Monday, May 21, 2012
The YouTube version of this has been cut to remove the damning evidence of Christian hatred, illegal political influence and the most fetid and revolting inhuman bigotry. Obviously, someone from their ranks wanted to erase the evidence which shows the depth of their bigotry. Luckily, Left Hemispheres posted this uncut version.
This pastor openly tells his congregation of his awesome "solution" to the "problem" of homosexuality - herd lesbians into an enclosure surrounded by an electric fence, and herd the "queers" into another fenced enclosure. And "in a few years, they'll die.'
"I figured a way out — a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers. But I couldn’t get it passed through Congress. Build a great big large fence, 150 or 100 miles long. Put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals. Have that fence electrified so they can’t get out. Feed ‘em, and– And you know what? In a few years they’ll die out. You know why? They can’t reproduce." Pastor Charles Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, NC.
Voices shout "Amen!"
He polishes off his remarks by asking his audience to imagine a same-sex kiss - which "about makes him puke" don't you know. The poor guy! Don't make him imagine it! The horror!
There is so much real horror in this video, I hardly know where to start. Is it the homophobia? The hatred of gays and lesbians - even to sharing a plan for their extermination? Is it the blatant violation of church and state as he tells the congregation how to vote? It's a toss up right now what is the worst part in the video. But what is truly the worst part about this window into the bloodthirsty wishes of people like this is the reality that this is not a minority view in the Christian church in the USA right now. This is happening right now all over the country. If these people manage to gain any more power, they really will use it to harm other people - starting with gays and lesbians and anyone else who does not conform to the narrow gender roles that are acceptable to Christians.
Please watch and please SHARE!
And oh yeah: TAX CHURCHES!!!
Sunday, May 20, 2012
It's the weekend, People, and I have a yard to whip into shape!
Nevertheless, I am nothing if not a font of inspirational material for my readers. Take a five minute break from your Sunday leisure - or if you are a productive person like Yours Truly, from your Sunday achievements - and listen to Neil DeGrasse Tyson's rousing words in defense of NASA research.
Let's reach for the stars!
Saturday, May 19, 2012
3 minutes of musical inspiration for a beautiful Saturday morning. We are stardust, in the highest exalted way. Stand in the middle and enjoy everything both ways; the tininess of us; the enormity of the universe.
[Neil deGrasse Tyson]
We are part of this universe
We are in this universe
The universe is in us
Yes, the universe is in us
Every atom in your body
Came from a star that exploded
You are all star dust
From a star that exploded
Look up at the night sky
We are part of that
The universe itself
Exists within us
We are star dust
In the highest exalted way
Called by the universe
Reaching out to the universe
We are star dust
In the highest exalted way
Reaching out to the universe
With these methods and tools of science
Stand in the middle and enjoy everything both ways
The tininess of us;
The enormity of the universe
The atoms that make up the human body
Are traceable to the crucibles
That cooked light elements
Into heavy elements
These stars went unstable in their later years
And then exploded
Scattering their enriched guts
Across the galaxy
We are part of this universe
We are in this universe
The universe is in us
Yes, the universe is in us
Friday, May 18, 2012
Good Morning, Humans.
It is a sunny, warm May FreyaDay, and I am sitting under the table.
My perch on the window is not restful. There is too much going on in the streets of city below.
Chicago is full of noisy Humans right now. I am sitting under the table until they all go home.
It is a warm, May FreyaDay, but I am sitting under the table.
Thank gods it's FreyaDay!
|That's right, Democrats, this could happen to you.|
|Fear-mongering and racial|
dog-whistling are the stock
in trade of Super PACs.
The Republican base that has been nurtured so assiduously for the past two decades through religion and fear-mongering will not stay home and sit out the election, no matter how disappointed they may be in their nominee. Because no matter how little they love Mitt Romney and how miserably uninspiring they find him, their hatred for President Obama provides inspiration that is greater, fiercer and more enduring. It will be the desire to throw President Obama out of the White House which will mobilize the Republican base this year; distaste for Mitt Romney notwithstanding. Mitt at least is white, male, and willing to pander to the religious and the rich.
|Billionaires flock to Republican operatives' Super PACs.|
"Newsflash: Nothing is in the bag. Nothing can be taken for granted. Everybody from the precinct door-knocker, to the Chicago high command, to the White House, to the halls of Congress, to the Senate and House committees, to congressional leadership, here is a simple message: If we don't get on the offense, reconnect with the American people, talk about how the middle class is in a struggle for its very existence, hold the Republicans accountable and fight like the dickens, we are going to lose." James Carville.
|Vote Romney for a new gilded age!|
Writers and speakers and ordinary citizens who care about the future had better be paying attention. We must keep these issues in front of people. We must keep the electorate engaged and aware that this election matters. This is the year to knock on doors, make phone calls, write and speak out for the future of the American dream. People who care about the 99% had better fasten their seatbelts - we are in for the fight of our lives.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
The language is not accidental. The wealthy have been lionized as "job creators" quite deliberately by their political arm, the Republican Party. It is a lie. This video explains why it is a lie.
An excellent TED talk, by Nick Hanauer. Please - watch (it is a brief 6 minutes) and share.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
It's that time again! Wednesday night Barmy Bible Study! Due to a rare organizational lapse, tonight's story is out of sequence with the two earlier Bible Study classes (Noah and Abraham), but these things happen so I don't want to hear any grousing about it.
Our text for tonight is from Genesis (NIV): the story of Cain and Abel:
(Note: Atheists and other haters of GOD'S HOLY WORD scroll down past the blue text)
Cain and Abel (Genesis 4: 1-2.6)
1 Adam[a] made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain.[b] She said, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth[c] a man.” 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”[d] While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
10 The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”
13 Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
15 But the LORD said to him, “Not so[e]; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. 16 So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod,[f] east of Eden.
17 Cain made love to his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch. 18 To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad was the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael was the father of Methushael, and Methushael was the father of Lamech.
19 Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah. 20 Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes. 22 Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of[c] bronze and iron. Tubal-Cain’s sister was Naamah.
|Cain goes to the land of Nod - gains|
a wife and child and builds a city
and-- wait, where the hell did all
these people come from?
“Adah and Zillah, listen to me;
wives of Lamech, hear my words.
I have killed a man for wounding me,
a young man for injuring me.
24 If Cain is avenged seven times,
then Lamech seventy-seven times.”
25 Adam made love to his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth,[d] saying, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.” 26 Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh.
At that time people began to call on[e] the name of the LORD.
This wonderful story of God's amazing fatherly wisdom is always a crowd-pleaser among the Sunday School set. Little sisters and brothers listen raptly to the story of the Heavenly Father who inexplicably favored one earthly son over another and the resulting jealous rage in which the spurned son murdered his hapless brother.
1. How did Cain and Abel demonstrate their devotion to God?
2. How did God react to their efforts? How does Cain respond to God's reaction?
3. What happens to Cain and what does the Bible teach us with this story?
Cain and Abel were the very first natural born children on earth. They were the children of the very first people on earth, Adam and Eve, whom Yahweh had created out of dirt (well, Adam was created out of dirt; Eve was just cloned from Adam's rib). Perhaps God was planning to create children for Adam and Eve out of dirt, too, but after Adam and Eve were thrown out of Eden for being tricked into disobedience, they had sex and started a family the icky human way. First Cain was born and later, Abel. They were the first four people on earth.
When Cain and Abel grew up, they learned about God - including how fond He was of being worshipped with shows of devotion and obedience - especially obedience. Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd, so naturally the two boys brought offerings to Yahweh from their own labours. Cain offered some of his crops while Abel offered a fat lamb from his flock.
|Oh Cain, you're so lame!|
Everyone knows that God loved the smell of blood and burning flesh. Unless worshippers were prepared to extinguish a life and offer the bloody corpse up for for the deity's pleasure, they just were not doing it right. It is clear to any good Christian that Cain failed abysmally in showing proper devotion to his All-loving Father. Cain brought only the paltry products of months of his own hard physical labour - a few measly fruits and vegetables or maybe a bushel of wheat or something - while Abel presented Yahweh with the bloody carcass of a lamb, which he no doubt proceeded to burn as a sacrifice, so that the deity could breathe in the sweet smell of the burning flesh of a recently living creature. Nothing says love like blood! Later in the Bible, we learn that the smell of burning flesh is the thing that pleased Yahweh the most so, although Cain had no way of knowing this, he should have had the dumb luck to just naturally be inclined to slaughter and burn a living thing like Abel did. It is really no wonder that Yahweh was displeased with Cain.
|Cain and his wife and child and a few|
other people wan-- wait, where did
all those other people come from?
Yahweh merely chastised Cain and banished him from Eden. Interestingly, the Bible does not explain how Cain could be banished from Eden when, according to earlier verses in Genesis, he could never have been in Eden in the first place because God had banished his parents from there before Cain was even born. But never mind all that - who are we to question the mysterious ways of the Almighty? - Cain was banished. Not smited. In fact, God marked Cain with the mark of Cain to protect him from murder as he served out his sentence which was (at first) to be doomed to wander the earth. It quickly (the very next verse!) became apparent that God actually had big plans for Cain. Maybe it was Cain's boldness and daring that appealed to the deity. Certainly, Cain displayed a level of sociopathic self-interest that must have impressed Yahweh! By destroying his only rival for favor with God, Cain anticipated later Biblical figures who enjoyed God's full favor and indeed who obeyed God's orders to commit murder, rape and pillaging to win or keep His favor. Best of all, Cain had corrected his error of failing to slaughter a living thing for Yahweh, and how!
|Wait - what?|
So, Cain was condemned to wander the earth, a lonely wretched outcast. But, hang on there! In the very next verse of Genesis, the Bible tells us that Cain went to a place east of Eden called Nod, where - astonishingly - he suddenly had a wife, who then produced a child, Enoch. Cain never wandered, but built a city (!) instead which he named after his son. Who knows where these other people came from, since the Bible clearly tells us that Adam and Eve and their two sons were the first and only people on earth from whom all humankind descended. Perhaps the other people outside Eden were created by a rival god - several other gods are mentioned in the Old Testament, after all - but no, the Bible says that there is only one god (except when it mentions the other gods) and He is the Creator god.
Anyway, what does it matter? The Bible does not need to make sense. We must read it with faith because it is a work of revelation. God works in mysterious ways and the Bible never lies or contradicts itself. Now, let's move on.
|They may have been centenarians, but |
Adam and Eve managed to produce Seth
and many more sons and daughters!
We can take away so many wonderful lessons from this story. We learned that a mere man can never know the mind of God and that even when someone earnestly tries to honor the deity with the fruits of his labour, the deity may capriciously reject it in favor of the randomly chosen offerings of another person. We learned that we can never understand the mysteries of God's behavior. Except when we do - absolutely! - understand what God hates and what He forbids when other people do it.
Stop messing with scripture!
Some people say that Cain was a red-headed spawn of Satan, but we know the Bible says no such thing. We don't know what color Cain's hair really was. People need to stop making things up that the Bible clearly never said. The Bible is God's perfect, inerrant Holy WORD. Nothing is omitted, nothing can ever be changed, nothing can be added.
Some people also say that Cain had a bad attitude and that he offered God inferior crops from his field. Although the Bible says nothing of the sort, we can
|And don't come out until you're right with God, sinner!|
* With "divine-favor" like this, who needs "divine-disfavor"?
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
A Facebook friend recently posted a link to an interesting story about the possibility of a future world where responsibility for - and control over - reproduction could eventually be more evenly shared by men and women. In the blog The Last Word on Nothing, Sally Adee discussed pregnancy, abortion, women's and men's rights in light of ongoing research into the development of external womb technology. Whether it is futuristic fantasy or a real possibility, the topic of ectogenesis shines a spotlight on one of the thorniest issues related to heterosexual human sexuality: unplanned pregnancy.
|Coming soon: a brave new world?|
None of the above is a big problem for two people who have freely chosen to take on these risks; who have planned for and consented to a pregnancy and who happily plan to be jointly responsible should the pregnancy result in the live birth of a child. The above risks and responsibilities become a serious problem, though, when the two people have not planned for and consented to pregnancy. The physical, psychological and financial risks to a mother and the psychological and financial risks to a father of an unexpected pregnancy are far too high for the possibility to be dismissed lightly. Consent to sex does not mean consent to pregnancy. Pregnancy is easily prevented by mutually respectful sexual partners and it is easily aborted in the earliest stages in the unlikely event that responsible contraceptive efforts fail. Childbirth should never be accidental, forced or unplanned.
|No sex, no problems!|
That should work!
Reading the comments under the article on external wombs, I was not surprised to find the often-cited argument from a male reader that it is unfair that a man may be legally required to support children that he may not have wanted. This speaks to the point above: that the role of men in an unplanned pregnancy is very much downplayed in society, leaving many men surprised and angry when they discover that they may be held legally responsible for support, even if they did not consent to fatherhood.
|Sure, give your heart, |
but don't lose your mind!
I think the foundational understanding should be this: healthy, sexually mature human beings should be able to enjoy worry-free consensual sex. It is one of the joys of being human. In healthy heterosexual relationships, all participants take responsibility for protecting themselves and their partners from unplanned pregnancy. Unless both partners have willingly agreed to try to become parents and both have explicitly consented to actively pursuing parenthood every time they have sex, then both partners must assume that there is no consent to pregnancy, though consent to sex may still be enthusiastic. For every single sexual encounter except those explicitly meant to result in conception, all participants should use some form of contraception.
|Indispensable equipment |
for fun, sexy times!
Look, if you are a man who is unprepared to become a father, or if your partner has not explicitly consented to try to become a parent with you right now, then do not engage in sex without using some form of male-controlled birth control. Men who, like the commenter on the ectogenesis thread, whine immaturely that "she said that pregnancy is unlikely! (she lied!)", or who complain that they think wearing a condom reduces their pleasure (so they won't wear them, dammit!) are men who are too immature for sexual activity. It is every human being's responsibility to prevent unplanned parenthood. There is a wide array of products out there designed to enhance your sexual experience safely and at least one of them will work out just fine for you. Sex feels great with or without a condom, but subjecting your partner (and yourself) to the risk of an unplanned pregnancy because you want an already awesome experience to be even better (for you) is a lousy way to show respect and caring to a partner.
for fun, sexy times!
We have sexual relationships with other people: our actions affect our partners, and we must have the maturity to treat them with the same consideration that we hope for ourselves. Control over your own fertility should never willingly be ceded to another person, not only because unwilling or unplanned parenthood can and often does result, but also because every child deserves to be conceived knowingly and deliberately by two people who have made a conscious choice to be parents.
Religious conservatives get it so wrong when they declare that extra-marital, non-procreative sex is immoral. Consensual sex is moral, natural and good. But, consensual sex does not mean consent to pregnancy. Whenever you engage in sex without using personal birth control, you are unfairly denying your partner the right to consent to or not to consent to a possible pregnancy. And do you know what? That would be immoral.
|Ah, the joy of consensual sex!|
Science is the best tool ever devised
For understanding how the world works
Science is a very human form of knowledge
We are always at the brink of the known
Science is a collaborative enterprise
Spanning the generations
We remember those who prepared the way
Seeing for them also
[Neil deGrasse Tyson]
If you're scientifically literate,
The world looks very different to you
And that understanding empowers you
There's real poetry in the real world
Science is the poetry of reality
We can do science
And with it, we can improve our lives
The story of humans is the story of ideas
That shine light into dark corners
Scientists love mysteries
They love not knowing
I don't feel frightened by not knowing things
I think it's much more interesting
There's a larger universal reality
of which we are all a part
The further we probe into the universe
The more remarkable are the discoveries we make
The quest for the truth, in and of itself,
Is a story that's filled with insights
From our lonely point in the cosmos
We have through the power of thought
Been able to peer back to a brief moment
After the beginning of the universe
I think that science changes the way your mind works
To think a little more deeply about things
Science replaces private prejudice
With publicly verifiable evidence
Hello there! Do you want to play?
What is that pretty thing in your hand? Do you want to play?
What is that yummy stuff dripping down your hand? Do you want to play?
I smell ice cream! Can I haz ice cream?
Ice cream! Ice cream! Do you want to play?
Isn't that just Ducky!
Monday, May 14, 2012
A breath of fresh air from TheraminTrees on a Monday morning.
I was delighted to find this Spanish translation of the video. Bravo to TheraminTrees (or whomever is responsible) for making this excellent work more accessible!
Sunday, May 13, 2012
|Respect. How does that work, anyway?|
“I have met some highly intelligent believers, but history has no record to say that [s]he knew or understood the mind of god. Yet this is precisely the qualification which the godly must claim—so modestly and so humbly—to possess. It is time to withdraw our 'respect' from such fantastic claims, all of them aimed at the exertion of power over other humans in the real and material world.”
― Christopher Hitchens, The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever
Respect. We hear a lot about it. But, how do we as individuals and as a society determine who is deserving of our respect? The Paige Sultzbach story last week got me thinking about this.
We hear every single day that we owe special, unassailable, respect for the religious beliefs of others, simply because they are religious beliefs. There is no way to evaluate the relative merits of religious ideas because the very act of questioning, evaluating or criticizing religious beliefs is deemed disrespectful and being disrespectful of religion is taboo. This catch-22 situation means that even when religious ideas clearly cause harm to ourselves or others, the cultural taboo which demands unearned respect for religious dogma and practices also forbids questioning them.
More precisely, people are pressured every day of their lives to pay respect - and be subordinate - to the religious majority wherever they live. In Iran, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia (to name a few countries under explicit Islamic rule) that would be the Muslim majority. In the USA, Denmark, Hungary, Canada and Great Britain (to name a few countries with explicit or implicit Christian state religions) it is the Christian majority. Of all of these, the United States was the first to explicitly guarantee in its Constitution that no single religion would be established by the state, thus preventing the official empowerment of one religious group over all others. In this way, the framers of the Constitution hoped to provide the foundation for a truly revolutionary new kind of nation: a country where people could be as free as humanly possible; where the rights and welfare of the individual would be balanced as far as humanly possible with the rights and welfare of the rest of the people, preventing both tyranny of the majority and the rise of theocratic dictators.
|Freedom of religion!* |
*For Christians only.
Demonstrating a wisdom beyond experience (because such a nation had never been tried before), they determined that, in order to form a more perfect union, the United States must be kept free of the appalling religious strife that had destroyed virtually every great civilization in history before them. They were convinced that freedom of religion in a nation that could not legally favor any one religion over the others would offer the best hope for the country to prosper, by enabling the people to prosper in peaceful coexistence as equals.
But there have always been ambitious groups who seek to restore the bad old days of feudal oppression for their own benefit. There have always been people who consider themselves the chosen ones - the nobility which is called to rule over the lesser classes. Before the ink was dry on the US Constitution, religious groups were attempting to circumvent the prohibition of establishment of state religions. The freedom to practice their own religion has never been enough for some Christians; they have always sought special status and special power. That battle over the separation of church and state has been waxing and waning constantly in the 225+ years since Independence, and while the Constitutional guarantee has held in theory, in practice the religious power-play has succeeded in carving so many inroads into the separation of church and state that the country has been reduced to a de facto Christian nation.
|You want to build a mosque? Well, we have news for you.|
Just guess whose country we think this is!
The truth is that the Christian religion has been quietly empowered both financially and politically, and it aims to gain supreme power by replacing the current republic with a Bible-based state. Christian conservatives will never cede that power willingly. The truth is that when minority religions or the non-religious expect equal respect from the Christian majority, the Christian majority cries persecution and refuses to honor the Constitution that they claim to uphold, but which they are undermining because they hate it as a threat to their ambitions. When a minority's beliefs conflict with majority Christian beliefs, the majority will use every avenue available to force the minority to accept having Christian belief shoved down its throat, even when the Constitution has promised that this will not happen. For Christians, the First Amendment guarantees their religion; they believe that it guarantees that they have the right to strip away the freedom of others to enjoy public life free of Christian proselytizing and the presumption of Christian supremacy. Christians regard the insistence of others that the Constitution guarantees them the same freedoms and rights as Christians as a challenge to Christian rights.
|...as long as it is Christianity|
The very act of respecting the beliefs of non-Christians - or even of allowing them to be visible, free to simply exist in this society - is perceived by Christians as an attack upon them. In short, the Christian majority claims to be oppressed if they are prevented from oppressing others. It is an amazing fact of western life that the concept of religious persecution has been perverted by the Christian majority to such an extent that it is no longer recognizable as a meaningful description of the reality of what persecution actually means. It has been turned on its head. In the United States today, Christian religious belief is accorded such a level of public respect that it must be deferred to in every situation. In schools, in government offices, in supermarkets, hospitals and gas stations, non-Christians cannot escape the constant demand for public obeisance to Christianity.
|Ah, religious respect |
for girls and women.
Last week, a young girl was made the scapegoat in a fundamentalist Catholic power-play. The fact that Christian misogyny is still so open and accepted in society is bad enough, but the repeated expressions of respect by everyone involved - including the victims of the discrimination itself - for this medieval, systemic marginalization of women and girls was little short of amazing. In a breathtaking show of oppositional apologia, the ultra-conservative Catholic school in question brazenly couched its policy of discrimination against girls as "teaching boys to respect ladies". Apparently, the only way to "respect ladies" is to bar them from sports they are qualified to play, deny them opportunities to compete with their ability peers and generally limit their horizons as far as possible within strictly segregated, narrowly traditional gender roles.
The gender roles that Our Lady of Sorrows and similar ultra-conservative Christian organizations advocate for boys and girls tend - as always when "religious tradition" is invoked - to mean these things: active, dynamic, leadership roles for boys; passive, submissive, invisible roles for girls. In this religiously-fueled zeal to squeeze their female adherents into a suffocatingly circumscribed world of few joys and almost no choices, conservative Christians are exactly like their conservative brethren of other faiths - ultra-orthodox Jews and the Islamist Taliban - which enshrine repression of women into their orthodoxy under the same perniciously virtuous-sounding label of "respect for women".
|A lifetime of shrouded invisibility.|
Now, that's respect!
I do not respect the beliefs of Our Lady of Sorrows school. I condemn their beliefs and their actions as the immoral, repressive expression of deeply misogynistic theology. Attempts to establish medieval religious extremism should never go unchallenged in a civilized, egalitarian, free society. We would do well to remember that no society is impervious to the ever-present danger of right-wing authoritarianism. Domestic turmoil usually lays the conditions for the rise of oppressive theocracies, but war and failed government are not the only ways that authoritarian rule can gain a foothold in a contemporary society. Too often, authoritarian theocratic regimes take over when the people of a country have become complacently overconfident in their ability to detect and deflect such extremism. Tolerance of religious oppression is not respectful. It is foolhardy.
It is time to stop paying undeserved respect to religious groups which marginalize and disrespect selected groups of human beings - usually female human beings. People who possess sincere respect for the essential humanity and dignity of others must refuse to offer "respect" for these oppressive ideologies. We must stand up and declare that this behavior is an affront to human dignity. It is immoral and people must have the courage to call it what it is. Religion is powerful. It is powerful enough to call for the elimination of its opponents in most parts of the world, and most religions do not hesitate to do so when they are threatened. But, if people who value freedom of religion and who understand the threat which tyranny of the majority poses will not stand up, then we are - willingly? - participating in the destruction of our own democratic republic.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Like Dawkins, I find the reality of our existence thrilling.
A little inspiration for a Saturday morning.
With every century
Our eyes on the universe have been opened anew
We are witness
To the very brink of time and space
We must ask ourselves
We who are so proud of our accomplishments
What is our place in the cosmic perspective of life?
The exploration of the cosmos
Is a voyage of self discovery
As long as there have been humans
We have searched for our place in the cosmos
Are there things about the universe
That will be forever beyond our grasp?
Are there things about the universe that are
One of the great revelations of space exploration
Is the image of the earth, finite and lonely
Bearing the entire human species
Through the oceans of space and time
Matter flows from place to place
And momentarily comes together to be you
Some people find that thought disturbing
I find the reality thrilling
As the ancient mythmakers knew
We're children equally of the earth and the sky
In our tenure on this planet, we've accumulated
Dangerous evolutionary baggage
We've also acquired compassion for others,
Love for our children,
And a great soaring passionate intelligence
The clear tools for our continued survival
We could be in the middle
Of an inter-galactic conversation
And we wouldn't even know
We've begun at last
To wonder about our origins
Star stuff contemplating the stars
Tracing that long path
Our obligation to survive and flourish
Is owed not just to ourselves
But also to that cosmos
Ancient and vast, from which we spring
Friday, May 11, 2012
Happy sunny FreyaDay, Humans!
I am full of joy this morning! I am energized. I am warm!
The sun is shining. The birds are singing!
My Human wants to play, so I will humour him for a little while.
I am full of joy this morning! I am warm in the May sunshine!
Thank gods it's FreyaDay!
|The ACAA state baseball championship game was canceled due to Catholic misogyny. Tell the truth, CNN!|
CNN reports that a Catholic school in Arizona displayed its festering misogyny for all to see last night, when it denied its boys' baseball team an opportunity to play in the Arizona Charter Athletic Association state championship baseball game.
The Christian religion will continue to behave in an openly misogynistic manner until a critical mass in society finally rejects it, but I am sure the justified outrage in the public reactions and the media reporting on the story might help move things in the right direction, amirite?
But, wait! The CNN story begins with this blatantly misleading - and, naturally, victim-blaming - line (emphasis on bald misrepresentation, mine):
"The Arizona Charter Athletic Association state championship baseball game wasn't played Thursday night because Mesa Prep's second baseman is a girl."
|CNN fail. Again.|
The game wasn't played on Thursday night because of the bigotry of the unnamed officials at Our Lady of Sorrows school. The cowardly nameless spokesperson(s) for the school denied their students a chance to play for the state championship because of their refusal to allow their boys to mix with girls in sports. The presence of Paige Sultzbach on the field did not stop the game; Catholic misogyny did. I think people should ask why the CNN writer, Brad Lendon, played so willingly into the narrative that it was "because of the girl" that this game was cancelled.
Moving down the page, the article goes from bad to worse.
"“It takes tremendous moral courage to stand by what it is you believe, and they are doing what they think is right,” Mesa Prep Headmaster Robert Wagner told KTVK."
Wrong, Mr. Wagner.
Why would you excuse the behavior of another school which robbed not only its own students of a great experience, but yours as well? What does it say about your attitude toward girls - and toward Paige's presence on the baseball team - when you are comfortable describing the baldly misogynistic discrimination by another school against one of your students as an act of "tremendous moral courage"? Seriously, WTF?
|Women in sports? The horror!|
It is part of a larger power play, too. This Catholic school's goal is to put pressure on the entire league to eliminate opportunities for girls like Paige who had no other option to play other than the boys' team. They ruined the championship for everyone in the league and have neatly set up a problem for next year. They have thrown down a challenge to the other participants in the league, one which will undermine morale and leave all the teams in the league wondering what will be the point if such a thing will surely happen again (possibly with additional schools of "tremendous moral courage" similarly emboldened to refuse to play Mesa Prep if Paige is on the field). But, thanks to the manner of the reporting and the collusion of pandering officials like Mr. Wagner, the blame for it all will be placed squarely and unfairly on the shoulders of one Paige Sultzbach.
They know how the the implacable tyranny of majorities works: the powerful never ask themselves, "Wait a minute, why should the weaker among us always have to lose privileges?" - they say, "Why the hell should all of us have to give the weaker ones the same privileges we enjoy? We won't do it!". Including one girl (or even more girls) in the game (if they qualify for the team by the same rules as the boys) should not have been difficult. It isn't difficult. Games involving hand-eye coordination and other non-gender specific abilities are not barriers for inclusiveness. But, for religious and patriarchal societies, it is the inclusion of girls itself that is anathema. Girls are other, and Bible-based theism demands that they be marginalized. That is systemic misogyny.
The endgame is to force girls out of sports unless they can be ghettoized into all-girl sports programs (read: programs given short shrift in time, resources and promotion in many schools, especially religious schools). With reporting like Brad Lendon's and attitudes like Mr. Wagner's, they may succeed.
|That's right, insecure men. Those scary female eyes are looking at you!|
Thanks to my nifty son-in-law, DvdD for pointing me toward this story!
Everyone deserves a little bit of awesome on a Friday morning. Enjoy!
We are all connected;
To each other, biologically
To the earth, chemically
To the rest of the universe atomically
I think nature's imagination
Is so much greater than man's
She's never going to let us relax
We live in an in-between universe
Where things change all right
But according to patterns, rules,
Or as we call them, laws of nature
I'm this guy standing on a planet
Really I'm just a speck
Compared with a star, the planet is just another speck
To think about all of this
To think about the vast emptiness of space
There's billions and billions of stars
Billions and billions of specks
The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it
But the way those atoms are put together
The cosmos is also within us
We're made of star stuff
We are a way for the cosmos to know itself
Across the sea of space
The stars are other suns
We have traveled this way before
And there is much to be learned
I find it elevating and exhilarating
To discover that we live in a universe
Which permits the evolution of molecular machines
As intricate and subtle as we
I know that the molecules in my body are traceable
To phenomena in the cosmos
That makes me want to grab people in the street
And say, have you heard this??
(Richard Feynman on hand drums and chanting)
There's this tremendous mess
Of waves all over in space
Which is the light bouncing around the room
And going from one thing to the other
And it's all really there
But you gotta stop and think about it
About the complexity to really get the pleasure
And it's all really there
The inconceivable nature of nature
Thursday, May 10, 2012
via Pharyngula. Better to laugh than to cry, I suppose! "(GOP), it's not you, it's - no, no it's you."
Bill Donahue, chief American Catholic (sorry Santorum), is outraged over President Obama's declaration of support for marriage equality for all. In an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN last night, Donahue was unequivocal about where he stands:
|United States Catholic Congress?|
Perhaps someday, Bill.
You've got majority Christians
on your side, after all.
Got that everyone? Phil proudly and publicly speaks for the "moral majority", the Christian right who so enthusiastically supported Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and the entire cast of Bible-believing theocrats who are currently running the Republican party. He wants the law to discriminate against anyone whose life and "choices" do not pass
But wait, what did Jesus have to say about abortion? Nothing, you say? Ok, well, what did he say about gay marriage? Oops, nothing again! Well, surely Jesus had something to say about a man and a woman and holy matrimony...?
Bingo! Why yes, yes Jesus DID mention the holy bond between a man and a woman. It is the only currently relevant relationship arrangement that he did comment on: Jesus was against divorce.
|Since Christians are fighting against laws|
which make Jesus weep, they ought to
criminalize people who divorce.
You first, Donahue!
Phil Donahue, who is divorced, is in a tizzy over gay marriage and abortion, and yet he is curiously undisturbed by divorce, the only social issue of these three that Jesus actually condemned, clearly and unequivocally. Jesus pointed out that the provision for divorce in Mosaic law was made because Moses had to accommodate the "hardness of heart" of the men of his time, but now that Jesus was there, that Mosaic law no longer applies. Old covenant/New Covenant. It's simple, really.
Except that it isn't.
So, let's try to get this straight: Christians want gay marriage and abortion outlawed because they claim that some vague prohibitions of these things appear - however ambiguously and subject to interpretation - in the Old Testament of their holy book. Bible-believers claim that this is solid Biblical law and they will do everything in their power to enforce it - not just within their own religious communities, but throughout society - by working tirelessly to write state laws that force their religion down everyone else's throat. In other words, to establish a Bible-based authoritarian theocracy - the Iran of the west, if you will.
|Sure there were hundreds of "laws"|
but come on, laws, schmaws. The
Christian right will decide what is
or isn't law now. Got that, everyone?
Some Christians, Donahue presumably among them, feel A-OK - actually passionate - about persecuting GLBT people claiming their "authority" to do so is derived from the vicious teachings laid down in the Old Testament. They feel A-OK about tormenting and subjugating women too, denying them free agency and denying them the right to control what happens to their own bodies, citing the Bible as the inerrant source of their knowledge of what is the righteous treatment of women.
|Except when a "moral majority" says it is. |
Got that, sluts, homos and godless socialists?
Turning to the New Testament, we find that Jesus never once mentioned homosexuality. If Christians follow the red text, and abide by the New Covenant that Jesus is believed to have made with them, then Christians ought to make no judgement on homosexuality. Further, Jesus specifically stated that homosexuality can be inborn (Matthew 19:12). Indeed, by following other words directly attributable to Jesus, Christians of good conscience ought to be supporting equal rights and fighting for the protection and dignity of those who are marginalized and downtrodden in society, too.
So which will it be, Christians? Which Testament do you plan to force onto the entire population of the United States when your ambition of a Christian theocracy is fully realized?
|Bible-believers unite! |
Biblical Law in the USA!
The New Testament emphasizes charity toward the poor, protection for the weak and helpless, loving forgiveness for others, turning the other cheek and above all, refraining from judging others. Jesus said nothing ever about homosexuality (or abortion) and in fact, he affirmed that homosexuality is inborn - which spoils the Christian argument that it is a choice, thus putting them at odds with God's creation, the filthy sinners - and he condemned divorce. Christian self-named "Jesus-freaks" had better get right with Jesus and follow all of his teachings, instead of cherry-picking. Give up your money and look after the poor, accept that homosexuality is inborn and leave your judgement to God, turn the other cheek and above all, no divorce! Did you get that, Bill?
"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment that you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." - Matthew 7:1-5
Bill Donahue again: "I want the law to discriminate against straight people who live together — I used to call it shacking up, now it’s called cohabitation — I want the law to discriminate against all alternative lifestyles, against gays and unions."
Gee, Bill. Personally, I want the law to discriminate against hypocritical assholes who wield the Bible as a cudgel against those they hate.