigation — that the town's malls were the best places to entice minors. In tapped phone conversations the two cursed and swore against God. The priest is charged with having attempted to kiss and touch an underage altar boy and of having exchanged cocaine for sexual intercourse with boys over 18.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2072613,00.html?xid=rss-world

And further updates, courtesy (as was the above article) of [livejournal.com profile] _53:

Update 1: Italian site Reppublica Genova quotes the accused as admitting to being gay, HIV positive, a cocaine user. He still denies abuse of children (the translated article says 'to 10,' which doesn't rule out child abuse in my book...). And naturally, the Church blames those crazy 1960s.
lunadelcorvo: (Medieval Scholar)
My personal contention is yes, it is. And I'm getting really tired of everyone from academics to mainstream media spouting this whole "The Religious Right is dead, the Tea Party is the thing now" business. To ignore the religious underpinnings of the Tea Party is dangerous, because in all the ways that matter, they are the same thing. Perhaps not down to every supporter on the ground, but the big movers, the big issues, and the big goals are overwhelmingly the same. So firstly, how much overlap does there need to be before it becomes a concern to anyone who opposed the growing extremism of the Religious Right? Secondly, how much overlap do we need until it no longer matters what name we call it, only what it's doing?

In my opinion, we are long past having enough overlap to get us there. The Tea Party is to the Religious Right what Intelligent Design is to Young-Earth Biblical Creationism; an attempt to use rhetorical smoke and mirrors to disguise a religious cause as a political one, and thereby draw allies from those with similar concerns (in this case social and political conservatism) who might otherwise be put off by the overt religious nature of the core movement.

Look below the cut for the details, beginning with some info and articles from the last year that seem to support my hypothesis. )

So we can say this: the Tea Party certainly does not seem to be strictly libertarian, nor are its aims purely economic; they extend to social issues as well. We know Sarah Palin, the Tea Party darling, is deeply tied to the Religious Right, and so are two of the most visible libertarians, Ron Paul and the Tea Party poster boy, Rand Paul. All three, and the Tea Party itself show a closer alignment to the Constitution Party, which we can easily see has an overtly religious stance.

So what do you think? Tea Party = Religious Right? Yeah, me, too.
lunadelcorvo: (Facepaw Polar bear)
Published on Right Wing Watch (http://www.rightwingwatch.org)

Religious Right Brings Back the Halal Meat Panic




lunadelcorvo: (Facepaw Polar bear)
Published on Right Wing Watch (http://www.rightwingwatch.org)

Religious Right Brings Back the Halal Meat Panic




lunadelcorvo: (Wall of Separation)
"At best, a throwback to primitivism -- at worst, unconstitutional political posturing and manipulation..."

An Atheist public policy group denounced Sunday's "Day of Prayer" by Southern governors as a political stunt which is exploiting an environmental tragedy in order to win votes and promote religion and as, incidentally, a clear violation of Christian biblical principles.

"At best, this is a bronze age response to disaster," declared Dr. Ed Buckner, President of American Atheists. "This is just another example of how some political leaders use religion to win votes, garner public sympathy, and lead people to believe that superstition trumps the need for good planning and responsible public policy. These governors are plainly hypocrites as defined, allegedly in words from Jesus, in Matthew 6:5-6."

The Governors of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, along with the lieutenant Governor of Florida, all issued proclamations declaring Sunday, June 27, 2010, a Day of Prayer and urged citizens to engage in religious ritual in hopes of finding a solution to the growing oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

"This is about as deep as you can get when it comes to promoting irrationality and faith-based superstition," added Dr. Buckner. "We have another example of public officials telling citizens when and how to pray, whether to pray, and what to pray for."

Dave Silverman, Vice President and Communications Director for American Atheists, said that prayer is never a suitable substitute for sound public policy, environmental safeguards, and sensible planning for catastrophic emergencies.

"I doubt that Jesus or some angel is suddenly going to descend from the sky with millions of feet of boom, or more barges to suck up the leaking oil," said Mr. Silverman. "If prayer really worked, why is it that so far, anyway, God seems to be ignoring the suffering all along the gulf?"

Dr. Buckner added, "Perhaps the politicians need to get up off their knees and spend more time mobilizing the resources to deal with this catastrophe. That should not include offering false hope or ridiculous suggestions for the people being affected by this event.”

Personally, while I certainly am in complete agreement with this denunciation of a backward and utterly unconstitutional thing, I am even more concerned and disgusted that it's even necessary. Honestly, these days, I find myself wondering with increasing trepidation, how the extremism building in the US can possibly be reconciled without massive violence, or at the very least, massive upheaval. It's not a pretty thought, but with the right/religious right so far over the sanity line, and the very real threats to our environment, our food supply, our health, our society- I just can't see it ending well.
AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for Atheists, Freethinkers and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.

AMERICAN ATHEISTS, INC.
http://www.atheists.org
http://www.americanatheist.org

American Atheists, Inc. PO BOX 158, Cranford, NJ 07016
Tel.: (908) 276-7300 Fax: (908) 276-7402

For more information, please contact:
Ed Buckner, President 908-499-9200 (cell) or 770-803-5353 (office/fax)
Dave Silverman, Communications Director 732-648-9333
lunadelcorvo: (Oh puh-lease!)
This isn't exactly new, but it's worth noting:http://www.kentucky.com/2008/11/28/608229/anti-terror-law-requires-god-be.html
The 2006 law organizing the state Office of Homeland Security lists its initial duty as "stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth."

Specifically, Homeland Security is ordered to publicize God's benevolent protection in its reports, and it must post a plaque at the entrance to the state Emergency Operations Center with an 88-word statement that begins, "The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God."

State Rep. Tom Riner, a Southern Baptist minister, tucked the God provision into Homeland Security legislation as a floor amendment that lawmakers overwhelmingly approved two years ago. As amended, Homeland Security's religious duties now come before all else, including its distribution of millions of dollars in federal grants and its analysis of possible threats.

The time and energy spent crediting God are appropriate, said Riner, D-Louisville, in an interview this week. "This is recognition that government alone cannot guarantee the perfect safety of the people of Kentucky," Riner said. "Government itself, apart from God, cannot close the security gap. The job is too big for government."
There is one (only one!!!!!!) group, American Atheists, that filed suit to challenge the constitutionality of the law. The suit faced tremendous criticism because they were seeking monetary redress for 'damages.' However, apparently they had no choice. According to a ruling of the US Supreme Court, citizens cannot sue the government for church/state separation issues without damages. SO the very thing which is drawing the most flack with regard to this lawsuit is necessary in order for it to even have legal standing. (I'd love to know how was behind that ruling, because it certainly seems to hamper legitimate constitutional challenges.)

However, there was a veritable pantheon of the Lunatic Right Fringe's most luminary arrayed on the other side, including defrocked Alabama Chief Supreme Court Justice Judge Roy Moore, president of the Foundation for Moral Law in Montgomery, Ala. Moore was kicked out of office as Attorney General for refusing to abide by a court ruling ordering the removal of the 10 commandments monument he installed on the Alabama State Court House rotunda in the dead of night.

Moore is also one of 35 attorneys defending Kentucky's God Defense law. His foundation just happened to be the hosts of the 2010 Alabama Secession Day Commemoration, which featured speakers such those from the "League of the South, a neo-Confederate hate group that considers slavery 'God-ordained' and advocates for 'the cultural dominance of the Anglo-Celtic people and their institutions.'" (Quote from Ed Hensley, of American Atheists). Hensley also notes that while the Foundation for Moral Law denies sponsoring the event, they did end up raking in all the proceeds.

So. the suit prevailed, and is currently under appeal by the state of Kentucky. Apparently, the state government, far from being relieved of the burden of such an inane law, actually will go to great lengths (to say nothing of great expense, footed by the taxpayers), to restore it! Ironically, those same taxpayers will froth at the mouth because government isn't spending enough on creating jobs for them, and is constantly raging about taxes being too high. I wonder if they know how much is spent on stuff like this?

And, we learn that those who wish to challenge the constitutionality of a blatant violation of separation of church and state are not only forced to appear as money-grubbing ambulance chasers for being required to seek damages, they must then run a gauntlet of barely legitimate Religious Right loonies, funded by secessionists and white supremacists. Yay.
lunadelcorvo: (Medieval Facepalm)
Well, you may get the chance! Seems there is at least some folks who think a new Crusade to liberate the Levant from the Infidels is a dandy idea!

Read it here: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/04/19/imagine-the-loss-of-the-christian-holy-places/comment-page-1/#comment-12488, though I will give you a sample:
"Later it hit me: What if the mad leader of Iran fulfilled his pledge to wipe Israel from the map with the Iranian nuclear weapon, coming soon? What would we Christians do without the Mount of the Sermon?

Without Capernaum? Without Nazareth? Without Cana?

Without the lovely and mystical city of Jerusalem–without Golgotha, and the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Tomb?

Back in the 1940’s, when Reinhold Niebuhr started Christianity in Crisis to support the war against Nazism, he abandoned his earlier pacifism, and his earlier too-simply pious way of wishing evil away, and called for a new tough-minded Christian realism.

He rooted this realism in the writings of St. Augustine....We do not have much time to wait before getting that argument going. We must get it done soon, in order to be able to act in time.

What is at stake is whether any future Christians will be able to sit and pray where Our Lord Jesus once preached the unforgettable Sermon. And much else besides.
Compare his words to that of Pope Urban II's call to the first Crusade, here: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/urban2-5vers.html. Here's a highlight:
"From the confines of Jerusalem and the city of Constantinople a horrible tale has gone forth and very frequently has been brought to our ears, namely, that a race from the kingdom of the Persians, an accursed race, a race utterly alienated from God, a generation forsooth which has not directed its heart and has not entrusted its spirit to God, has invaded the lands of those Christians and has depopulated them by the sword...it has either entirely destroyed the churches of God or appropriated them for the rites of its own religion...Let the holy sepulchre of the Lord our Saviour, which is possessed by unclean nations, especially incite you, and the holy places which are now treated with ignominy and irreverently polluted with their filthiness.

On whom therefore is the labor of avenging these wrongs and of recovering this territory incumbent, if not upon you? You, upon whom above other nations God has conferred remarkable glory in arms, great courage, bodily activity, and strength to humble the hairy scalp of those who resist you."
So, lovely! Seems what we really need, folks, is a new Crusade to the Holy Land! Admittedly (and I am happy to report it), the comments on Novak's essay seem to show most of the readers think he's as nuts as I do. But still, nut-cases tend to be like cockroaches; for every one you see, there's probably a hundred you don't.... And while this sentiment is nothing new among the more extremely evangelical circles, this goon may be the first to all but plagiarize Pope Urban II.....
lunadelcorvo: (Atheist Scarlet Letter A)
The 'establishment of religion' clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation' between Church and State.

- Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, February 10, 1947
Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947)
lunadelcorvo: (Medieval Facepalm)
The Blame Game:

The range of excuses offered up by various ecclesiastics for the child abuse scandal is amazing. Admittedly, these come from disparate entities, and don't [seem to] represent a unified position on the part of the Vatican. Still, we've been talking about this for a while now, and you'd think by this point they'd have their talking points laid out. Further, even if these statements are not official, I don't see any of them being condemned as wrong. Official statements distance themselves from them, yes, but I have yet to see anyone say 'No, that is not consistent with Church doctrine.' And in fact, none of them are inconsistent with Church doctrine, which, as I see it, is a big part of the problem to begin with....

Satan Behind Media Attacks on the Pope, Asserts Italian Exorcist

Vatican Attacked Over Cardinal's Claim of Homosexuality and Pedophilia Link

Bishop Blames Jews for Child Molestation Scandal

"Media Bias and Catholic Bashing" by Bill Donohue, President, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

At Vatican Service, Priest Likens Abuse Allegations To Anti-Semitism

Vatican Cardinals Claim Sex Abuse Claims Have Been Orchestrated by Enemies of the Pope

Stuff Catholics Have So Far Blamed for the Church's Pedophilia Scandal

Social Justice?

US Catholic officials are fighting AGAINST extensions to the statute of limitations on reporting of sex abuse, under claims ranging from the bills being 'designed to bankrupt the Church' to a trend of 'anti-Catholic sentiment, even when those bills do not target (or even mention) the Catholic Church. This is being reported even by Catholic news organizations.

Beltway Cardinals Oppose Abuse Extension Bills, Many Cite Nationwide Anti-Catholic Trend

Connecticut Bishops Fight Sex Abuse Bill

Religious Leaders Battle Abuse Bill in New York

[Wisconsin] State Bishops Oppose Legislation to Repeal Statute of Limitations [on Child Abuse]

(Crazy Vatican makes medieval monk [see userpic] cry.)
lunadelcorvo: (Oh puh-lease!)
Quote from an article on Religion Dispatches about gun-toting tea-party goers:
The Constitution Party is frequently dismissed as a fringe party of little electoral consequence, even though its significance lies elsewhere. It is in fact a steaming hotbed of far-right factions with theocratic, vigilante, and sometimes revolutionary ideas whose like-minded members get together to make their plans, just like any other organized faction in American public life. The party says it is 100% pro-life and pro-gun. (emphasis is mine)
Now, let's just think about that for a moment. Even in a movement which can accept claims like those of the tea party, the biblical literalists, and the Tim LaHayes of the world, this statement seems to require a level of doublethink even George Orwell could not help but be impressed by. And terrified....

(Here's the story, and it's a damned disturbing one at that, I might add: "[I] Pray For Barack Obama To Die And Go To Hell”: The Story The Media Missed)

And, please, can someone explain to me how "Democracy" means "If we can't have things our way, we'll take over with guns and make everyone live our way?" Plzkthnx....
lunadelcorvo: (Default)
The entire Catholic Church sex business is altogether revolting from the word go, but it has taken on a new level of WTF. The idea that criticism of the pope, and the RCC as an institution is bigotry, because it collectivizes guilt. Well, I have two rather significant problems with that statement.

One, to be honest is related to the source. Do you mean to tell me that Donahue is going to stand up and cry foul when an institution is criticized because of what some of its members have done, and for some of its policies? Really? To that I say: Planned Parenthood. N.O.W. How about the Catholic social services that have closed their doors when told they had to employ fair hiring practices, or had to serve clients of all faiths and orientation? How many institutions or organizations have been blacklisted, lambasted, vilified and their associates branded collaborators by not only Donahue, but the other voices croaking out this same spiel? Sucks being painted with a big fat brush, doesn't it, you bigoted prick? The irony here goes so far beyond irony as to need a bigger vocabulary.

But more seriously, there is a disambiguation going on here between a body of Catholics worldwide and the institution of the Church. The difference is subtle, but vital. For one thing, to discuss the guilt of the Church is not the same thing as collectivizing 'guilt' with regard to a minority group. Saying all black people, or all Jews, or all gays, are guilty of X because some of that group did X - that IS collectivization of guilt. However, saying that a self-organized, institutional entity is guilty of thing X, which it did/sanctioned/contributed to is not. The institution is not its members. Which is why, when the media criticizes the RCC, is is not "Catholic bashing."

Furthermore, it isn't even 'priest-bashing,' any more than for example, media criticism of a police force for not taking action against corruption on a police force is 'cop-bashing.' If a department has a rash of cops going bad, it does serious damage to the image of the department as a whole. Police departments know this, and take swift, decisive, public action to remove those who abused their power from further access to that power. Why?

Because beyond the individual crimes (which themselves are worth appropriate sanction, regardless of who commits them - blind Justice, remember?) there stands a symbol, and the impact those crimes have upon it. If a uniform and a badge are to stand as symbols of trust, safety, respect, and protection, then abusers of that symbol MUST be swiftly dealt with. If any police officer is to be trusted, the symbol must be reclaimed.

Until the guilty are removed, we may know full well that not every police officer is a craven abuser, but we are simultaneously painfully aware that any officer *could* be. Who wants to play Russian roulette? This is the criticism of the Church, and it is entirely fair and deserved.

Until the Church, as an institution, acts swiftly, decisively, and publicly to remove those who abused their power from further access to that power, it matters not that we know not every priest is an abuser. We also know that any priest *could* be. We know this because we know abusers still wear the collar. It's not about Catholics, or even priests. It's about the symbol.

The attempt to muddy the waters by crying discrimination, bigotry and Catholic-bashing are just that - misdirection. And incidentally, if there was EVER an institution that should have its ass kicked around the Vatican walls for having the nuts to squeal "collectivization of guilt...' well you know. And don't even get me started on that Easter sermon "concentration camp" crap....
lunadelcorvo: (Grrrrr!)
Nebraska lawmakers on Monday gave final approval to a first-of-its-kind measure requiring women to be screened for possible mental and physical problems before having abortions.

The measure is unusual, however, in spelling out what factors doctors must consider when doing the screenings. [Greg] Schleppenbach [of the National Catholic Conference] said that’s because doctors otherwise would turn to other abortion providers to set the standards for the medical community.

The bill requires a doctor or other health professional to screen women to determine whether they were pressured into having abortions. The screenings also would assess whether women have risk factors that could lead to mental or physical problems after an abortion.

http://www.religiondispatches.org/blog/religiousright/2458/you’re_crazy_

Read the article. I can't really comment coherently on this, as I am too stunned. I mean, this passed? This is a law now? What year is this again?
lunadelcorvo: (Wall of Separation)
OK. So a Buddhist Temple here was vandalized, with specifically Christian messages spray painted on the temple and signage, and statues defaced. This is the second time this has happened this year. (Story here and here)

In the comments on both of those stories, one can find statements like "It's not fair to assume the people who did this were Christian." and similar sentiments. Now look, I'm not saying this one act can be laid at the feet of all Christians everywhere. That's a basic fallacy of composition. However, I think it is absolutely fair to assume that it was done by a Christian, with an agenda of intimidation. The messages read "Buddah is in hell" not "Gooks go home." That would certainly seem to indicate that the motive isn't racist, it's not anti-immigrant, it's not an outburst of stress brought on by tough competition for jobs in hard times.

The temple was covered in crosses and sayings like "Christ lives." The motive is religious. Pure and simple. It is one more example of the mindset that this is a Christian country, and 'pagans,' like athiests, are not welcome here in the 'land-of-the-free-to-be-Christian.' However, the more serious problem lies in the immediate leap to defend the obvious religious motivation here.

When we then engage in dialog not about why religiously motivated hate crimes occur and are allowed (even sanctioned, though there has been no sanction, but also no condemnation from area churches in this case), but in attempting to diffuse the issue we ourselves facilitate those very crimes. Regardless of how one chooses to construe the Harris Poll's findings, I think it is quite clear that the rhetoric of violence, rebellion and insurrection in the name of Christianity is on an alarming rise. The 'Tea Party' movement has been proclaimed the 'new face of American democracy,' after all, and Palin is flogging the 'new revolution.'

And that makes this one act of violence significant. it makes every act of violence on religious (or political) grounds significant. We cannot keep excusing this. We cannot keep defending it, or dismissing it as a "few extreme individuals." Let's call a spade a spade, and let's get over our hesitation to call BULLSHIT when apologists try to de-emphasize the role of religion in hate crime.
lunadelcorvo: (Keys)
Even if I DID believe...
Essay ©Tim Maroney, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Originally posted here, Dec 30 1983. (Reposted, with permission from author pending.)

I am not a Christian. In my discussions of this fact with Christians, I have repeatedly run into one major misunderstanding. The Christians assume that if I believed the Bible were true, I would become a Christian; that is, they believe that my reason for not being a Christian is that I don’t believe in their god. This is not the case.

One disclaimer: The thesis of this essay is that even if a God as described in the Bible does exist, he is not fit for worship due to his low moral standards. Consequently, I speak sometimes as if I did believe the Bible, when in fact I do not.

If I had undeniable proof of the existence of Yahweh, aka Jehovah, aka Adonai, aka El Shaddai, aka Yahweh Elohim, the father of Jesus and the ancient leader of the Semitic peoples, I still would not worship the bastard. If an angel appeared to me and removed my appendectomy scar so I could never deny the reality of divine power, I still would not be a Christian. My primary reason for not being a Christian or Jew has nothing to do with my lack of belief in their god. My primary reason is that the Bible is a disgusting book describing the behavior of a god without the morality of an average high school student.

The rest of the essay under the cut )
This essay thanks to the ever-erudite [livejournal.com profile] doctoreon, who shared it in response to my last post. And I am sharing it because, alongside the applications of my logical and rational facilities which reject religious literalism of any stripe, lies a deep ethical abhorrence for so many aspects of the Judeo-Christian construct. This is one of those aspects, and the good Mr. Maroney has elucidated it better than I ever could.

And yes, it seems I am going public (in a limited fashion) again. I will be going back and re-opening a lot of my posts, though due to the recent blog-stalking unpleasantness, many will remain f-locked.
lunadelcorvo: (Manuscript in hand)
...Literalist Megatronians and other related strangeness
An essay by [livejournal.com profile] dave_littler, re-posted with permission.

“Listen, I realize that Lord of the Rings is just a story written by one guy, okay? I’m not one of those fundamentalists who believes everything that Tolkien said just because it’s in some book. I don’t believe in Sauron or anything. That’s obviously bullshit. I do believe in Gandalf the Grey, though, don’t get me wrong. I believe that he was some kind of wizard, and that he had some part to play in leading the Fellowship of the Ring in destroying the One Ring, I just don’t believe in all that obviously made-up stuff in Lord of the Rings.”

Imagine if someone said this to you. Imagine how absolutely taken aback you would be by what they were saying. For someone to say that they acknowledge that a work of fiction is a work of fiction and yet that one of the main characters of that work of fiction, who was invented in order to fulfill a role within that narrative, was nevertheless a real entity. Would that be more ridiculous or less ridiculous than a person who believed the story itself to be a true story? At least someone who believed Lord of the Rings was a historical tale could be forgiven, on some level, for believing that the people described within it to have been real people; after all, the events could hardly have been real if the people who enacted these events did not actually exist.

The rest of the essay can be found in this entry at the community [livejournal.com profile] atheist, and it's an intriguing read!
lunadelcorvo: (W T F? Kitten)
http://reformed-theology.org/html/books/slavery/southern_slavery_as_it_was.htm

This is a Christian Slavery Apologetic. No, really. This article is a diatribe about how slavery in the south wasn't all bad, only the parts that were not in conformity with 'biblical slavery,' and 'biblical slavery' is OK, and fine and good because the Bible says so.

I quote:
"Provided he owns them in conformity to Christ's laws for such situations, the Bible is clear that Christians may own slaves."
And
"Today if an abortionist sought membership at either of our churches, he would be refused unless he repented and abandoned his murderous practice. But if our churches had existed in the ante bellum South, and a godly slave owner sought membership, we could not refuse him without seeking to be holier than Christ. Such a desire would be wicked, and this wickedness was at the heart of the abolitionist dogma."
This nutjob claims that Southern slave owners vigorously opposed the slave trade as 'wicked,' but evinced no hypocrisy by owning slaves. After all, they were doing the poor slaves a favor by taking them into Christian homes...
"The slave trade was an abomination. The Bible condemns it, and all who believe the Bible are bound to do the same. Owning slaves is not an abomination. The Bible does not condemn it, and those who believe the Bible are bound to refrain in the same way. But if we were to look in history for Christians who reflected this biblical balance — i.e. a hatred of the slave trade and an acceptance of slavery in itself under certain conditions — we will find ourselves looking at the ante bellum South."
I mean, wow. Seriously?

Read the article - I can't begin to relate how mind-boggling it is. The level of mental contortion required to actually advance such a position is... well, it's bloody insane.
lunadelcorvo: (Foucault Power)
Christian discipline drawing criticism even from Christians

The two cases discussed are here and here. There is another excellent Salon article on the phenomenon here.
When the hell are we going to deal with this crap? When are we going to realize that parents usually don't dream up this stuff on their own? In no way do I exonerate a parent who can beat their child to death without knowing it's wrong, but the Pearls and others with similar rhetoric are to blame as well. "Doesn't advocate abuse?" Seriously? In whose dictionary is advising a parent to use plumbing line to strike their child (as young as 6-12 months!) NOT abuse?

What really bothers me is that this stuff is not broadly pursued with any real vigor because it hides behind a bogus screen of religious freedom. Individuals who go to far are sometimes (but not always) convicted of what it really is: abuse, murder, torture. But the broad problem gets a minor mention at the bottom of the article, with words like 'suspect,' 'may be influenced.' Why? Why is this not a center stage issue?

I'll tell you why. First, imagine a Muslim family that did this in the US; beat a child to death in the name of religious discipline. What a shitstorm that would be! Or a Wicca parent, using a switch to instill their religious values (supposedly just as well protected)? We look the other way on this stuff because as a society, we are scared to confront the Christian gloss on it, and it perpetrators hide behind that gloss, knowing it protects them. I call bullshit!!!!!!
lunadelcorvo: (Ask the devil to behave)
[Error: unknown template qotd]Hell, yes. I can relate on a very casual, or very formal level (like co-workers, in-laws, etc.) with pro-Lifers, Right-wingers, and religio-conservatives when I have no choice. But I simply cannot maintain any kind of serious dialog with someone who is so fundamentally opposed to everything I hold to be the highest goods and most cherished human rights and responsibilities, and things which are blatantly evident to even the most basic of honest rationalism and critical thought.

I acknowledge that I am something of an elitist (which may, in itself, be an understatement, things at which I lately feel I excel), but I find I cannot hold these people in anything but contempt. If you think global warming denial (like holocaust denial, and the 'reclaiming of Senator McCarthy) should be taught in schools, you are an idiot and I want no further discussion with you. If you truly believe the universe revolves around the earth, and that early man put saddles on dinosaurs, you are a moron who has no business holding adult responsibilities, because you are clearly very far out of touch with reality. And if you think Obama is the antichrist, that it's perfectly OK for politicians to operate in secret, ostensibly Christian cabals, and the big business is honest and fair, kindly hand over your voter's registration card, your car keys, any college degrees you may, inexplicably, have acquired, and most of all your sense of righteous indignation, because you have not earned the right to use any of them.

Am I another shade of bigot for thinking people who voluntarily choose to suspend their intellect and instead worship unreason, illogic, and chicanery have no right to participate in the business of being a responsible citizen? Perhaps. But treating these people with kid-gloves and that most offensive of all tropes, 'toleration,' has gotten us where we are today, which is pretty much royally screwed in terms of things like health & healthcare, education, religious freedom, equal rights, environmental conditions, sustainable energy and all those frivolous things us liberals care so much about. I know this is a rather non-P.C. position. Fine. Polar bears will be extinct in my son's lifetime, thousands die annually in the richest nation on the globe for lack of affordable insurance or health care, and rights for women and gays are only slightly improved over the stone age. P.C. isn't working. F*&k P.C.
lunadelcorvo: (Oceania)
...people thought I was a tin-foil hat-wearing conspiracy loon for suggesting things like this. *sigh* Good days, good days. Clearly, however, those days are OVER.



From the article on www.talktoaction.org:
According to the Washington Post the house is owned by Youth With a Mission D.C. Youth With a Mission is one of the most extensive Christian fundamentalist para-church organizations on Earth, and YWAM founder leader Loren Cunningham has publicly outlined a vision for Christian world-control.

In a 2008 promotional video, "Reclaiming 7 Mountains of Culture", Loren Cunningham describes a vision he shared along with the late Christian theologian Francis Schaeffer, in which Christian fundamentalists could achieve world domination by taking over key sectors of society such as business, government, media, and education.
lunadelcorvo: (Abstinence doesn't work)


A-frakkin'-men!

I know a few women on campus who wear hijabs, and one who wears a burka, and I think it's tragic, barbaric, and utterly backward. One girl in particular, I would otherwise have tremendous respect for, but I see her in that damned headgear, and I want to shake her until her teeth rattle. WTF is WRONG with women who do this?

And he is SO right - it's NOT about modesty; there are better ways of being 'modest' than sticking out like an 'in your face,' sore thumb. Get real! And it's NOT about removing gender from the social equation, because hello? men don't wear this crap, and you're pretty quick to pretty it up, wear jewelry, high heels, and so on. So don't tell me it's because you are trying to be seen as a person, not as a sexual object - bullshit!

Of course, the burka is the most offensive (yes, I said offensive!) garment of all of them, and I fully agree it should be banned in Europe and in the US, and anywhere damn else it can be banned. Tolerance only goes so far folks!
lunadelcorvo: (Medieval Scholar)
1. What faith were you born into or raised with (if any)?
None. I was raised by a lover of mythology, and two militant atheist/agnostics. ("I know it's all bullsh*t, and you don't know what your talking about!")

2. Were you devout as a child/adolescent?
Nope, not a bit of it. I wasn't even baptized until my folks decided that I would do better in a parochial school, as the public schools where I grew up were a little iffy.

3. If you are not currently practicing your childhood faith, what led you away from it?
Since I didn't have one then, I suppose I am still 'practicing' it now. I went through one very brief period where I tried to be Christian, as I was in a Christian high school, but that failed pretty quickly. (after all, in a family of atheists, how else does one rebel?) I have had a long and tempestuous relationship with Wicca/Paganism, and we ultimately decided it was best if we stayed close friends....

4. How many religious denominations, traditions, and/or groups have you belonged to?
Well, 2, 3 or none depending on how you look at it. There is trying to convince myself I bought the Lutheran spiel for a few months, my few years of a nearly, but not quite, literalist Paganism, and the rest of my life, which has been some flavor of atheism, agnosticism, rationalism, and maybe a tiny hint of deism once or twice. Add it up however you like!

5. How would you describe your religion now?
Well, I suppose I have covered that, but really, I don't have any, nor do I want one. I think religion and its myths and allegories are terrific tools for thought, meditation, teaching, and connecting. I do not, however, hold any of them as literal. I no more think there is a divine Jesus than I think that the sun is the wheel of Apollo's chariot. They are both really nice stories though!

6. How long have you been practicing that religion?
I think I really, finally, officially came out as an atheist in the last five years or so. But even my Wicca-ish leanings have been largely symbolic/allegorical in character for at least ten, maybe fifteen years, perhaps?

7. Do you pray? If so, how?
No. I meditate, and I sometimes take time to consciously redirect my mental energies, steer myself away from negative thought patterns/habits, and so on. I suppose one could liken that to prayer, via a sort of 'power of positive thinking' analogy. But I don't in any sense think there is anyone/thing out there listening, not do I feel the need to ask favors of an imaginary friend.

8. Do you practice magic? If so, do you distinguish it from prayer?
See above. Some people might call actively focusing their attitudes/thinking a form of magic. I do think that we are tremendously powerful in terms of the realities we bring about by our thoughts, acts, expectations, etc. There is nothing mystical about it, but we are the drivers, we choose the roads. Someone once put is this way: we steer our ships on currents we ourselves create.

9. Do you work with divinatory oracles like Tarot, astrology, the Runes, etc?
I love Tarot, and have a tremendous interest in Kabbalah. Tarot, for me, is like any mythic system; it can, at times, be useful to think of things within a structured language of symbol - but it has no power in and of itself. If there is anything to divination, it lies on our own ability to perceive the patterns we create by our actions, and the see the likelihoods they set into motion. As far as Kabbalah, my interest is much like it is in Tarot, with an added dimension of a rabid interest in medieval religion and mysticism.

10. Describe your personal concept of God/dess/Higher Power/etc.
Me. Every human being is his or her own god, there is no other, there is nothing outside the world to be feared, implored, or served. the highest good to serve is not some external entity, but the worldly good, he well-being of every human, of every sentient being, of all living things.

11. How does your religion/spirituality explain the concept of/presence of evil?
Depends on what you are referring to. Bad shit happens; lightning strikes, diseases mutate based on environmental factors, earthquakes result from tectonic stresses, etc. Nothing evil there. Humans can be altruistic, generous, loving, caring, decent, noble, kind. We can also be selfish, greedy, vain, cruel, and destructive. I don't excuse it, but I understand it as part of the human condition. I, personally, tend to think that religion exacerbates the negative tendencies, at least as much (if not more) as it augments the good ones. It's not the only thing that does so, but it's a biggie in my book. In terms of evil as an abstract concept, it's a descriptor of the antithesis or lack of what we consider good. Dark is simply the state of lacking light, evil is simply one way (and a somewhat poor one) of referring to the absence of good. But neither 'good' nor 'evil' are particularly precise or effective terms.

12. Is music and/or dance important to your path? Why or why not?
Music is tremendously important to me in general, as are many forms of art. Dance less so, but I enjoy it. Much of my favorite types of art and music are religious in nature, even. Part of my 'path? Well, that starts getting into some pretty big assumptions about the meaning of 'path' that I don't really want to spend time on here.

13. What is your concept of the afterlife?
Being remembered by those who survive you, ideally for having made a positive impact on the world, even if only a small portion of it.

14. Do you believe in ghosts, spirits, Faeries, devas, and/or other beings beyond ordinary perception?
I have seen plenty of things I can't explain, I know that. While I don't really believe in an afterlife for example, in some cases, ghosts seem to be the only explanation for some occurrences. I suspect, though, that however such things come about, it's simply a matter of us not being able to understand the mechanics of it yet. After all, at one point, a cell phone, an antibiotic, or the internet would have been utterly inexplicable, and could only have been understood as mystical. That doesn't take one whit of the wonder, majesty or numinousness out of the world, though. If anything, it's far more wondrous to ponder the intricacy of evolution, say, over simply assuming that because I can't quite wrap my head around it, it must have been "bibbity-bobbity-boo."

15. If you have children, are you raising them in your religion/spirituality? Why or why not?
I am raising my kid to think, to love and respect the world around him, to ask questions, to explore, to love to learn, to question claims that seem illogical, and to value facts as facts, and lovely stories as lovely stories.
lunadelcorvo: (Pro-Choice Mom)
([livejournal.com profile] kickthehobbit posted this, and [livejournal.com profile] doctoreon re-posted it, and now it's my turn.)

If you're not pro-choice, and you are vocal and proud about not being pro-choice (including such lines as, "I don't understand how anyone could be pro-choice"), or if you allow discussion to happen in your journal that contains such gems as accusing George Tiller of being a "baby killer" that performed late-term abortions for fun, or allowing awful, awful trolling comments regarding what sluts and whores any woman that would ever have an abortion is?

I AM GOING TO DEFRIEND YOU.

If you want to foster discussion in your journal, fine.

If you are pro-life, and proud of it, but are respectful of those of us that are pro-choice, that's also fine. I won't defriend over either of those.

But if you're going to let people make ignorant-ass comments in your journal about how all abortions are totally wrong and 'oh my God how dare anyone ever get one', and also that George Tiller (who helped people like this and this) was a murderer, not bothering to step in when they start to attack one another or otherwise don't "foster" discussion so much as blindly attack anyone that comments back to them, citing irrelevant court cases in an attempt to prove that late-term abortion happens for reasons other than the mother's life/health being at risk/the fetus having deformities that are incompatible with life . . . that's not OK.

If you're going to let your journal turn into a pro-life circle jerk, then I'm out of here. Because seriously? Don't you fucking even try to play the, "But I am all for women's rights!" card when you're trying to restrict access to abortion.

I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but the only moral abortion is not your abortion. ALL ABORTION IS MORAL.

Brought to you by [livejournal.com profile] kickthehobbit.

lunadelcorvo: (Unclear on the Concept)
The one the Obama administration caved and withdrew following grumblings from the religious right? I sure hope they kept a copy handy, because clearly, the report was far from inaccurate.

Today, a gunman opened fire in a Kansas church, murdering abortion provider George Tiller. This is exactly the sort of incident the report was written to highlight, and hopefully, prevent by raising awareness of the risk of these kinds of attacks, and admitting that this is essentially a form of domestic terrorism. Today's events could not have made it any clearer how badly a reassessment of religiously motivated violence is needed.

I sent an e-mail to Barack Obama, quoted below. I will be sending similar messages to my local congressmen as well. I urge you to do the same.
I am deeply upset by today's fatal TERRORIST attack at Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas. I am especially concerned because this is exactly the kind of domestic religious terrorism addressed by the recent Homeland Security report, as well as the recent hate crimes legislation. Both of which YOUR administration backed down on, a defeat deeply disappointing then, and truly disturbing now. I hope that this tragedy–certainly proof positive of the need to reevaluate the ways in which we define and address religious violence on our own soil–will spur real, definitive, and proactive legislation on the issue of religious violence here at home.

This is a chance for you, Mr. Obama, to really deliver on the promise of change and hope for ALL Americans, those of faith, and those of no faith, those who oppose abortion and those who fight and risk their lives to defend the right to and availability of choice. I hope you take the opportunity, and prove to this American and many like me, who are tired of religious oppression, that we too have a leader in our president. And I speak here of real religious oppression, not that which is ludicrously claimed by the overwhelming Christian majority. Real religious oppression, the kind that makes freedom from faith a dangerous choice, and threatens every woman's right to control her body and her health.

Religious violence cannot be tolerated, no matter the faith or the nationality of the perpetrators. Those who murder out of Christian conviction MUST be handled in precisely the same manner as those who kill in the name of Allah. Religion MUST cease to be an excuse for those in this nation who seek power over others at any cost. Step up, Mr. Obama; please don't sell out my faith in you as my leader.
lunadelcorvo: (Unclear on the Concept)
I know, I'm a little behind the times on this; what can I say? I don't get to the theater much. This one is worth a review nevertheless. Trust me on this one, I'm not going where you think I am, keep reading.

Now, I've seen plenty of scathing criticism of this film, and not just from the religious right, or even the mildly religious. Atheists, anti-religionists, and liberals have lambasted Maher for this one as well. Essentially, the gripes revolve around two points. One is Maher's selection of the craziest of the crazy and the most extreme of the extreme in order to give an extreme picture of religion. The other complaint is that Maher is overly harsh, condescending, disrespectful and flat-out insulting to the people he interviews.

I'd have to say both of these are dead on. There were time in the first hour or so that even I, being a pretty outspoken and vehement anti-religionist, found myself wincing, thinking "Woah! That was harsh!" or "Yikes! Did he just say that?" And admittedly, he does not spend time talking to moderates; his interviewees are decidedly the oddest apples in the bunch. Both of these make Religulous a bit uncomfortable to watch, though incredibly funny.

That's the thing, though. Getting laughs out of the religious loons is easy sport; were the humor the real intent of this piece, I would have to call it a cheap shot, or rather, a long series of cheap shots. Love or hate Maher himself, one must admit that's not his brand of humor. That's how you know the humor isn't the point. It's the tool.

The humor is a tool, like his rudeness is a tool, like his selection of the kookiest of the kooks is a tool, like his leaving in the snippets of him being kicked out of the Vatican, or off the Mormon Temple lawn, is a tool. The purpose to which these tools are turned is nothing less than the dismantling of religion's Get Out of Jail Free card.

Bill Maher is not poking fun at religion to get a laugh. He is not being rude to religion to get a laugh. He's forcing us to see religion for what it is - delusional, irrational. Our habit of toleration and respect for religion is so ingrained, that it takes a lot to be shaken out of it. Even (perhaps especially) for liberals, who have so long chamioned the rights of the other to be who they are, who have fought for equality of the sexes, acceptance of race, non-discrimination; we more than anyone need to be forcibly shaken out of our tendency to be tolerant, our desire to get along.

For all the humor, Maher is deadly serious, and he's not wrong. It's crucial that we do let go of our tolerance for religion; our survival as a species may depend on it. It's not easy letting go of our toys, and leaving the childhood of humanity behind us, with its invisible friends and fairy tales and happy endings. It's not easy telling ourselves, or each other, that no, Santa's not real, and neither is God, there's no happily ever after, and only we can make (or break) a better world. But, like a child allowed to keep his toys and his childhood fantasies becomes a dysfunctional monster, humanity must grow up, or we will become a monstrous race, killing and devouring with a child's heedlessness, blindness and greed. As Maher says, our abilities to pollute, to kill, and to destroy have outstripped our ability to reason and to be rational. Religion is the security blanket, the pacifier, that keeps us from moving on.

That is Maher's mission - to rid us of the security blanket. As long as we treat it with reverence, we will never let it go. Religion is a very real threat. It will remain a threat as long as societies like ours continue to allow religion a pass on behavior and thinking which we would (and do) condemn in other contexts. This is a point I have argued for years, and if *I* was taken aback at Maher's blatant disrespect, clearly, we have along way to go.
lunadelcorvo: (Unclear on the Concept)
There have been several brilliant responses to the hate-mongering of Fred Phelps and his gang already. Notably the Bikers lining up and drowning out all the slogans and jeers from Phelp's crew. Next, I believe first appearing at Matt Shepperd's funeral, were the Angels, with huge white wings to block Phelp and Co. from view of their target, or the media.

But this one is new (to me anyway) and it's brilliant! Presenting: The Phelps-a-thon!
"When the Phelps group comes to Hartford to protest the Connecticut Supreme Court, they will actually be raising money for LGBT equality.

Driving Equality is hosting a Phelps-A-Thon to counter Fred Phelps’ hateful message. For every minute the “God Hates Fags” clan is protesting, we will be collecting donations for Love Makes a Family, a local organization working for marriage and LGBT equality in Connecticut.

The Phelps clan will be protesting at the Connecticut Supreme Court from 1:15 PM to 2:00 PM on April 28th. You can pledge any amount you chose, whether it be $0.25, $0.50, $1, or even $2 for every minute they protest. You can even pledge a flat rate for the entire time the group will be demonstrating.

The point of this Phelps-A-Thon is two fold. First, we are using Phelps’ own hateful message to raise funds for a good cause, one that will help counter the lies that are being spread about LGBT people. Second, After the event, we will send Phelps a thank you card, telling him how much money he raised for LGBT equality. This will certainly upset the group and it is possible that they will stop protesting in order to stop our fundraising."
Quoted from http://www.phelps-a-thon.com

Please consider going and pledging for the upcoming protest. (Next up is Hartford, CN.)

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] ynfytyn for pointing this out. I'm just helping spread the word.
lunadelcorvo: (Teach the Controversy)


Having a) just finished a course on the formation of Eastern and Western Christianity and b) just been sharing geek squee with [livejournal.com profile] sentimental13 over Coptics minutia, (to say nothing of end of semester insanity) this just strikes me as unbearable funny! *wipes tears*

You may return to your regularly scheduled programming.... *snorfle*
lunadelcorvo: (Stupidity brain hurts)
Just got into a discussion over on [livejournal.com profile] challenging_god, which soon went well beyond the original question and into silliness. Why? Because it soon became apparent that the other person (who was only to happy to pour on the condescension) simply didn't have a clue what she was talking about. I don't mean fine points of doctrine, or history or anything like that. This is the kind of 'didn't have a clue' where you discover after a few exchanges that the other person is simply operating on deeply and critically flawed premises.

And she didn't even seem to be arguing the religious side of things. Or rather than the usual fundie dogma, she had some odd ideas of religion, which she kept trying to interject into a discussion of a specific question, and then wondering why I said she kept changing definitions. But in this case it was the idea of logical inconsistency.

She could not wrap her head around the notion of logical inconsistency. Her idea of 'omnipotent' means insisting that an omnipotent being could, for example, make a square circle, or make 2 + 2 = 5. Hello? No, sorry - logical inconsistency! Come on, Aquinas put this to bed in the 12th century, folks! I remember my Aquinas professor getting SO frustrated with someone in that class who tried the same thing. He finally kicked him out for the day, telling him he was insulting not only him (the professor) but Aquinas and God himself by insisting on such a ludicrous position.

At least that fellow was trying to argue out of pure, dogged faith. This idiot was trying to say that since God created physics, he could flout its conventions. For one thing, since when does math depend upon physics? I couldn't get her to grasp that numbers are not physical things, that there are constructs, abstracts. Any way I presented it she kept insisting that logical consistency is some human construction, as though if there hadn't been humans, there would be no numbers. Well, not by the names we use, but there would be multiples of things, and then there would be numbers. And then 2 of a thing and 2 more of a thing STILL can't be 5 of a thing. And no being, no matter how powerful, could make a square circle.

This sort of thing always stops me in my tracks. OK, I'm an education junkie, I admit it. But it always amazes me how many people just don't have a grasp on basic logical principles. 'A' and 'not-A' are mutually exclusive. Basic, right? Well, not out there in the world, apparently. How is it that otherwise smart, capable people can miss this stuff? I mean, she wasn't dumb, just tragically ignorant of certain key concepts. I say tragically because her ignorance extended to her smug and unwavering certainty that there is nothing else out there that she might not get.

If rampant ignorance is growing (and it seems to be!) where did this stubborn pride in ignorance come from? Where did people who don't know how logic (or math, or whatever it may be) works get this idea that somehow they are superior in their understanding, despite essentially having none? Is this part of the cult of mediocrity, that thinks 'elite' is a pejorative, and ignorance is noble? Is it just the result of a deeply deficient education system? Are people just too damned busy getting business degrees to bother learning anything about how to, I don't know, think?

What will this mean over time? Will we, as a species, lose all that we gained in terms of thought and reason? OK, over dramatic, perhaps, but still. What happens when we have our machines to think for us, and we don't have to learn to use logic. (I wonder the same thing when I see kids told to use calculators instead of having to learn how to do basic math.) What if our machines fail? What if we can't remember how to think for ourselves? What if our leaders cannot think? (We saw how well that worked for 8 years!)

The discussion I had today is not a surprise (sadly). It is sort of depressing, though, to be reminded how ignorant people can be, and how stubbornly they can defend that ignorance.
lunadelcorvo: (Stupidity brain hurts)
Saw this gem courtesy of the Planned Parenthood newsletter, but the article is from Feministing.

The Ex-Masturbator Campaign: Shaming idle hands since 2009

(quoted from the article) "You know...sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. (Not to mention an infinite number of jokes.)

Apparently the Passion for Christ Movement has a bunch of these "ex" shirts, and this is just the latest."

The author of the article quotes from another article on the campaign associated with the shirts, noting that the "shame" which these idiots associate with masturbation comes from just these sorts of tactics, like those in this article referring to "an illegal orgasm," apparently a common term among Passion for Christ members. He quotes that article:

Two things I've come to know about masturbation is this:

1. It brings shame, and...
2. It is addictive

Most people who have engaged in masturbation know that the culmination of this sexual act ends in shame. I don't have to share with you the thousands of emails of the admittance of this shame because you know all too well since you have experienced it yourself. Curled up in a fetal position, crying, because your bed is even more empty and you're lonelier than you did before you violated yourself.

What I find particularly tragic about this is that, let's face it, no one is *really* going to stop fiddling below the belt for life. (Heaven help us if they do, because they're all gonna go postal one day!) What they ARE going to do is take on, willingly, cheerfully, a boatload of guilt, shame, and psychological ass-f*cking over utterly harmless, purely natural and healthy behavior. This is psychological repression on a deeply inherent level, and it is toxic, and fer fucks sake, shouldn't we know better by now?

Once again, I am forced to ask if some of these people have noticed that it isn't 1600 anymore?
lunadelcorvo: (Medieval Facepalm)
Surprise - I didn't like it at all.

First of all, having only seen the film, and not read the book, my comments may not relate directly to what the original work represents. From what I do know of the book, though, it goes into far more exhaustive detail, and builds a far more elaborate case for a continuity of anti-Semitism from Constantine to the present day. That broad arc is not quite as visible in the film, which might, ironically, be a saving grace, albeit a minor one, of the film over the book.

A broad connective arc is definitely implied, though. It's hard at times to sketch a clear historical arc from the film version, because it jumped back and forth from biography (with a heavy doses of quasi-confessional angst, or so it appeared to me) to history. Again, I don't know if that was the case in the book as well; if so I question the value of its organizational structure! But the events that do appear are related by implication if only by virtue of the fact that they appear in a sequence, each one punctuated by Carroll's ongoing "revelations along his journey." (I use the phrase for lack of a better one; I don't really connect to him on this level, any more than I do to the documentary AS a documentary, but maybe I'm just unsympathetic, cold and critical...ha!)

I don't have TOO much difficulty with his treatment of contemporary issues, although he focuses almost entirely on contemporary anti-Semitism in conservative and evangelical Christianity, which I think rather misses the salient point. Granted, it is there - the public statement by the head of the Southern Baptist Seminary (yes, the one located in our fair city) that "God doesn't listen to the prayers of Jews" is ample proof of this. However, if we are going to worry ourselves over the threats inherent in the rise of contemporary ultra-conservative Christianity, we have much broader concerns to address, thank you very much. Let's start with theocracy and the Constitution, for example, and go from there.

For example, Carroll starts by discussing the problem of proselytizing in the military - this is a serious issue, with broad ranging implications reaching well beyond the Jewish population, and I was (at first) happy to see some light shed on it. However, he quickly focused only on the pressure on Jews, which, from everything else I have read about this (and similar issues) is one of the smaller aspects of it; this same aggressive proselytization exists across the armed forces, and anyone not in accord with evangelicalism is pressured equally. To discuss it as though it is exclusively a Jewish/Christian issue both misrepresents it, and shifts focus from the true problems.

He begins his history with Constantine, and says not too much interesting, except to note that the cross was not really used much as a Christian symbol until Constantine himself made it one. I have always thought that this rather makes the account of his victory and conversion a bit less remarkable, not to mention rather suspect (as though it wasn't already).

When I first started railing at the screen, however (Yes, I am someone who yells at the TV; now you know), was his first foray into the 'tragic history.' (Strongly evocative to me at least of what Baron termed "the lachrymose" view of Jewish history.) That begins with the Crusades in the Rhineland, of course. I don't know how the events are portrayed in the book, but in the film - well, to say the presentation is 'heavily shaded' towards his message is perhaps too polite. He doesn't say outright that the church supported the massacres, but he certainly does nothing to note that they didn't, either. (And based on his treatment of other events, it is clearly implied.) He says that the Bishop of Mainz refused entrance to his palace to any Jews except those who would convert. I have not read every account, to be sure, but that's not how I recall reading it. Nor does he ever mention any attempt on the part of the Bishop to stop the Crusaders, something I definitely recall reading in several sources, even in the Jewish accounts.

He never gives numbers, but his telling of how "the entire Jewish population of the Rhineland was wiped out" certainly suggests number far greater than I recall reading about as well. Nor do I recall any suggestion that the entire region found itself suddenly utterly devoid of a single Jew... He visits a Jewish cemetery, also in Mainz, and first shows a stone telling the story of a young woman converted by force. He doesn't mention a date, but it is implied it's from the same time. He then shows an elderly Jewish man, a guide to the cemetery, weeping over a gravestone that is obviously MUCH more recent, (looked to be maybe 18th C, but what do I know about gravestones in the Rhineland?) but again, the implication is that this is a victim of the Crusaders. Indeed, the suggestion is that the entire cemetery is filled with such victims.

He does the same sort of thing on his brief mention of Spain and the Inquisition - tosses out a few broad statements about expulsion, torture and extermination, voiced over what appeared to be 18th-century woodcuts of diabolical torture, and moves on, leaving the viewer to draw only the worst conclusions. It's that kind of misleading, slanted, and to me, entirely gratuitous misrepresentations that riddled the film, and drove me nuts. I don't know that he intentionally misrepresents, or how much of it is editing, and how much of it is him just not checking his sources. (For example, his source for the information on the events in Mainz is, if I recall correctly, a local abbot.) Then again, it's difficult to imagine this not being intentional, as he never seems to err against his argument; convenient that.

It irritated me enough that when he got to talking about things I don't know much about personally, I didn't trust a word he said. He implied, for example, that the confinement of the Jews to the Ghettos in Rome was at the explicit order of the Pope. I don't know anything at all about Rome in the 1500s, but I doubt the accuracy of this (or at least, strongly suspect that, even if this is true in one sense, there is vastly more to the events) simply because I saw how the events of 1096 were portrayed. And so on.

In dealing with the Nazi phenomenon, again, he doesn't say outright that the Church was involved, or that the ideology was Christian, but he might as well have. He never discusses the difference between religiously and racially motivated persecutions, (a crucial difference!) again, save by implication. However, the implication is very much that the support of the Vatican for the Third Reich is religiously motivated. i.e. The Vatican knew just what Hitler was about, and was only too happy to sit back and let him do the dirty work. He even discusses at great length the warning sent to the Pope by Edith Stein about what Hitler was up to, and how she never received an answer, but herself perished in Buchenwald. OK, that is true, but it's the WAY it's presented that makes it so pregnant with accusation.

It's never said explicitly, but it is clearly there. (It's infuriating really, to watch!) He gives a brief nod to the influence of "neo-pagan" ideology to the formation of the Nazi programs as a way to share or shift blame from Christianity (also inaccurate as far as I know; my impression has been that Hitler's quasi-mythical inspiration had more to do with Wagner and the 19th-century romantics & occultists than anything genuinely 'pagan,' much less 'neo-pagan.'). But he never explains what he means, leaving the viewer to either cast blame on contemporary Wicca/neo-pagan groups, or to simply dismiss it, and remain focused on Christianity/Catholicism, neither of which do a thing to further any understanding of the issue at hand.

Nothing is ever mentioned about the other myriad elements which formed the foundation for the Nazi phenomenon: social Darwinism, Malthus, the early forms of Aryan thought, Müller, no mention of the impacts of technology, or the social and political history of Germany prior to the rise of the Nazi party, or the rise of totalitarian regimes in other places in the 30s; not a bit of it. No context here, folks, it's a context-free zone.

Naturally, I do think that there is plenty to be discussed on many fronts here. In no sense am I trying to soften the harsh realities of anti-Semitism, or pogroms against Jews, whether in antiquity, the middle ages, the early 20th century, or now. Nor am I issuing blanket pardon for those individuals and groups that have used religion as the excuse for this or any form of persecution. But to my mind, there is plenty to talk about without distorting meaning and misrepresenting events. So too, is there plenty to discuss in terms of the Vatican and its willingness to meet Hitler as a political ally, and its reticence to speak out against the Reich. (Then again, the same could be said, perhaps even more vehemently, about many other governments and other entities, not the least of which being major American companies; something else Carroll utterly fails to mention. And why would he? It might detract from his message.)

But if we are to have this conversation, let's have it correctly, with responsible scholarship and unbiased history. To do otherwise is to construct our own Guantanamo - if we are to hold history, or the church to trial, let it be a fair trial. However, the sort of blame Carroll sketches seems to be, like so much else, too deeply shaded to read as balanced or credible. This sort of editing and shading is, I know, bread and butter for 'message-driven' film as a genre. But in this case, I think it really detracts from those points he may have that may be valid, or at least, worth discussion. It takes what could have been a documentary with real value, and real impact, and puts it on par with something like Zeitgeist, or one of the 9-11 conspiracy films.

(This review is adapted slightly from a discussion of the film/book that I had with a professor)
lunadelcorvo: (Default)
The fucker did it. He passed the legislation 'protecting' health care workers from OH NOES! having to do their frikkin' jobs, and prescribe or dispense not only abortion services, but IUDs, hormone based contraceptives, and emergency contraception as well. This is couched as a freedom of speech measure for the religious, supposedly forced into providing services they "find repugnant." What it is however, is a way to get legislation on the books which classifies any birth control which prevents implantation of a fertilized ovum (like the pill, Norplant, IUDs, etc.) as "abortion."

Like so many pieces of seemingly innocent (not that this is innocent - if you are going to be an OB/GYN and not prescribe birth control you have no damn business with a license) legislation snuck under the radar, the sole purpose of this is a wedge. A little inroad, hidden in the piles of verbiage, that has the potential to be picked up later, and assembled into a weapon. It's the little bit of plastic hidden in the soap sent to the prisoner; almost undetectable, but when later gathered and ordered, can be deadly. Goddammit!

Read the whole story HERE and more about the bill here and here.

Start writing letters to Obama now, and let's hope this crap gets overturned immediately with the new administration.

Also, see this post for more on my thoughts on this...
lunadelcorvo: (Mamabear)
I must say, in a way I have an additional reason to be happy when this thesis is done and over. Some of the crap I have been reading is really starting to get to me. The material I have been researching is distrubing, infuriating, and deeply scary. From Promise Keepers and other groups promoting "godly familes and marriages" to the insidious mix of 'cure and condemn' anti-gay rhetoric - its just sickening.

One of the things that has been especially disturbing is finding out just how horrendous the "abstinence-only" sex-ed programs really are. When I think of the numbers of young people fed this crap, and the damage it can and will do...

These 'abstinence-only' programs incorporate utter nonsense and blatant lies; things like misrepresenting the failure rates of birth control and condoms as protections against HIV/STDs, suggesting that birth control measures (or abortions) cause cancer, miscarriage, infertility, and so on. They also promote sexist stereotypes, by suggesting that since boys 'only want sex' and 'can't control themselves,' it is up to the girl (since girls don't like sex) to ensure that a couple does not have sex. (With the obvious implication that it's her fault if they do - hello, Eve!)

This is a report issued by the US government on such programs. Some specifics cited in the report are:
• A 43-day-old fetus is a "thinking person."
• HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can be spread via sweat and tears.
• No evidence demonstrates condoms’ effectiveness against HPV transmission.
• Condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission as often as 31 percent of the time in heterosexual intercourse.
• Touching another person’s genitals can result in pregnancy.
• Remaining a virgin all but eliminates the possibility of becoming pregnant. (Emphasis mine-WTF?)
• Five to ten percent of women will never again [be able to] be pregnant after having a legal abortion.
• A woman needs to feel a man’s devotion to her, and a man has a primary need to feel a woman’s admiration.
• A Bride price is actually an honor to the bride; it says she is valuable to the groom.
• Abstention from sexual activity eliminates depression, poverty, loneliness, substance abuse, and suicide.


I don't care what your religious beliefs are, or how you see sex in your personal morality. Lying to children and teens in the guise of education is WRONG. It's as wrong as giving them lies about how to cross the street safely, or how to get out of the house in case of a fire, or anything else that involves their personal safety. As a parent, I can't describe the depth of anger I feel when I see that this crap is being taught to young people in schools, with all the borrowed legitimacy that implies. Worse, it is federally funded, meaning my taxes and yours have paid people to write this garbage, and paid people to indoctrinate young people with it. I have no words for the wrongness of this.
lunadelcorvo: (Wall of Separation)
(Quotes taken from All Things Considered, Sep 24, NPR)

In a piece on NPR about the Pulpit Initiative, the movement by pastors and preachers to defy the laws prohibiting the endorsement of political candidates from the pulpit, Pastor Gus Booth said: "Bottom line is, I'm a spiritual leader in this community, and spiritual leaders need to make decisions. We need to lead spiritually, and we need to be able to speak about the moral issues of the day. And right now, the moral issues of today are also the political issues of today."

However, a few minutes later, Alliance Defense Fund (a conservative Christian group masquerading as a protector of freedom of speech) Attorney Erik Stanley said "What's been happening is that the government has been able to go into the pulpits of America, look over the pastor's shoulder, and parse the content of their sermon. And that's unconstitutional" Stanley said. "No government official should entangle itself with religion in that way."

So let me get this straight: Religion has the right to entangle itself in government as much as it pleases, working actively to influence electoral outcomes, but government should not entangle itself in religion? Is anyone else seeing the irony here?

(x-posted)
lunadelcorvo: (Preschool toys)
by Daniel Dennett (borrowed from a post on seclrphilosophy.)

A few months ago, I was invited by The Guardian to debate Lord Robert Winston in London on the question:

Is religion the greatest threat to rationality and scientific progress?

The debate was supposed to be videotaped for later webcast, but their technical folks let them down, and even the audio recording was, I am told, botched, so the actual debate will have to live as best it can in the memories of the two or three hundred people in attendance. Not a particularly insightful occasion in any case, but my opening salvo made a few points that I think deserve a wider audience:

If religion isn't the greatest threat to rationality and scientific progress, what is? Perhaps alcohol, or television, or addictive video games. But although each of these scourges - mixed blessings, in fact - has the power to overwhelm our best judgment and cloud our critical faculties, religion has a feature of that none of them can boast: it doesn't just disable, it honours the disability. People are revered for their capacity to live in a dream world, to shield their minds from factual knowledge and make the major decisions of their lives by consulting voices in their heads that they call forth by rituals designed to intoxicate them.

It used to be the case that we tended to excuse drunk drivers when they crashed because they weren't entirely in control of their faculties at the time, but now we have wisely inverted that judgment, holding drunk drivers doubly culpable for putting themselves in that irresponsible position in the first place. It is high time we inverted the public attitude about religion as well, finding all socially destructive acts of religious passion shameful, not honourable, and holding those who abet them - the preachers and other apologists for religious zeal - as culpable as the bartenders and negligent hosts who usher dangerous drivers on to the highways. Our motto should be: Friends don't let friends steer their lives by religion.

Right now, Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh, a young student, resides on death row in Afghanistan, sentenced to execution for committing blasphemy. Imagine! We're living in the 21st century, and in "liberated" Afghanistan (not Taliban Afghanistan) blasphemy is still a capital crime. Most of the rest of the world is tongue-tied, unwilling to tell those bent on carrying out this barbaric sentence that they are simply wrong, and should not thus humiliate themselves and their traditions. Where are the peaceful demonstrations of protest? Are people unwilling to hurt the feelings of Muslims? We are quick to condemn other outrages, but religious passion, genuine or feigned, shields people from the moral judgments of their fellow human beings, judgments to which we should all alike be subject.

There is an unbalance in the framing of this resolution, and Robert Winston has the worst of it. He must try to allay a host of concerns, an unending task, while - as everyone knows all too well - in a single cataclysmic day my side could be proven by one fanatical act, not that anyone would be left to cheer my victory. Not just rationality and scientific progress, but just about everything else we hold dear could be laid waste by a single massively deluded "sacramental" act. True, you don't have to be religious to be crazy, but it helps. Indeed, if you are religious, you don't have to be crazy in the medically certifiable sense in order to do massively crazy things. And - this is the worst of it - religious faith can give people a sort of hyperbolic confidence, an utter unconcern about whether they might be making a mistake, that enables acts of inhumanity that would otherwise be unthinkable.

This imperviousness to reason is, I think, the property that we should most fear in religion. Other institutions or traditions may encourage a certain amount of irrationality - think of the wild abandon that is often appreciated in sports or art - but only religion demands it as a sacred duty. This might not matter if the activities that composed religion were somewhat insulated from the rest of the world the way they are in sports and art. Then we could treat religious allegiances the way we treat differences in taste: if you have a taste for kick boxing or heavy metal bands, that's your business. Knock yourself out, as we say, it's only a game. Not so with religion. Its arena includes not just the participants but all of life on the planet. Given that, it's troubling to note how avidly some people engage in deliberate make-believe in order to execute the prescribed duties.

The better is enemy of the best: religion may make many people better, but it is preventing them from being as good as they could be. If only we could transfer all that respect, loyalty and intense devotion from an imaginary being - God - to something real: the wonderful world of goodness we and our ancestors have made, and of which we are now the stewards.

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Things I need to remember:
• Asking for help is not, as it turns out, fatal.
• Laughing is easier than pulling your hair out, and doesn't have the unfortunate side effect of making you look like a plague victim.
• Even the biggest tasks can be defeated if taken a bit at a time.
• I can write a paper the night before it's due, but the results are not all they could be.
• Be thorough, but focused.
• Trust yourself.
• Honesty, always.

Historians are the Cassandras of the Humanities

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