Tag Archives: Religion

Hannity spinning, spinning, just not, alas, in his grave… yet.

Plenty of time for that though. All his Ill Gotten Gold won’t save him.
The Pope, the one Hannity and others praised for “saving the Catholic Church from a Marxist rebellion”… having a little bit of trouble. However are they going to spin that against their previous comments about Liberation Theology being “destroyed” by a pastoral letter written before he was a Cardinal?

What I as a Christian object to is that many will see ALL Christians as being represented by such Bigoted Capitalist Thieves like Hannity and the rest of the crew at Fox News and their Fellow Travellers. Like the Klan and THEIR subsidiary the Tea Party.

Nice bunch of fellows they’re promoting as being the Next Leaders of America. With, of course, Hegemony, ordained by God, Himself, over the entire world.

Which is what Liberation Theology opposes. With no blessing at all from his “holiness” Poop Been-a-dick.

Rebuilding the Temple of The Almighty Dollar… the WTC… capital as “god”

So they chose one that “gives the bird” to Heaven.
 
Nice Choice! If you believe that Money is the god of America, and that the Twin Towers were its Most Holy Temple. I heard a preacher once describe the 9/11 as being an attack against the basic tenets of Christianity …except, Jesus spoke against capitalism. And the first church at Jerusalem was a commune.

And, yes, it DOES look like four curled knuckles with an outstretched middle finger.

OOOOOOOO…. I bet that makes bin Laden shake in his sandals!

But my thought was, since the place is literally a grave to begin with, why not just pour a concrete slab 4 stories high and have the names of the Known Dead written on it as a tombstone? Maybe write the names of the thousands of Americans and Hundreds of Thousands of Afghans and Iraqis and Pakistanis etc etc etc that were slaughtered in an orgy of Hate, which funneled the treasury of the United States into the pockets of Bush and Cheney, who were extremely likely suspects in the destruction of the Towers in the first place. They made out like, well, the despicable Sneak Thief Cowards that they truly are.

Does anybody else find it intriguing that there were no high-level Finance or Trade ministers actually in the buildings at the time, on a Tuesday morning in the late summer? Or how about the Pentagon, top heavy with Colonels and Generals, (naval Captains and Admirals…) but not a single general dies in the attack? Or the fourth plane, supposedly going after the White House, when George coWard Bush had let it be known a couple of weeks in advance that he wasn’t going to be there?

By the way, if they’re looking to insult folks from the Arabian peninsula, the “sign of the fig” would be more appropriate.

But the ones who want to “wave the bloody shirt” to keep the BushWarz going (and putting more money into the pockets of the Corporate Elite) wouldn’t recognize that anyway.

The Godless God fearing Americans

What is all this Goddamn pomp? “Non-believers” got a mention in Barack Obama’s inaugural address, dead last after Christians, Muslims, Jews and Hindus, even though they rank second, and even though church abstainers actually comprise the majority of Americans. Yet even this second day, mentions of God, Lord, and prayer, continue ad nauseum. Talk about disrespect.

And why are atheists and agnostics named in the negative? Why aren’t they called rationalists? Churchgoers should be called reason disabled. What a farce. Are Americans to believe that Obama and his wife, Harvard grads, are religious? And which of the shysters of DC can be considered spiritual?

I’m watching the service at the National Cathedral, which, taking into account the time zones, is eating well into Obama’s first day in office. Assembled are a bunch of pharisees, a disproportionate sampling for certain, to voice their prayers for our lawmakers. Where were they when Bush and cronies were in attendance?

NOTE:
Was Obama’s multi denominational ceremony representative of American believers? Let’s have a look at the distribution of the 20 religious leaders attending the National Prayer Service, as they relate to their corresponding population segments, in descending order of size:

5 PROTESTANT EVANGELICALS, representing 27% of the US population:
Rev. Sharon Watkins, president, Disciples of Christ in North America
Rev. Andy Stanley, North Point Community Church
Rev. Suzan Johnson-Cook, Believers Christian Fellowship Church
Rev. Cynthia Hale, Ray of Hope Christian Church
Rev. Jim Wallis, Sojourners

7 MAINLINE PROTESTANTS, 21%
Katharine Jefferts-Schori, presiding bishop, Episcopal Church
Rev. John Bryson Chane, Washington Episcopal Bishop
Rev. Samuel Lloyd, dean of the cathedral, Episcopal Church
Canon Carol Wade, cathedral’s precentor
(Note: Episcopalians represent !.3%, but are third richest group)
Rev. Otis Moss Jr., father of pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ
Kirbyjon Caldwell, Windsor Village United Methodist Church
Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, Reformed Church in America

2 CATHOLICS, 22%
Donald Wuerl, Washington Catholic Archbishop
Rev. Francisco Gonzalez, auxiliary bishop, Washington archdiocese

1 MUSLIM, at 3%
Ingrid Mattson, president, Islamic Society of North America

1 each, HINDU and ORTHODOX, in sum 1.7%
Uma Mysorekar, president, Hindu Temple Society of North America
Archbishop Demetrios, primate, Greek Orthodox Church in America

3 JEWS, at 1.5% (but richest)
Rabbi Jerome Epstein, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Rabbi Haskal Lookstein, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun
Rabbi David Saperstein, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

(Is that AIPAC’s influence extending to America’s Christians?)

How about that corpulent Saddleback creep Rick Warren, reciting a completely forgettable invocation at yesterday’s inauguration?

Unheard by the masses was Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson’s earlier invocation, which was fathoms deeper than any of these high priests. HBO didn’t air it in their coverage of the Sunday inaugural buildup, but it’s available on Youtube. Here’s the transcript:

A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama
(Opening Inaugural Event, Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC, January 18, 2009)
By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson,
Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire

Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.

AMEN.

Compare and contrast to Rick Warren’s pop Sunday School simpleton-centric tripe. Transcripts have been posted online, discreetly correcting Warren’s 44/43 arithmetic error.

Almighty God, Our Father, everything we see and everything we can’t see exists because of You alone. It all comes from You, it all belongs to You, it all exists for Your glory. History is your story. The Scripture tells us, ‘Hear, oh Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one’ and You are the compassionate and merciful one and You are loving to everyone You have made.

Now today we rejoice not only in America’s peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time, we celebrate a hinge-point of history with the inauguration of our first African American president of the united states. We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where a a son of an African Immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership. And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven.

Give to our new president, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity. Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the Cabinet and every one of our freely elected leaders.

Help us, oh God, to remember that we are Americans. United not by race or religion or by blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all. When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us.

When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us. And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches and civility in our attitudes—even when we differ.

Help us to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all. May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet. And may we never forget that one day, all nations, all people will stand accountable before You. We now commit our new president and his wife Michelle and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.

I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life—Yeshua, Esa, Jesus, Jesus—who taught us to pray:

Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

The Jewish Nation

Yes, there has already been the establishment of ‘a Jewish nation’ and ‘Jewish Homeland’ since the Roman soldiers destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem after its siege in 70 AD.
khazaria kingdom

Most Christian Zionists (like Joseph Biden or Joe Lieberman, for examples) remain rather ignorant of this Jewish history though. The ‘Jewish Homeland’ was established not in Palestine, but in an area between the Black and Caspian seas, just north of what is today’s far Eastern Turkey and far Western Iran. Surprise! Not Palestine at all.

Like the Roman Emperor Constantine who made Christianity today’s dominant religion, Emperor Bulan of Khazaria made Judaism the state religion in this ‘Jewish Nation’ 600 plus years after the sacking of Jerusalem by the Romans. Didn’t know anything about that? Well, it does kind of conflict with today’s mythology around Israel, does it not?

Some might not want you to know much about real Jewish history, including Zionist Jews themselves! See this link for some information about Khazaria The fact that this area of Khazaria was right next to Persia might help explain some of the current President of Iran’s (Ahmadinejad) differing ideas about the origins of the Jewish people, perhaps?

Would Dominionists murder for Palin?

While we’ve been speculating whether lotto-winner candidate Sarah Palin measures up to big “C” Christian standards, lo, church ambitions of old step in. A minister friend of mine offered Ides of March for November and President-elect John McCain: Having a Christian Dominionist in line for the US presidency would mean curtains for the septuagenarian as soon as he’s sworn in. It doesn’t take Dan Brown to imagine religious zealots would stop at the proverbial nothing to raise one of their own to supreme power.

Whether syphilis takes John McCain or whether it’s Sarah’s poison lipstick, we’ll be Sieg Heiling President Palin, whose signing statements will be taken straight out of scripture. Then where will the poor world be? I’m thinking RBs. Revelations and nuclear bombs.

My friend envisions the remedy will be an urgent Palin impeachment leading to a Pelosi ascent. A circuitous Democratic Party re-coup to be sure, amidst global catastrophe from which it’s difficult to imagine our world will escape. No wonder the rich have privatized spaceship R&D.

Playing ball with the entrenched church

It would have been my mother’s seventieth birthday today. We found the badge she used to gain entry to the Colorado Penal System.
El Paso County Sheriff CHAPLAIN badge
Besides serving on State committees for prison reform, Mom would counsel female inmates who were about to be released. Often their release dates would be postponed and postponed. My mother worried she couldn’t be too outspoken against the war lest our pro-war Catholic Bishop revoke her chaplain status and she would lose access to the prisoners.

The Texas state government trial by press of the Eldorado parents

The Texas state government has decided to try the parents of the Eldorado children in the press by circulating new rumors that underage boys were sexually abused and that children had their bones deliberately broken by the parents. This is a new low to date in the government’s actions, who have yet, weeks after their raid, to file any criminal charges against anybody! …See MSNBC titled Official: Sex abuse of boys in sect possible
Texas investigators give few details, cite journal entries, interviews

Besides trying to taint this fundy religious group with being interested somehow in homosexual sex, the allegations about broken bones are certainly unique in its stupidity. Out of 417 children, the CPS claims that 41 children have evidence of broken bones! Well whoop-to-do here. Can you imagine the evil these parents had to have been up to? Where are the charges, Rick? Rick Perry is the Bush clone that is Governor of Texas who launched this nightmare. These evil parents were breaking children’s bones, but your courts can’t back any of that up, now can they? So it’s trial by slandering these folk in the press, is it?

Once again, it is not backing up the sick religion of fundy Mormonism of the 19th Century to be against the government’s actions at Eldorado. It is not supporting sex with underage girls. It is simply nothing more than supporting the right to a fair trial before punishment is made. It is to not support group punishment when maybe a few have broken some laws. It is Americanism not to cheerlead the victimization of vulnerable parents by a sick government bureaucracy.

A wondrous mystery

I watched the coverage of the Pope’s final message to the lucky faithful — 60,000 hankie-waving fans in Yankee Stadium — and can only shake my head in disbelief. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI Am I the only one who doesn’t understand this Pope-worship stuff? It is so weirdly absurd that I hardly know what to make of it. Who are these people driving hundreds of miles to catch a glimpse of him? Those who turn out by the thousands, even without tickets, just to be near him for a few minutes? Looking at the pontiff (just the word makes me laugh) clad from head to toe in white, barely this side of the grass, reminds me so much of the movie Foul Play that the whole thing seems hilarious.

I am pretty sure that no one I know personally would even consider going to great trouble to see the Pope (except my mom, of course), so it makes me wonder what kind of person does. Are they part of other groups that also make me slightly uncomfortable, like NASCAR fans maybe? Or those who drive around the country in silver RVs looking for other people with silver RVs? Maybe I’m just jealous that I wasn’t invited to join the club. I did do a ten-year stint in Catholic schools, after all, and never missed Sunday mass until I went off to college. Even in Boulder I went to St. Thomas Aquinas for a few months, until time spent in the confession booth started interfering with my studies. So why do I not know what they know?

No pithy analysis will be forthcoming. As I said, this is beyond me.

Constantine’s Sword debuts on April 19

Sword of Constantine documentary debuts in US on April 19
Oren Jacoby filmed part of this documentary in Colorado Springs in 2006. I remember when he interviewed our vigil for the Christian Peacemaker Team members held captive in Iraq. We were assembling daily at noon at Camp Casey. The filmmakers arrived with their camera held out the window, rolling. Jacoby had hired a local crew to film the Colorado Springs segments, and rendezvous’d with them in the Toons parking lot. Both entourage and team were wearing black, as if they’d stepped out of a cab in New York City. Our daily CPT event, which included a Guantanamo protest and a march to congressional offices, had been covered by three videographers in as many weeks, but this felt like a visit from the big league. CONSTANTINE’S SWORD screens this weekend in NY.

Colorado Springs plays role in Eldorado! Fake teen phone call linked to FLDS raid

Texas Rangers advanced on the YFZ ranch prepared for resistance
How embarrassing.
 
Colorado “Jesus Springs” finds itself in the news on the POLICE STATE ACTION in Eldorado!
 
33-year old Rozita Swinton
of Colorado Springs, was arrested last night for false reporting, for making a call posing as abused teenager “Sarah” to a rescue mission operated by an ex-FLDS member. It was the call which launched the Texas Ranger raid on the Yearning For Zion Ranch. The charges against Swinton are local, but Texas authorities were present at the arrest, and a judge has sealed the evidence…

To their credit, the Texas lawmen didn’t plant a dead “Sarah” at the scene to confirm the news reporters’ not-unspoken worst fears. What will become of the custody hearings now that the WMDs are proven to have been fabricated? If Iraq is any indication…

The photos linked above show how law enforcement advanced on the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado Tx, on the 400 plus children they were intent on repatriating into the state religious system.

For those of you twisted up about the apparent retro-feminist roles of the FLDS wives, I suggest you research polygamist societies. I remember seeing a documentary which showed their family dynamics are largely matriarchal. The women rule the households and the husband sperm-donor passes from each according to the wives’ schedules, which are dictated by their needs, chores, and appliances that need fixing.

FLDS folk evicted on religious grounds

Is Eldorado worse than Waco? Well… No one has yet been burned alive, or shot in the back trying to escape the flames, but neither can the Feds claim Eldorado has been an operational error. The implications of what’s transpiring at the YFZ Ranch are worse. In Eldorado Texas, members of the FLDS church are being removed from where they live under the pretext of a social services complaint, if even that turns out not to be fabrication. Are they being evicted? Taken into custody? Taken into detention? What should the American public think of seeing several hundred people, distinguished by belonging to a non-mainstream religious group, being TRANSPORTED against their wishes, away?

Church of Latter Day Saints down 200

White girls await transport to new belief system
Rival American Christian fringe denominations compete fiercely for their flocks.
 
The First Baptist Church of Eldorado Texas scored big this weekend when authorities raided the Fundamental Church of the Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and the Baptists were able to score 200 of the underage Mormon girls. Said a bystander of the rescued girls: “They’re singing songs. So happy and sweet and precious. It’s heart-breaking.”

Horton Hears Your Fetus

Horton Hears a Who
Do you remember the lesson of Horton Hears a Who? No matter how small, everyone matters. Fox has brought the theme to the animated screen and not-unlikely bedfellows are seizing on the message. Under the revival tents, the anti-abortion preachers want you to glean something further from Horton: that the very life of a tiny embryo could depend on you, if only your inner elephant can be persuaded you hear its call.

Although, they’re are not talking about the embryos deliberately created en vitro by fertility clinics, terminated when too many have taken to the uterine wall. Nor babies miscarried, nor still-born. Do the pro-life Hortons not hear them?

Let’s agree that abortion is tragic, and shouldn’t be bandied about as a lifestyle choice like a Brazilian wax or a boob job. Personally I’d prefer our culture wasn’t so enthralled with promiscuity. Don’t encourage drinking if you can’t live with the car wrecks. Don’t paint sex as the ultimate of fulfillments if your society has set as acceptable norm a procreative age over a dozen years later than we are biological capable.

Fighting Fifth Avenue and mankind’s propensity to hedonism is doubtless harder than bringing the hammer down on a pregnant teen. Shouldn’t the church come down on immorality instead of its victims? Abortion is a hard choice, like any harsh dilemma. We euthanize cats and dogs when there become too many. A “domestic” animal designates those in man’s care, which live to serve us, and die according to our dinner plan. We ride our horses but leave them to the French to eat. To our credit we show a reluctance to face nature’s difficult choices.

Religious beliefs have been the ultimate causes of war, justifying killings in fanatical number, to this present day. Religion is always behind genocide. What is it about pre-infanticide that’s got zealots so indignant?

Is this about an egg and sperm’s right to wed? Or about the church’s prerogative to mandate pregnancy? I think to a large extent, it’s about enforcing puritanism, the better to reserve the sex drive for manipulating people. You can’t have your masses contentedly debauched, they must be repressed and thwarted, being lured by sex to get married and pregnant to breed the next batch of easily motivated worker/consumer drones.

I admire the Right to Life credo that all life is sacred. But is it? Right to Lifers remind me of pedigree animal rescue outfits, only THEIR breed is sacred enough worth saving. What about other forms of life? Owls? Whales, small fish? Are these pious folks practicing vegans, concerned not to exploit any living being? Do they feed themselves like the Buddhists monks who consume liquids through a strainer, careful not to swallow even a flea?

The pro-lifer’s concern is not for the human being small person, it’s only for the unborn baby. And it’s only for the unborn of their likeness, and more than likely from their neighborhood. Other cultures’ offspring are mere driving factors of overpopulation, unless they are our colonial suppliers of cheap labor.

And what about already born babies? Or babies -or tiny children- belonging to foreigners, right now being shot at by our troops? Where is the Right to Life alarm about people we are depriving of life? Horton’s lesson was that others matter, regardless of size. Would that mean not just little people? What of adult people being exploited, tortured or condemned to death, who is concerned for their right to life?

One of the charms of Dr. Seuss is that his myriad creatures represent an incalculable gamut of fantasy beings. Horton does not hear a baby elephant for example, he hears a WHO. The Whos of Whoville are not of his world at all, and might well inhabit a forth dimensional anthill as far as Horton can figure. Would this not be quite the humanitarian message for religious nuts preoccupied only for their own? Miserably too, they are not obsessed with precisely their own, but about YOUR own, whom they claim as theirs to save. Their daughters are having abortions, to the last, I can assure you that.

The your-baby demagogues are motivated by penance, for deed past or to come, but instead of flagellating themselves, they’re beating on your daughter. They are concerned for the right to life of her baby, to be conceived unprepared for and un-afforded. They stand for that baby’s right to the unending cycle of ill-parenting, vocational training, indebtedness, and life of servitude.

Dr. Seuss lived long enough to see the Religious Right’s interest in exploiting the Horton Hears a Sinner theme. Both Theodor Geisel and his widow publicly repudiated the holier-than-thou interpretation being used to agitate against abortion. But now his earthly voice is extinguished, and we can see Pro-Lifers don’t respect the dead either.

Income distribution according to religion

Income Distribution of U.S. Religious Traditions -PEW
%Pop.
Sample
Religious Tradition <$30K $30K-
$49.9
$50K-
$74.9
$75K-
$99.9
$100K+
100% National Total [NORM] 31% 22% 17% 13% 18%
27% Protestant Evangelical 34% 24% 18% 11% 13%
1.4 — Assemblies of God 41% 26 15 11 8
0.4 — 7th-Day Adventist 46% 26 10 7 11
7.2 — Southern Baptist 30 25 19 11 15
21 Mainline Protestant 25 21 18 15 21
1.2 — American Baptist 46% 22 16 9 8
0.4 — Anglican 17 16 12 15 39%
1.3 — Episcopal 16 19 11 18 35%
2.4 — Evangelical Lutheran 24 24 21 15 17
6.4 — United Methodist 23 21 19 16 22
5.6 Historical Black 47% 26 12 7 8
22 Catholic 31 20 16 14 19
1.7 Mormon 26 21 22 16 16
1.0 Orthodox 20 24 16 13 28
0.6 Jehovah’s Witness 42% 23 17 9 9
0.4 Other Christians 29 21 13 13 23
0.9 Jews -Reformed 11 8 14 12 55%
0.6 Jews -Conservative 12 14 17 14 43%
2.9 Muslim 35 24 15 10 16
1.2 Buddhist 25 19 17 17 22
0.7 Hindu 9 10 15 22 43%
0.8 Unitarian/Liberal 19 25 16 13 26
0.4 New Age 39% 23 17 12 9
15 Unaffiliated 29 23 16 13 19

Have a look at the income distributions of various religious adherents in the US, according to a PEW Center poll of 29,435 Americans. Large variations higher than the norm are highlighted.

In praise of Pope Benedict and his boys

Get out of jail free monopolyThe Vatican has updated the list of the seven deadly sins! We are no longer to be concerned only with gluttony, lust, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. As if these weren’t more than enough! Oh, woe is I.

The new cardinal sins (those that require absolution from a priest to be forgiven — otherwise you’re lookin’ at a stint in Purgatory) are pollution, mind-damaging drug use, and genetic experimentation. Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti, the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, also made mention of the ever-widening gap between the haves and have-nots. “The poor are always becoming poorer and the rich ever more rich, feeding unsustainable social injustice….If yesterday sin had a rather individualistic dimension, today it has a weight, a resonance, that’s especially social, rather than individual.”

The church seems to be walking the walk here, at least where the Earth’s fate is concerned. During Pope Benedict’s papacy, Vatican engineers have developed plans for some Holy See buildings to use solar energy, including photovoltaic cells on the roof of the auditorium for pilgrims’ audiences with the pontiff.

As for fighting social injustice, one needs only visit the Vatican to sense that perhaps the church has a way to go on this one. I’ve heard suggestions in the past that the church sell some of its astounding collection of artwork to help the poor. The reply is that the art should be considered public wealth, equally available for all to see. A reasonable argument, especially if one has the resources to make it to the Vatican.

As for the billions in real estate owned by the church, reference is usually made to Jesus’ obvious love for the temple in Jerusalem as justification. The big beautiful churches, after all, were not built at great monetary cost, but through the dedication of thousands of laborers and through the prayers of the faithful. Again, a reasonable position. The Vatican, the artwork, and the great churches of Europe are part of human history and probably shouldn’t be sold off to collectors and developers for fast cash.

It’s not often that I find myself in agreement with the Catholic church. But I have to say, I think they are on the right track here.

i have no tribe dot com slash lineage

iHaveNoTribe.com is a stateside effort for ex-pat Kenyans to renounce their tribal ties, or give it the old college try, to set an example for their friends and family (and tribe!) back home. The new refrain being: I am a Kenyan. Valiant, but what does it mean? At NMT we know something about tribe.

It sounds good, doesn’t it? To cast off old-fashioned family ties, vestiges of biology, the roots certainly of bigotry and xenophobia. But blood ties are the only bonds we can know without being taught them. Familial bonds are part of our inherent biological imperative, to procreate, to protect the prospects of our progeny, their interests being synonymous with ours. It goes without saying, doesn’t it? We look after our own.

As our bloodlines spread over greater numbers, we have to be reminded who to consider our own. Higher ideals, often religion, would have us see all of mankind as our own. Subsets of race feed our need to recognize ourselves in others. Further subsets collect nationalities. National feelings of fraternity become patriotism. But is that natural at all?

Where we are led to believe to think about others as ourselves, usually requiring sacrifice of the individual, is for the collective good. A collection of someone’s.

In the case of Kenya, the subjugation of tribes would benefit the larger group, the collected population of the state. It’s become civilized tradition, precursor to globalization, to put country before traditional division. But what is a country? In Africa in particular it’s a colonial apportionment of land based on what territories the western explorers were able to conquer and hold together. Or it can be the subsequent holdings of whoever was the last ambitious chieftain. In either case, they are combinations of majority peoples interwoven with minorities, tribes on the rise landlording over those on the wane.

The directive to ignore tribal differences would seem to serve mainly dominant bloodlines. Having reached beyond its own dominions, an expanding tribe needs to fold the minority neighbors into its ranks to populate and work the extended lands. The common good being as a matter of fact the leadership’s prosperity.

Tribes were the original sustainable paradigm for land stewardship before societies needed a system of ownership to support non-productive hierarchies. Tribal claim to land was determined by who could hold it, usually directly related to how much of its resources you needed. Native Americans tribes protected their territories based on their number. Civilizations brought the fat cats who drew more than their share. These included the priests, and thus the need to explain that the administrators of peoples were your extended tribe.

Scotland used to be divided into clans, large extended families which inhabited the moors and highlands. Land wasn’t owned, clans grew or shrank based on the aptitudes of their chiefs, and borders adjusted accordingly. When the English invaded, they divided the lands and introduced ownership. Clans were rendered obsolete when the English landlords discovered they didn’t need farming labor. They discovered that raising sheep netted a bigger profit than farming, with fewer workers to feed, prompting the exodus to the industrialized cities.

Tribes that might have stood up for their indigenous rights to land and heritage folded for the greater good of Scotland, owned by people who were not by any measure of their tribe.

How far should man relinquish his nature? I have no tribe is a repudiation of lineage and ancestry. Will I have no mother be next?

Why not divide Kenya into states based on tribal boundaries? Redraw Africa into tribal regions instead of the remnants of colonies. The difficulty comes from convincing the tribes at present accustomed to living off the fat, with few remaining ties to real land. Elsewhere these are like the Sunni of Iraq, and the Tutsi of Rwanda.

Promoting education and ignorance

Have I a verdict on Greg Mortenson now that I’ve had a chance to see him? He’s an incredibly likable guy, doing great good; to my values, doing fantastic work. But I’m a secular westerner, concerned about preserving the ideals of the enlightenment, and worried about the challenge posed by overpopulation. Are these the concerns of Islam? Do fundamentalist Muslims favor personal fulfillment of the individual and smaller families?

Greg Mortenson is advancing my agenda and I’d certainly like to think this will lead to prosperity and peace for everyone, but in the meantime I’m certain these actions are antagonistic to Muslims. I’d prefer we consult with Islamic leaders about prospects for peaceful coexistence, not peace engineered on curbing their numbers.

Perhaps Greg can champion the educating of Americans to tolerate other belief systems, some of which may not value literacy above family and religion.

Westerners subject themselves to schooling because it’s the cultural conditioning with which we equip ourselves for our complex post-agrarian world. Does everyone need it? Do Pakistani girls who are going to marry by age twelve need to be literate? Critical thinking and scientific understanding are values of ours. Getting married at a later age, and having fewer children, are values of ours.

If Islamic fundamentalists are rushing to indoctrinate adherents with the intention of recruiting Jihadists to attack western encroachment, you have to admit Mortenson’s conquest by education would be one of the causes. Mortenson’s methods are infinitely preferable to our military’s, but they are invasive all the same.

Central Institute AsiaThe disservice of Greg Mortenson’s lecture tour may be that he’s selling an over-simplified solution. Mortenson preached a message of hope not fear, hurrah, to an audience that really wants to hope. With Pennies for Peace, we can hope that kids’ pocket change will bring us closer to world peace. With the Central Asia Institute, we can hope to end-run our own government’s incurable ways. Is it true, do you think?

The white elephant in the room was so palpably invisible Dr. Greg may well have trained with David Copperfield. Not even lip service to it: Capitalism.

Mortenson’s idealism does not address globalization, the World Bank, debt, impoverishment by design, intentional destabilization, protracted war-making, etc. We the People may want world peace, we the people of the world could possibly come together through education, but will our industrial mechanisms allow it? Americans can’t even fraternize with Mexico!

The fantastic promise of Mortenson’s efforts would distract Americans from the more difficult challenge at hand, for which many of us perhaps are finding it harder to muster hope: arresting the destructiveness of our market forces, our government and its corporate oligarchy. Putting our hopes in schooling the children of Islam will be of little avail if our military-driven economies increase their plundering and exploitation all the while.

That’s who I think is behind the promotion of Three Cups of Tea. That’s why the Center of Homeland Security sponsored Mortenson’s visit. That’s why a self-defined hapless do-gooder is getting such traction. He’s selling a fix so easy it requires no introspection. Nothing to fix here, it’s the Muslim who needs learnin’.

Greg Mortenson’s own cup of tea

In his own words, Greg Mortenson is quite a bit more revealing about his motives in Pakistan. Pax Americana is definitely a subtlety lost on him.
 
Central Asian regions where CAI has financed constructionThis map is from the Central Asia Institute‘s own brochure. It shows the parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan where Greg Mortenson’s CAI has helped finance community building projects. I thought the shaded area formed an interesting buffer zone along the border to… CHINA! Is that region of greater interest peacewise than the war-torn borders facing Afghanistan or India?!

The current Independent features a cover story on Mortensen, to promote his Jan 15 Colorado College appearance. It turns out he’s as inarticulate as his dictation of Three Cups of Tea suggests. Here’s how Mortenson regards his unwitting Islamic accomplices:

…we bring in mullahs who support girls’ education. We have two ex-Taliban who are now teaching in our girls’ schools and have become some of our biggest proponents. It’s somewhat similar to an ex-smoker or an alcoholic who has changed and becomes very against smoking or drinking.

Here Mortenson describes how his schools convince Muslim communities to enroll their girls:

We even use good old-fashioned Western capitalism. We go and tell a mullah: If I want to marry a girl in your village, how many goats do I owe you? He might say five goats. If she has a fifth-grade education, how many goats would I then have to pay you? And the answer would probably be 15 to 20 goats. A goat is usually $30 to $40 each.

And then we tell the mullah: If all the girls are educated, just think of how much more wealth you’d have. Then you can see his eyes get bigger.

At least Mortenson is up front about the Capitalist invasion for which he plays scout. Evidently the untapped region’s girls are for sale, and once educated they’ll have value-added for mercantilism.

American society tends to glorify education for its own sake. What “education” is CAI providing to the Muslims exactly? Do CAI’s texts teach that secular culture is intent on the eradication of spiritual culture? Is the CAI curriculum simply favoring western indoctrination over an Islamist counterpart? I’ll let Mortenson show his hand:

perhaps the most controversial, is our Islamic studies for about two or three hours every week. It’s very tempered, and we include in that learning the differences between Sunni and Shia. We’ve also added what you might call religion studies, or learning about different faiths or religion.

In a monotheistic society you need that like emperor penguins need tap dancing lessons. Imagine the uproar if we tried to teach New Life Church kids that the faith of their parents was only one extreme of many! A good idea no doubt, but unlikely to provoke a peaceful reaction.

POSTSCRIPT
Our junior high student came home yesterday with three promotional pieces about Three Cups of Tea in advance of Mortenson making an appearance at her school. Do you wonder how he’s getting such press? One of the pamphlets instructs the children about how they can “Help Three Cups of Tea (3CT) surge:” (My emphasis, their slip of the forked tongue)

1. Recommend 3CT to at least one person or place: family, friend, colleague, book club, professor and teacher, student, and places of worship. It also makes a great gift! (You’ve got to be kidding me! 3CT practically screams you’re illiterate.)

2. Visit 3CT website…

3. Recommend 3CT for ‘One Book – One Read’ at www.loc.gov/loc/cfbook/one-book.html (please don’t).

4. Recommend 3CT as a University or college-wide… read www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/articles/070607/7summer.htm (YGTBFKM)

5. Ask bookstores without 3CT to stock the book, especially airport bookstores. (?)

6. Send 3CT with a personal note to your Senators and/or Representatives (US legislators, why?)

7. Write a ‘letter editor’ [sic] to suggest 3CT and to support education and literacy… to promote peace, economic development and prosperity. (Emphasis mine. Co-opting Muslim girls for Capitalism promotes peace how?)

8. Ask magazines, newspapers, or radio station [sic] to review 3CT (they suggest sending a copy)

9. Learn about the power of girls’ education… in What Works in Girls Education (by Neocon think tank author Barbara Hertz)

10. Learn about grassroots book promotion…

11. Suggest 3CT to Oprah: www.oprah.com/email/reach/email_showideas.jhtml

12. Suggest 3CT to C-Span 202-737-0580.

13. Write a book review on Amazon.com, bn.com… (No need, it’s getting slammed! Too bad my Junior High principle isn’t getting a clue. Are our teachers illiterate too?)

14. Start Pennies For Peace in your school, library, or place of worship… www.penniesforpeace.org

Billions for war, but apparently we need only pennies for peace.

Hopefully 3CT’s proceeds are going toward peace. (Marie reports their financials say it’s “up to 7%,” so hey, they do mean single-cent figures!) Perhaps Mortenson can earmark some of the Coins for Cultural Sensitivity.

POST-POSTSCRIPT
The Amazon reviews are uproarious! But 3CT trolls are loading the funniest with bad marks where it asks Do you find this review helpful, so you’ll have to look fast. I’ll reprint a couple below.

By the way, Three Cups of Tea, One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… was originally released as Three Cups of Tea, One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations. It wasn’t selling the mission?

I’ll work up my own slipcover for Mortenson’s speaking engagement, with help from the comments below. Hopefully he’ll be good-natured enough to sign it:
Three Cups of Tedium: One Man’s Mission to be a Dhimmi
-A Condescending Westerner who attempt to “educate” Muslims.

(This is part 2 of 3 pieces: a review of the 3CT book, the promotion around the book tour, and Mortenson’s public appearance.)

Stealing Muslim women from terrorists

What is Greg Mortenson teaching the children of Pakistan?I’m afraid my Neo Liberal roots are showing. Greg Mortenson is delivering a lecture at CC on January 15th and I hardly know how to object. I too believe that the fate of mankind depends on education.

However, where have I the right to hold such a belief system, mine, above others? You can call Islam a religion for uneducated poor people, and be mostly right, as indeed the same applies to all fundamentalist absolutists. But that is only to regard education in the liberal sense, with its belief that a secular utopia awaits man’s bettering himself through progress. Technology, medical advances, and the celebration of the individual lead mankind where exactly? To a healthier, more antiseptic life certainly, civil discourse often, but to chaos and nihilism so far, quickly.

Fundamentalist Luddite religious systems may not take man to the moon, but they do ensure spiritually grounded lives, full families, and the same for all foreseeable descendants. Which model is likely the more sustainable? If we posit that the greater percentage of mankind need such intellectual tethers, to whom do you entrust their guidance? Allah or Coca Cola?

The West may think it offers salvation to the women of Islam, but is it true? Are the middle class advocates of women’s rights prepared to take in their rescuees? A Muslim wife’s life is at the mercy of Muslim males, and we’ve been treated to horrific accounts. How do they compare to what capitalism has to offer? Those liberated from the Koran can look forward to the certainty of exploitation by globalization bosses be they man or woman, regulated by amoral corporations and corrupt officials, now without the comfort of leading lives of spiritual purpose.

Isn’t the jury still out on the West’s liberated women? They’re having fewer children, that’s for certain.

White knights like Mr. Mortenson offer a gift horse that indeed cannot deliver. Meanwhile of course our soldiers and free trade carpetbaggers quietly pile on inside. Mortenson’s book Three Cups of Tea has been requisitioned by the Defense Department and issued to our counter-insurgency forces, probably to teach the Hearts and Minds lingo, hopefully not worse.

Mortenson’s visit to Colorado Springs is being sponsored by a new department of UCCS, the Center for Homeland Security, I kid you not! It’s a major now offered by UCCS, established with funding from the Pentagon, staffed with retired military instructors, and chaired by career CIA officer Steve Recca. Look him up, his name is tied completely to CIA activities. As they say in the intelligence biz, he’s totally “mobbed up.”

The tag line to Mortenson’s book tour is to use education outreach as an alternative means to combat terrorism. While it is a refreshing change-up to our direct war making against terrorism, I can’t imagine behaving cavalierly toward Islam is going to endear us greatly. Osama didn’t want US feet on the ground in Saudi Arabia. Do Muslims in general want westerners building schools for their girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Could stealing their young women be seen as anything but a provocation for a terrorist response?

I had a blue Christmas without you

Advent wreath
I felt more than a bit empty around Christmas this year. For the first time it seemed completely devoid of meaning. No one believes in God. No one believes in Santa. There’s nothing particularly thrilling to give or get. There’s just an obligation to pour money into the pockets of corporate pricks and fill our houses with crap none of us needs, or even really wants.

I remember Christmas as magical. But, as I reflect on my childhood, the magic of the holiday was closely tied to religious ritual. Coming into church on a Sunday soon after Thanksgiving, back when Christmas lights didn’t begin showing up by Halloween and could still be cause for celebration, we’d find the Advent wreath suspended from the rafters. Oh, yes! Christmas is coming! The three purple candles, a pink one for the third Sunday of Advent, a white candle for Christmas Eve. Each candle with its own story and symbolic meaning.

The beautiful haunting Christmas carols. O Come O Come, Emmanuel was my favorite. It still gives me goosebumps. The nativity display. The Christmas story with its shepherds and wise men and camels and bright stars and inns and stables and mangers and gold, frankincense and myrrh. Oh my! I just loved it all.

My poor darling children have none of this, thanks to me. I, like many of my generation, have largely rejected organized religion. Unfortunately, I now understand hypocrisy and oppression and believe that the church is guilty of all the sins it forbids. But what do we do about our spiritual longings? How do we find meaning and impart that meaning to our children who are daily bombarded with despicable messages from our commercialized world? For meaning surely does exist.

I am at a loss when it comes to recreating Christmas magic without a little baby Jesus to help me. And I can’t just pull him out of a box in the attic and blow the dust off of him so he can lay in his manger Christmas morning. My parents did this, and it was okay, because we knew all about him, every day of every year, so it didn’t smack of phoniness like it does when I try to bring him into the Christmas mix.

I have no answers. My children sense my sadness around Christmas, and they know it has something to do with religion. But it doesn’t really. It has to do with meaning, significance, all things lofty and sublime. It has to do with my remembered feelings of joy and sheer awe at the birth of the Savior. It’s the Christmas spirit that, without a miracle, my children will never know.

Benazir’s murder, a matter of when

Bhutto muralIt’s tragic that Benazir Bhutto was assassinated today. There is rampant speculation about who did it and why. But largely missing from the analyses I’ve read is the possibility that the nation of Pakistan, the Islamic nation of Pakistan, a nation that recently gave Osama bin Laden a 46% approval rating, simply didn’t want a high-born, Western-educated, secularist woman in a position of power in their country. A woman who has twice been removed from office on corruption charges and whose father was branded an enemy of Islam and executed in 1979.

McDonalds PakistanWe can pretend that it’s an oppressive regime we oppose and that the Pakistani people are longing for freedom and equality as we’ve defined it. In actuality, our quarrel is with the Pakistanis themselves, at least half of whom would institutionalize Islamic fundamentalism and call it freedom. Pakistanis who would love to be free of Western influence, be it cultural or political. Pakistanis who want to practice their religion and define their values without interference from outsiders.

The world does not want our electronics, nor our cars, nor much of anything we have to offer. Why do we insist that the world want our democracy? Clearly it doesn’t.

From Labour to Catholicism in time for Christmas and Santa

For those of us who are easily entertained by the Republican Party candidates’ pre-Christmas expressed opinions in favor of our Lord and Master, it is especially gratifying to know that these expressions of faith are not solely American. The Lord, too, has recently moved Tony Blair to reject godless Labour Party ideology in favor of Papism.

God bless Thee, Tony! You no longer will live in sin. December 23, 2007 Tony Blair finally becomes a Catholic

Jesus vs. Santa rivalry is nothing new

A holiday detente: As Easter sprung from fertility celebrations befitting the rebirth of spring, so Christmas originated from offerings of the season’s greetings to the winter solstice. And while Christians might have taken over the party, they’ve had to retain the yule tree and other pagan party favors to ensure converts would still RSVP to the festivities. The struggle between Jesus and Santa is nothing new.

The First War on Christmas happened in Oliver Cromwell’s England when Christmas idolatry came to be forbidden by law. Popular merriment was deemed to have strayed too far from the Protestant message of the church, the Lord’s Day etc, so Lord Protector Cromwell reined things in, for a time, until the reformer’s dominance over the parliament and the influence of the Puritans waned.

I heard this story on NPR, half of it actually. They described Christmas having been made illegal for a period, but curiously didn’t mention which period, and who in England had done it.

Puritans you say? Might these have been the same Puritans who came to America’s shore? The same. Well, they shared forefathers (Our forefathers, if our WASP history books can be believed, emphasizing as they do our “Christian Nation” while minimizing Jefferson and the other 90% of our settlers). Thus religious intolerance, on the part of the Puritans, drove the rest of England to send them packing, post paid, to take their anti-everybody else’s Christmas to New England, where it was thought there were no revelers to be bothered.

The Puritans fled religious intolerance to THEIR intolerance basically. What BS to assert that English merry folk did not accord them freedom of religion. England wanted freedom FROM the Puritan’s brand of religion. For some reason our historians seem content to leave open the suggestion that the Puritan party-pooper recount being expelled from the party because of his “wild and crazy” ways!

Just as in Old England, the American puritanical pin heads every so often revive to prominence, usually in reaction to economic or social catastrophe, to prescribe austerity across the board, from no drinking to unhappy holidays. In their current incarnation they’re Fundies aghast at what’s become of their Christmas. The “true meaning” having become too commercial, too secular, not enough infant Christ worship, etc.

We’ve got a nation of party-poopers, wanting to repo the universal Xmas holiday and its international message of brotherhood: Peace on Earth, Goodwill To All Mankind. Puritans aren’t about being good, they’re the fine folk who who accepted the turkey, then thanked the Lord, not the heathens. Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition!