Tag: Bible

Climate Change, the Media and Us

NPR is not exactly gung-ho on covering Climate Change but it presented a thoughtful (for NPR) segment on climate change and the fact that Americans are less likely to “believe” in climate change today than a few years ago despite the fact that scientists are more convinced of the reality of human caused climate change than ever; and b) most Americans believe, or claim to, in science and scientific findings. NPR also pointed out that the most significant trend in climate-change denying is in the GOP and its stalwarts; however, NPR did not, as I guessed it would not, go into why this is so because it would have put its own funding at risk.

So I will say why it is so and I’m not going to blame the politicians. First though I want to emphasize how important the issue is. This issue strikes at the heart of what it means to be a responsible human being and even at civilization itself. We are choosing to live a lifestyle that is clearly and unambiguously destructive to the environment and, in my view, destructive to human society and individual morality even more. By persisting in destructive behavior despite the clear facts–and even if there was some doubt that applying any normal risk-analysis system to the problem would come out, overwhelmingly, to taking action. It is, in short, pragmatic to act on the climate change issue. What I’m interested is why we don’t act on it and what that tells us about us.  

It’s Time to Give Up on Climate Change

As the mood of the Cancun Conference tells us there is no realistic hope that anything meaningful can happen to stop the effects of climate-change. The United States has, from the beginning of the process, dragged its feet on taking responsibility for doing anything, however minor, to stop the process of climate-change. There’s a lot of noise and rhetoric that has come out of the government and corporations in order to mount PR campaigns but it is without substance. Even clear win-win situations like providing funding for green-energy as a way to revive struggling American funding is underfunded and cruelly mishandled. I refer here to an article written by Monica Potts in the American Prospect that shows that government money to train workers for green jobs does not and will not translate into real jobs because there’s little support for the alternative-energy industry and the dominant fossil fuels industry who thrive on public subsidies for their cheaper energy don’t want competition. The government, as near as I can tell, has no intention of even attempting to support anything like the Kerry-Lieberman bill which would  have been a start in moving us towards strengthening the industry and slowly weaning us from the domination of fossil fuels. Of course the administration knows any environmental bill is DOA in today’s political atmosphere of gridlock.

Cross posted on Orange.

A Feminist Creation Story

Author’s Note:

This is a loving parody, not to be taken too seriously. I myself identify as Feminist, but I wanted to try my hand at satire. It is Friday, after all. Apologies are due to God, Moses, or whomever compiled the original text of Genesis.  

Burn This!



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Some crazy-ass Jews burn the New Testament (not something you hear much about in the Land of the Free) Some crazy-ass Christians burn the Koran (something you hear nothing but). But, hey, burning a Koran is much better than pooping and pissing on the Koran which U.S. Military personnel and private contractors have been doing for years with nary a word of criticism. We are, after all, at war with the Satanic religion called Islam.

And some crazy-ass Muslims burn bibles, flags and the faces of women who don’t toe the crazy-assed fundamentalist line.

Which just goes to show some folks worship some crazy-assed God.

But if I were to start a burning binge of an object of hate, you know what I’d burn?

The Constitution of the United States of America. That god-damned piece of paper.

Gleaning: Bringing in the Sheaves

With so many people still out of work and depending upon unemployment benefits, I thought I might briefly explore one particularly ancient safety net program.  Republicans believe that welfare in any form swells the deficit and creates a system of entitlement, but I disagree.  Pointing back to the Bible, as I so often do, I’d like to discuss the particulars and modern day application of a very ancient custom.  Those who are up in arms about the very thought of welfare might benefit from a different means of framing the issue.

A New Year’s Resolution for Activists

In this New Year, I resolve to learn the balance between that which I can positively effect and that which I cannot.  I make this resolution not in a desire to shirk my responsibility to my fellow person, but out of the understanding that life is too short to hold myself to a series of arbitrary, exacting rules that remove the joy of daily living.  This goes beyond the familiar language of the Serenity Prayer and has application to every activist cause of which I espouse.  Though we may be tough on the offenders, we are even tougher on ourselves, and that inevitably leads to burn out and soul-killing cynicism.  There is no sin in recharging our batteries periodically or at least recognizing that the greater problems which face us will remain no matter how many hours we devote to their eradication or how intensely we seek to amplify the volume to raise public awareness.          

For example, dietary laws were extremely important to the First Century Christians, and indeed in still so in many Jewish and Islamic circles (as well as some Christian ones).  Moreover, the idea of unity with God by eating a meal was an integral concept within Jewish, Christian, and Pagan traditions.  Those who had converted to Christianity from Paganism were uncomfortable consuming food that had been presented as a sacrifice to Pagan gods and asked for guidance.  To this, Paul replied,      

Someone may say, “I’m allowed to do anything,” but not everything is helpful. I’m allowed to do anything, here but not everything encourages growth.  People should be concerned about others and not just about themselves.  Eat anything that is sold in the market without letting your conscience trouble you.

I’m not talking about your conscience but the other person’s conscience. Why should my freedom be judged by someone else’s conscience?  If I can thank God for the food and enjoy it, why should I be condemned for eating it?

I understand the importance of social justice, particularly social justice through food purchase, which has driven a cottage industry.  Organic food, for example, was hippie food first, then became yuppie food.  Aside from the obvious, however, it is a curious quirk of humanity that we often cast aside one form of rote legalism for another form of it that closely agrees with our current sensibilities.  I know of Atheists who are themselves converts from conservative Christianity and in rightly pointing out the restrictive elements of their upbringing, they then adopt a philosophy of their that is no different in its basic construction.  We often focus on that which is intolerant, but living a life dictated too heavily by rules and restrictions doesn’t just eradicate freedom, it also removes the pleasure and fun of life.  I firmly believe that life is to be enjoyed.  Enough problems exist with our time here on earth than to be further dragged down and burdened by looking for problems.  Furthermore, if we focus on law, we adopt a neurotic posture that revolves around ourselves first and foremost.  If, however, we focus on unselfish love, then our concern shifts to other people.      

This isn’t true just for that which we take into our bodies.  Far too often the fear of climate change and global warming leads to its own a kind of legalism that assumes that through an well-intentioned obsession with minimizing our potential damage to the planet that we can somehow fulfill our obligations.  Global warming or some form of environmental decay has led some to rush to turn off lights, micromanage the settings of thermostats, and turn noses up at products likely produced by objectionable means.  This is, of course, not to say that aiming to be environmentally friendly and less conspicuously consumerist is not worth our time.  However, when our lives become Sisyphean to no good end, then we ought to concede that it is our own salvation through works that is predicated on personal conduct that leaves no room for error.  If I could teach any lesson to those of us who ascribe to an activist philosophy, that would be it.

In my own life, it is a big temptation to rush to judgment towards those I deem not conducting their own affairs in the manner in which I demand they should.  In particular, among online activist forums, a kind of extreme skepticism takes hold among participants.  It stems from a collective understanding of just how easy it is to pull the wool over the eyes of the ignorant and the ill-informed, and with it comes understandable feeling of despair that nothing one can possibly do will change that fact.  Still, if we adopt that stance, we are assuming that people are forever prisoners of their fate and that they can never change for the better.  Even though many may never revise their beliefs and may cling to that which we deem unenlightened and maddeningly stupid, we must never forget that there is always a chance that some may see the light.  Perhaps it is we who must modify our expectations and take a more realistic position regarding our poor power to add or detract to the tally.        

A year or so ago, I taught an online course of American History to technical college students.  My students were predominately working class, blue collar toilers who were seeking to further their education by means of attaining certification to achieve a specific higher paying vocation.  They were far from the typical college freshmen of which I had once been.  With my middle class education and background, I recognized quickly that it was highly unlikely that I would have ever befriended even one of my students, nor gravitated towards the same things as they in my own life.  At the beginning of the course, the views of many of my students were identical to those that Progressives often lament or caustically dismiss as hopelessly backwards or offensively naive.

Yet, after I was fortunate enough to really engage and reach my students, I noticed many of those old prejudices were being openly challenged and few were resisting this exercise in liberty and personal freedom.  I never sought to change anyone’s mind, but what I did note with much satisfaction is that until that instant, no one had ever bothered to expand and broaden their understanding beyond soundbytes and inexact, hackneyed rhetoric.  Once the complexities of human nature and historical reality became known to them, one could almost observe the metaphorical light bulb going off.  It was a thrilling thing to observe for me, the instructor, and after I took some degree of pride in my hard work, I recognized again how much class differences and economic disparities go into forming a concept of identity and system of belief.  Many of those who may have thus far taken a completely opposite political stance to mine never had the opportunities I had.  What I often find most frustrating among those who consider themselves worldly and intelligent are that they are usually the most stubbornly intractable regarding entertaining the notion that they could be wrong or that their own personal canon of wisdom might not be as airtight as they claim it is.  Those who, like my students, almost have a hero worship of the educated are much easier to enlighten and empower, though with that blank slate comes its own set of responsibility and ethical conduct.

Jesus spoke to those who felt as though they knew-it-all,

Then he said to them, “I can guarantee this truth: Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

This is not to imply that I am infantilizing my students in some kind of exercise of mock pious Paternalism, but rather to note how much easier it is to open the minds of those who have not kept theirs resolutely snapped shut.  We are never too smart, nor too old to learn or to be taught a lesson.  Elitism begins to creep in whenever we act or think otherwise.  Elitism is a enemy of Progressivism as sure as any of the well-documented offenders that never leave our radar screens.  Constructing hierarchies of influence locks out those who wish to belong and want a spot at the table.  Who cares if they don’t fit the profile up front!  So what if they can’t write a brilliantly crafted blog entry or propose some pithy statement in comments!  If we, myself included, were a bit more patient with each other and embraced the idea of a loving family rather than as an outlet for people who desperately want their own views to be validated in a public forum, then we might be making some serious progress.  No one doubts how desperately we seek and need a community and how many of us find it within activist political circles, but the shortcomings and the problems cry out for reform just as badly as any number of the worthy causes we demand be addressed.  

This then, is my greatest New Year’s Resolution,

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “ accutane causing my hands to rash Feed my lambs.”  

Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “ click here Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.  

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “ http://citiva.com/?search=buy-generic-viagra Feed my sheep.”  

Unselfish Solutions, Selfish Complications

I have recently been musing over a particular passage of scripture.  The frustration I and many have felt regarding the health care legislation that has stalled in the Congress has led me to wonder if perhaps a solution exists that has never been attempted prior to now.  The power of the blogosphere has provided me a sense of solace and inspiration that comes from rational explanation and insightful commentary, and I cannot overstate my confidence in the visionary souls among us.  It is a temptation to lament and understate our own capacity to bring about change, but quite another one to solicit answers from the passionate, knowing that through collective action, much good can be brought to pass.  It is in the spirit of facilitating dialogue that I write this post, my prayer being that it will find an audience and give rise to subsequent discussion.  

As a bit of needed exposition, St. Paul wrote an epistle to the church in Corinth, a city which had fallen into division and disorder.  The Corinthian church, mirroring the makeup of the city where it existed, had been fraught by immorality and spiritual immaturity.  In a letter whose endearing images and passages are still in wide use today, an age where strict devotion to organized religion is increasingly on the wane, our own skepticism cannot yet overtake the power and thrust of the text itself.  Shortly after outlining a beautiful definition of the concept of selfless love, Paul spends several subsequent chapter, talking about incorporating this degree of unconditional devotion into practice in one’s daily life.        

Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially the gift of speaking what God has revealed. When a person speaks in another language, he doesn’t speak to people but to God. No one understands him. His spirit is speaking mysteries.

But when a person speaks what God has revealed, he speaks to people to help them grow, to encourage them, and to comfort them. When a person speaks in another language, he helps himself grow. But when a person speaks what God has revealed, he helps the church grow.

Now I wish that all of you could speak in other languages, but especially that you could prophesy. go here The person who prophesies is more important than the person who speaks in another language, unless he interprets it so that the church may be built up.

Language is a construct of humanity.  To someone who does not speak a particular tongue, the sounds themselves appear mysterious, impenetrable, and indecipherable.  Moreover, there would be no point to a system of language at all if only one person spoke it.  Language, and indeed, the richness of language depends on the number of people who speak it and whether or not they share their own spiritual gifts with everyone else.  At times, we seem to believe that talking one-on-one with God or with our muse of inspiration is sufficient to undertaking the vast number of challenges which face each and every one of us.  Injustice is rarely ever consigned to one singular person, nor can one individual begin to turn the tide without help from others.      

Our earthly existence is a basically selfish, self-centered one.  What drives our economy and feeds our desire for riches is a sense of private ownership.  We would go so far as to copyright our own thoughts if we thought others might use them without permission or if there was money to be made in selling them to others.  I, me, and mine are the search engine keywords that drives capitalism, but they are utterly incompatible with one’s spiritual life.  Imagine if we all believed that our own innovations were to be used for the benefit of all, rather than for the benefit of a privileged few.  Indeed, if we spoke what God has revealed to us and translated it into the common vernacular rather than insisting it be phrased in a different language that locks out others from understanding, how many problems could be solved!      

Far too many people are covetous of what has been granted them by God and in so doing, they fail to understand that spiritual gifts are given to benefit all of us.  If one’s spiritual gift is that of forming a new language of a new social movement, how much richer would that language of reform be if everyone spoke the same tongue, not just the inner circle.  Ego has no part in the metaphorical church of which each of us is a part.  I have seen far too many movements and far too many groups established for altruistic means collapse under the weight of division caused by elitism or by covetousness.  If one is blessed by the gift of far-sighted analysis, don’t lock it away from sight!  Explain it to us, since which that which was granted you may have come from your brain, but it is God who gave you the ability to think it.

The members of the Corinthian church were using the gift of language for their own benefit, to make themselves feel better about themselves.  Clearly, the problem stemmed from the fact that there were too many foreign language speakers in the gathering and not enough translators.  This runs contrary to the health and growth of any established group.  Our greatest aim is to treat others in the same way we wish they would treat us and if we are granted talent in other areas, well and good.  But our talents are worthless if they merely lift us up and lock others out.  Humility isn’t merely a virtue we are to follow for its own sake for some sort of aesthetic rationale—it is a moral guidepost that points us towards a healthy society.  Lest we forget, it isn’t all about us.  It was never all about us.  It never will be all about us.    

In this circumstance, we have the answer.  We have always had the answer.  The answer, of course, is complicated by a day to day existence which runs contrary to that which we need for health and peace of mind.  Isolating ourselves from the madcap pace and twisted expectations of the world is no solution.  Any worthy challenge seems daunting at face value.  I have said this before and I will say it once more.  We must get our own selves and our own house in order before we can ever expect to reverse course. One cannot begin to love anyone else until he or she loves himself or herself.  By this I do not mean romantic love or narcissistic obsession, but rather a genuine point at which we make peace with our own failings, our own shortcomings, and our own flaws.  Until we do this, ego will drive us and with it a lust for individual achievement will follow close behind.  Those two things give rise to the inevitable hierarchies and unfair systems which are the antithesis of equality and social evolution.  The only requirement in life is love.  Everything else, as the saying goes, is just commentary.                

Blessed are the Pure in Interpretation

Recently, it has become known that a group of conservative Bible scholars are attempting to re-translate the Bible to fit a decidedly conservative spin.   Calling themselves the Conservative Bible Project, the Wikipedia-inspired platform removes troublesome things like facts and original intent, instead softening the language of that original radical liberal Comrade Jesus.   The problem among many, of course, is that the original Bible as rendered has no allegiance to Twenty-first century ideology, since it was written centuries before.   The strength of the document is in its relative impartiality, at least as regards contemporary culture conflict.   Much about this project troubles me, but my own red flags arise whenever revisionism without just cause and with a stated agenda are justified by excuse and rationalization.   Apparently unable to stick to its own interpretation within the existent passages, this group must create its own scripture in the process, else those evil liberals continue their nefarious brainwashing.

If this were merely some over-reaching effort to put an ideological spin on Jesus and his words, that would be bad enough, but the project contains an element of prudishness to it as well.   In researching for this piece, I came across a helpful column in America Magazine, written by John W. Martens.

There are numerous other issues on which one could raise substantial concerns. The CBP editors are unwilling to grant that Jesus is talking about wine, you know, the stuff with alcohol, in Mark 2: 22, and instead suggest “fresh grape juice” for oinos. It is hard to know how this ancient Welch’s will “burst the wineskins,” thereby destroying the point of the parable, and even harder to know why there were prohibitions on drunkenness amongst early Christians if they were only drinking grape juice.

The project has chosen to address The Old Testament as well.  I’d be curious to know how they’re going to get around Noah’s unfortunate David Hasselhoff-like bout of intoxication.  Genesis 9 provides the story.

Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard.  When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.  Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside.  But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father’s nakedness.  When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.”  He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem.

As I interpret it, I take the passage to mean that even the Godliest of the Godly have gaping flaws and make poor decisions at times, but it speaks far worse to those who seek to cover up these matters as a means of suiting their own purposes.   The Canaanites mentioned in the passage were a Semetic peoples conquered by the Israelites and largely assimilated into their numbers.   Conventional interpretation labels the sons and daughters of Canaan a wicked and evil people who were justifiably driven out of the Promised Land to make way for the Hebrews, as they were squatting on land not belonging to them.   Rather than joining forces and entering the promised territory hard won by conflict, they were conquered by force.

Scholars have never completely come to a consensus agreement as to what the curse of Ham really entails, but in any case, the latter verses of the above passage have been variously used over time to justify racism and enslavement of Black Africans.  It would be interesting to see how the Conservative Bible Project can reconcile this particularly troublesome situation, since words alone cannot defeat context and intent.   So much of biblical understanding relies heavily on back story and correct framing, but taking words literally in isolation from the larger picture is where intolerance and rigidity of understanding find their nexus.          

Ham is not directly cursed for his actions; instead the curse falls upon his youngest son Canaan. The curse seems unusually severe for merely observing Noah unclothed. An explanation sometimes offered notes that the phrase “exposing or uncovering nakedness” is used several times elsewhere in the Pentateuch as a euphemism for having sexual relations. See Leviticus 18:6-19 in which this phrase is mentioned in connection with a variety of women in the family–one’s mother, stepmother, sister, half sister, granddaughter, aunt, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law– as well as in certain relationships (during her menstrual period, sleeping with a mother and daughter, etc.)

Rashi, the main commentator on Torah, explains the harshness of the curse: “Some say Cham saw his father naked and either sodomized or castrated him. His thought was “Perhaps my father’s drunkenness will lead to intercourse with our mother and I will have to share the inheritance of the world with another brother! I will prevent this by taking his manhood from him! When Noah awoke, and he realized what Cham had done, he said, “Because you prevented me from having a fourth son, your fourth son, Canaan, shall forever be a slave to his brothers, who showed respect to me!”

Greed combined with personal gain compels others to violence and brutality.   Lessons like these are why the Scriptures never truly date, though I can almost certainly guarantee that the Conservative Bible Project’s bastardization endeavor will need to go through several revisions.  Political winds change at will, but human nature never does.   Still, nothing sets conservative tongue a-waggling quicker than the fear of socialism.    

What is most troubling, however, for the editors of the CBP is the socialism that is rife in modern translations. For instance, “volunteer” is a conservative word, and appears rarely in translations, while words such as “laborer” and “fellow-worker” appear numerous times. Apparently, “work” and labor” reflect socialism, which strikes me as a place that conservatives might not want to go. Are they truly opposed to work?

They themselves?   Yes.   Their loyal voting bloc of the easily deceived and educationally impoverished?  No.   Why unite when you can divide and conquer?

Martens concludes, quite devastatingly,

Best of all, though, is the new translation of Mark 3:27, where “the strong man” of the KJV (also in NRSV and NIV) becomes the “well-armed man” of the CBP. I can just see the “well-armed man” now, ancient rifle in hand, defending his turf, against wine, socialism, and co-workers. There is a little problem here for the CBP: in Jesus’ parable, the “strong man” is Satan. Hmmm…labor on my fellow-workers, labor on, we will disarm him yet.

The verse in Mark that Martens cites is prefaced by this one.

And if Satan is divided and fights against himself, how can he stand? He would never survive.

I used the larger parable from which these verses come in a column I wrote a week ago, where I set out a familiar turn of phrase widely attributed to Abraham Lincoln.  The verse prior to that one reads,

If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.  

Some translations render the passage,

Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart.

The Bible doesn’t promise us what we want to hear.  At times its wisdom is as sharp and cutting as it is inspiring and guiding, but wisdom as I understand it is not meant to be a pep talk.   The idolatry of the Conservative Bible Project is no less damning than that of the Golden Calf or the pursuit of profit.   Faith is not something that we can transform into our own image, lest it guide us towards places that make us uncomfortable or challenge our assumptions.   Faith is not tunnel vision, either, which is something many Evangelical conservative groups and loyal conservatives are quick to adopt, since it promises nothing messy, incomplete, or inexact.   Yet, conceding as so many do that faith guidance is outdated or would force us to adopt some singular uniform focus that would come at the expense of our independence is not a correct assumption, either.  

Jesus concludes,

Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger–someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.

Are Wingnut christian? Fundies Getting Religion, Finally??

Just caught this little interesting tidbit.

source Bob Jones U. Apologizes For Racism

Could guilty consciouses and understanding of ‘S*I*N!’ finally be breaking into the christian? rights understanding of the true meaning of the book and teachings they say they follow?

Could they have finally realized the ‘Liberal’ leanings within?  

Is This The Dole God??

On a visit over to cheap cialis jelly from canadian drugstore VetVoice in an open thread there was a reply here with this link that you should visit, which had this photo:


We are going to intercede at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the ‘Lion’s Market,’ or God’s control over the economic systems. While we do not have the full revelation of all this will entail, we do know that without intercession, economies will crumble.

Sparking Real Religious Dialog?

This ought to really raise the ire of condemnation within the Fundamentalist Christian Community,

especially as practiced in the U.S..

discount drug free propecia Dialog already started

at site of this report, accutane causing pupils to change Story of Jesus Through Iranian Eyes

New Movie By Iranian Filmmaker Tells Story of Christianity From Muslim Perspective

You can also view their video report here.

Now Accepting Psalms, Books, Sermons, etc.

Religion, anyone can do it.  Even us. 

My esteemed felines and canine will form the judging body of the New Liberal Vatican located in my living room.  All submissions will be printed up on recyclable paper and strewn lovingly about the floor. Any submission endorsed by the pets will be included in the final work.  If you see a puff of smoke rising from my chimney, please call the fire department because I don’t have a chimney.

The New Liberal Vatican does not seek to replace the old tired Vatican just yet.  Instead we will seek tax-free goodness for all members and a nifty water bottle with a logo of some sort.

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