June 30, 2005

Another interesting day

I had one of those days again. But better. While reading a Michael Malone novel (Handling Sin, if anyone is interested), I felt great sorrow. Grief, really. SOF has mentioned that sometimes grief can be hiding in anger. I wonder if that hasn't been my reality lately. Feels like a lot of loss in the last year. Reading this book, it just came out. Tears. Grief. Sorrow. That was good. The book is interesting. Almost comic and completely unrealistic, but the characters were recognizable. I liked them. I liked their struggles and their grief. I guess that is what art does for us.

I then went to my mando lesson where I spent 30 minutes learning two new tunes. My teacher is a fun guy, and we sit and talk about different music and guitars and mandolins. I almost alwasys leave there with a bit of rejuvination. And some new tunes.

I finished off the night with this:

I made a batch of beer. I like doing this even though the hot weather makes it harder. Making beer requires optimism and patience--sentiments I have lacked recently. In a few weeks, we will find out if my hard work was worth it. For those who are wondering, it is an India Pale Ale, which is my favorite style. Bitter, bitter and more bitter. Colonialism's great creation. :)

June 29, 2005

Our media isn't helping

This is preaching to the choir, but our media sucks. And our people suck. Sorry, but it is true. I didn't blog about this last week, but when the Michael Jackson verdict came in, I am ashamed to say I paid attention. Barely. I was hoping for a conviction if I am honest. (Though I heard our local "Just My Two Cents" Kelly Ogle say that the verdict sent a bad message about middle aged men sleeping in the same bed with young boys. Right, Kelly. Our judicial system is about sending messages. Everytime I hear his two cents piece, I think I need change back.)

But the entire coverage was horrible. I couldn't care less. I felt bad for the kids involved, but when you see the people lining the street with the "Michael" signs, you feel a little queasy. When you see a recent picture of the pop star, that becomes full-fledged nausea.

DesMoinesRegister.com: "I knew the exact time Terri Schiavo collapsed 15 years ago, and I could tell you that the runaway bride got a half-million-dollar advance to tell her story.But I had lost track of how many U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq."

But the media eats this shit up. Just watch Faux news for a while. Or any of them. They have all lost any sense of their public service or the use of public air waves. It is all about making money. It isn't really about news. Doesn't it strike any of my conservative readers a little odd that the same company (Fox) that serves up Cal Thomas and Sean Hannity's self-righteous dribble is the same company that reaches as low as it can with every new reality show?

Ok, I am tired and a little annoyed. I am sticking to the Daily Show, NPR, and my blogs.

Summer doldrums

This blog should have a warning attached--Occasional self-indulgent posts frequent! I have a brooding personality. At least that is what my former advisor told me. I don't think he meant that as a compliment. :)

Turning 40 hasn't really helped with that. And this is a transition time for me. I have purposefully decided to spend a little time reading light, playing games, avoiding work. I need to be ready to hit it hard when I go back.

Today I heard from an old grad school buddy. He is up for tenure next year. Tenure. Damn. I don't know if that will ever happen. He and his wife are expecting a child. I know that won't happen. That isn't a bad thing for me, but it is what it is. I am glad for him. On both counts. But sometimes I measure myself against the expected. Selectively, that is.

When I step back, I am blessed and happy. I am happy with who I am, and who I am with. Last Saturday, SOF and I celebrated 17 years together. 17 years is a long time. And I don't regret that at all. I am proud of our relationship and, frankly, proud of who I am now. I know that living with SOF has made me a better person. I only hope I have done the same for her.

But sometimes the demons come out to taunt. Taunt about jobs, kids, and relationships that have gone astray. I have to tell them to shut up. I have to step outside and look at the world with a different measuring stick.

Hell, we all do.

June 25, 2005

Is this a Christian view history?

Conservatives seem to love Paul Harvey. I remember him from my childhood. As an adult historian, he has alwasy bugged me. Here is a great reason.

"Once upon a time, we elbowed our way onto and into this continent by giving small pox infected blankets to native Americans.

Yes, that was biological warfare!

And we used every other weapon we could get our hands on to grab this land from whomever. And we grew prosperous.

And, yes, we greased the skids with the sweat of slaves."

See, infecting Indians with a deadly disease was justified. So was slavery. We had to be prosperous.

BTw, the thrust of his little column is that we have become too weak and pansy like in our current war. In WWII we had the balls to drop the big one on Japan. Now, we hold our best weapons in our holster against terrorism.

What an ass. This is a perfect example of someone who hasn't learned shit from the past, and quite possibly has no real understanding of Christianity.

June 24, 2005


It strikes me that the two most misunderstood words in the English language are "myth" and "theory."

Any thoughts?

Odd, isn't it?

With all the religious rhetoric in our political dialogue we seem to have lost ideas like compassion and empathy. I have often wondered if a key thing for children to learn (if there is one) would be to learn to imagine what it might be like to live in another's shoes. If you can have compassion for someone who is different than you--hard to rob them, kill them, execute them, bomb their country.

I found this at Bruce's blog.

"Let's consider our political moment through a story. Suppose a chauffeur drives a sleek limousine through the streets of New York, a millionaire in the back seat. Through the window, the millionaire spots a homeless woman and her two children huddling in the cold, sharing a loaf of bread. He orders the chauffeur to stop the car. The chauffeur opens the passenger door for the millionaire, who walks over to the mother and snatches the loaf. He slips back into the car and they drive on, leaving behind an even poorer family and a baffled crowd of sidewalk witnesses. For his part, the chauffeur feels real qualms about what his master has done, because unlike his employer, he has recently known hard times himself. But he drives on nonetheless. Let's call this the Chauffeur's Dilemma."

Read the entire thing. It is worth it.

Sanity--at last

This is worth reading. Sanity and finally some criticism of the Rod Parsely/James Dobson crap.

Worship as Higher Politics
Political priorities for citizens of the kingdom.
A Christianity Today editorial | posted 06/23/2005 09:00 a.m.

George W. Bush is not Lord. The Declaration of Independence is not an infallible guide to Christian faith and practice. Nor is the U.S. Constitution, nor the U.N. Universal Declaration on Human Rights. "Original intent" of America's founders is not the hermeneutical key that will guarantee national righteousness. The American flag is not the Cross. The Pledge of Allegiance is not the Creed. "God Bless America" is not the Doxology.

Sometimes one needs to state the obvious—especially at times when it's less and less obvious.

Say What?
Understandably, megachurch pastor Rod Parsley (World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio) has had enough of America's moral confusion. But in his newly published Silent No More: Bringing Moral Clarity to America … While Freedom Still Rings (Charisma House, 2005), he writes (not so understandably), "I can be silent no more. Not until the land of our fathers' dream arises. Not until we become the truly kind and noble society we were fashioned to be. Not until the commitment of our fathers truly does become the calling of our times."

And here we thought the Ten Commandments and Sermon on the Mount held the key to a "truly kind and noble society."

Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, spoke recently about the serious problem of judges legislating from the bench. He also said: "We want to return to a nation governed by law, rather than a nation governed by judges. This is a major issue to us. We know for evangelical Christians to function, we need the rule of law."

The remark implies unintentionally that the church needs humble judges who submit to "original intent" if it is to function. Tell that to the church in Africa and Latin America, where corrupt judges and wild dictators reign, and where church growth approaches the miraculous.

Family Research Council (FRC) Action is a lobbying arm of FRC, and as such it is not explicitly religious in its public presentation. But it is known far and wide as an outpost of the Christian Right. So it can only reap confusion when it posts this endorsement from former U.S. Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire: "Just beneath our superficial prosperity is a moral and cultural center that is in serious disrepair. We have the tools to fix it: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution … and a people whose hearts, courage, and dedication have never been questioned."

As important as the Declaration and Constitution are to the political health of our nation, surely nobody at FRC Action believes that these documents are the key to fixing the "serious disrepair" at our nation's "moral center."

And for some time now, we've been hearing from David Barton, Peter Marshall, and James Kennedy, among others, about "renewing the vision of our founding fathers, as expressed in America's founding documents," and the need "to defend and implement the biblical principles on which our country was founded."

The not-so-subtle equation of America's founding with biblical Christianity has been shown time and again to be historically inaccurate. The founding was a unique combination of biblical teaching and Enlightenment rationalism, and most of the founding fathers, as historian Edwin Gaustad, among many others, has noted, were not orthodox Christians, but instead were primarily products of the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment, we should recall, has never been much of a friend of biblical Christianity.

Political Priorities
In the heat of partisan politics (out of which many of these overstatements and misunderstandings arise), we are tempted to forget that the most potent political act—the one act that deeply manifests and really empowers a "kind and noble society"—is the worship of Jesus Christ.

In worship we signal who is the Sovereign, not of just this nation, but of heaven and Earth. In worship we gather to be formed into an alternate polis, the people of God. It is here that we proclaim that a new political order—the kingdom of heaven—has been preached and incarnated by the King of Kings, and will someday come in fullness, a fullness to which all kingdoms and republics will submit:

"I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. … The city does not need the sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the Earth will bring their splendor into it" (Rev. 21:2, 23-24).

Nearly a quarter of a century ago, just as the Religious Right was blossoming, Richard John Neuhaus put it this way: "Jesus Christ is Lord. That is the first and final assertion Christians make about all of reality, including politics. Believers now assert by faith what one day will be manifest to the sight of all: Every earthly sovereignty is subordinate to the sovereignty of Jesus Christ. The church is the bearer of that claim."

Theologian Stanley Hauerwas, no political ally of Neuhaus, extended the point in a recent interview: "Christians' first political responsibility is to be the church, and by being the church they should understand that their first political loyalty is to God, and the God we worship as Christians, in a manner that understands that we are not first and foremost about making democracy work, but about the truthful worship of the true God."

Let us be clear: The Christian citizen of every nation has a moral obligation to engage at some level in that nation's political life. We do not recommend withdrawal from the political arena. We admire especially those whose calling falls in this area—mayors, councilmen, senators, representatives, presidents. Theirs is as noble a calling as that of a plumber or pastor.

But Christians who enter that calling, and those who pray for and work with them, must not forget one thing: where hope for this nation, and the world, really lies, and where that hope is most manifest Sunday by Sunday.

Copyright © 2005 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
July 2005, Vol. 49, No. 7, Page 16

June 23, 2005

Greg on Amusement Churches

the parish: Wherefore Art Thou, Irony?: "That's correct. Not only do they charge admission to baptism, the initiates are free to play on the rides as soon as their baptism is done, maybe even before. I can't think of a more appropriate symbol of this particular church's commitment to the kingdom of God than an amusement park. I've been working on a new thesis this year: I'm convinced that conservatives of the political and religious stripe are immune to irony. This is one more bit of evidence in favor of my thesis."

June 22, 2005

I need to stop watching Jon Stewart

Ashley Smith, who became famous for talking to her kidnapper about Rick Warren, is now writing a book. The comments on celebrity aside, her self-justification really bothers me.

Courthouse shooting hero signs book deal | ajc.com: "Over the last two months, I have given a lot of thought about whether or not to tell my story,' Smith said in a statement. 'I'm uncomfortable becoming the focus of this event, which left so many families in tragedy. But after prayerful consideration, I believe that God is calling me to use this opportunity to not only turn my own life around but also to inspire others to do that, too.'"

See how that works? She feels uncomfortable about cashing in on this, but low and behold, God speaks out and tells her to get more money. This reminds me of how convenient it was when the Mormon church heard from God that they should outlaw plural marriages, or later allow blacks into the priesthood. How convenient for them all.

Ashley, you may be a good person. But please don't blame God for your greed.

This is where our Christian nation crap gets us: AmeriChristianity

One of the scary things happening on conservative America is the continual reference to Christian Nation-hood--what Bruce Prescott refers to as Religious Supremacists. The language persists and permeates, creating the atmosphere where anything critical of conservatives is considered critical of Christianity. Consider this:

Jewish and Israel News from New York - The Jewish Week: "In the heated debate over the amendment Hostettler said, "The long war on Christianity in America continues today on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. It continues unabated with aid and comfort to those who would eradicate any vestige of our Christian heritage being supplied by the usual suspects, the Democrats."

He also said, "Like moths to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians."

See, Democrats, even those of us who are Christian are anti-Christian. Only those who wear the flag on their chest and thump their bible are true AmeriChristians.


A Democratic Capitol Hill staffer said, “There is more overt talk about various ‘Christian nation’ ideas than I’ve ever heard before, and a much greater willingness to castigate opponents of the religious conservatives’ agenda as anti-Christian. Frankly, I think a lot of Democrats are intimidated into not speaking out as forcefully as they’d like.”

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said the debate “is symptomatic of the polarization in this country, not only between Democrats and Republicans, but on the major issues.”

“For a congressman to say an effort to defend the American ideal for respect and tolerance for all religions is a war on Christianity is outrageous,” Foxman said. “It goes far beyond the norms of political disagreement.”

I really resent this. I resent being told that unless I agree with a tool like Hostettler or James Dobson, or even our President--that I am not either a good Christian or a good American. I resent it very much. And unfortunately, I am not optimistic. AmeriChristians are reading David Barton and happy with it. They are not going to read good history and are content to just conclude "hey, God likes us better and chose us. Oh, I know, we sinned along the way and killed a bunch of Indians, enslaved a bunch of Blacks, and put children in mines, but hey, God is still on our side!"

I am really starting to hate the word "heritage." Confederate Heritage, Christian Heritage--it all sucks.

Please, someone tell me this pendulum will swing back?

Save our flag

Evidently, my own rant was too weak. I didn't realize that this time the idiots in congress could actually pass a fucking flag amendment. Can anyone imagine this going to the states? Local politics suck worse than national.

But again, how stupid is this? Come on help me out. What are we saying about freedom when we pass laws to curtail it about a symbol? Can we burn copies of the constitution? What about the holy Declaration? What about state constitutions or state flags? What about the Christian Flag (abomination that it is)? What is going on here?

I am too annoyed to think clearly. What is this like? What is the analogy here? Killing people to prove that killing people is wrong? What about beating kids to prove that beating kids is wrong? No, that is the same damn thing. More like forcing people to worship God freely. Or banning discussion on free speech?

This is about the stupidest thing I can imagine our politicians addressing. No word yet on healthcare, but by God we can pass the most moronic legislation in a free society. Question: will this also include people who deface the flag by wrapping themselves in it? What about flag bathing suits? Flag ties? Flag Jesus Fish? Flag bumper stickers? What about those stupid fucking morons who drive around with tattered and dirty little flags on their cars--cars emblazoned with a faded bumper sticker that says "these colors don't run."

So, grownups, where are you? Where are the people who recognize that free speech means something in this country because it is extended to people we find stupid and moronic (yes, I am thinking of James Dobson right now)? Where are the people who understand that freedom is more than political rhetoric? Where are the people who will recognize that just because something like this is popular, doesn't mean it is a good thing? Where are the people who understand that our flag is stirring and beautiful, but it isn't an idol. It isn't really who we are. Our freedoms and our laws are who we are. Goddamnit.

I will say this one more time and welcome comments. There is no defense of this amendment. None. Zip.

Christian Patriots

Had lunch with Anglican today. On the way back, heard this on the radio (Christian, of course):

Jeremy Reynalds: MAGAZINE FOUNDER PUTS EVERYTHING ON THE LINE TO OBEY GOD: "Ewing said, "God birthed not only the name of a magazine, but the mission for our ministry: To equip and empower citizens with knowledge about the important cultural issues of our day in light of our nation's Christian heritage, and also, to provide a call to action for all Christian patriots to restore our nation's Christian foundation."

On the radio he said that reading the Bible had taught him that God not only dealt with humans, but nations as well. Is that compatible with the NT? It certainly reflects the "God's Chosen People" viewpoint, but is hard to justify with the NT, in my opinion.

He also said that reading American history (I chuckled here) had taught him that God had intervened at several points in our history because God had a specific purpose for creating the US:

As Ewing studied American history from original source documents, he discovered something important.

“I realized God has a divine purpose for the United States of America. The Founding Fathers acknowledged this and established our form of government and laws accordingly,” Ewing said. “However, recent generations have turned their backs on the God of the Bible-whom the Founders recognized as the source of all law and the giver of our freedom and prosperity-and our nation's historical record. Recent generations are instead using God's blessings upon America for selfish and licentious ends.”

Really? Original documents, you say? Primary sources reveal God's hand? Just how would those work? How would those documents reveal God's divine purpose? Oral interviews with the creator himself? Maybe some divine documents? I would love to hear the methodology on that.

This isn't history. It is national idolatry.

My wednesday Political rant

Just scanning through the news this morning, I see that theHouse will Vote on a Flag Burning Amendment. Everytime I see this, I wince a little at the people who just don't get it. Our country has always been supposedly about freedom. Many people understand freedom the way they understand love and compassion. They extend it to people they like and care about and agree with. You know, the easy stuff. Freedom, like those other things, is only real if it is extended to the people you don't like; don't agree with; and don't care about. If you can't extend freedom to people to not like America--or in fact, to directly disrespect America--then you don't get what America is supposed to represent.


Update: Related to the above point, SOF and I saw a Christian fish symbol the other day that used the flag as a backdrop. Incredibly offensive, and I wonder if the people who push for the Flag amendment would recognize that as defacing?


In other news, I am amazed that the Dems have been able to foil (so far) the John Bolton nomination. By the accounts I read, the man is a menace--threatening people who disagree with him, and manufacturing intelligence to meet his agenda. You know, just like GWB! And speaking of the Prez, he has refused to back down from the Bolton pick--even though many in his own party don't like the guy. On one hand, I really wonder what the Dems are doing using political capital on this guy. Is the UN Ambassador really the place to fight this battle? With upcoming SCOTUS fight?

But on the other hand, Bush's stubbornness really irks me. I know his followers think it is principled, but I just see someone who refuses to acknowledge mistakes. He reminds me more and more of the Richard Mulligan version of Custer in Little Big Man. (If you haven't seen it, then you haven't seen one of the funnier movies about the American West). Mulligan's Custer refuses to acknowledge mistakes. When he meets Dustin Hoffman's character, he decides that the man is a mule skinner, and brags to his officers how he came to that conclusion. Mule skinning is one of the few things Jack Crabb never does, but that never shakes Custer's belief that he is a mule skinner. A running theme is Custer's decision making, and whether he should ever consider the "reversal of a Custer decision."

Bush may have seen this movie in his drug and alcohol years and thought Custer was the hero.

June 20, 2005

Slavery: A request

Dave, in the comments, requested a posting on slavery. This is a bit of an inside joke, since he and I have crossed paths at Jesus Politics. I was against slavery, and relatively sure that God was too. Dave took a different tack. One that includes Confederate "heritage." Instead of linking to his blog, let me instead send you here.

So here goes. I remain against slavery. One of my biggest disappointments with my faith is the number of people calling themselves Christians who needed an explicit scripture verse to tell them that treating people of color differently was wrong. Same applies now. Do you really need a verse to tell you that women are equal--that destroying nature is bad--that dropping bombs on children is wrong?

To be clear, my beef is with humans. I don't assume that God just somehow meant to imply that slavery was ok. I don't blame God, I blame the humans who wrote the Bible--as well-intentioned as they might be. If God had written the Bible directly, it seems to me that noting that slavery was wrong would have been easy. Sure, there are verses about gay men, but nothing saying that buying and selling human beings was wrong? Again, that just suggests to me that flawed humans wrote these down--not God. This is not a rejection of the Bible, just a clarification. Take it for what you will.

But no. Dave and his crowd have been clinging to the "God didn't ban Slavery we were just fighting for state's rights" mantra for too long. Never mind that slavery was a huge part of the Civil War. Southerners read the writing on the wall when new territory in the West was closed to slavery. Filibuster efforts (not that kind) to extend slave territory had failed. The threat of a national ban of slavery was possible.

There are lots of cute justifications for the Confederacy. Some are legit--at least those about legal options for getting out of the union. But the underlying truth of the Civil War is that if you take slavery off the table, the war doesn't happen. Southerners don't take up arms against the North over Internal Improvements or tariffs. They just don't.

The post war period is an interesting one. Caleb had a great post on this subject for Memorial Day. Americans of both sides jumped to overcome the rancor of the war--and in so doing so had to find a way to excuse the South. Instead of slavery, honor and chivalry triumphed. The post war period sees a rush of romantic literature that paints southern slaves as subservient and grateful. Southern gentlemen are honorable. Absent is the raping of slave women, or the killing of slave men, or the destruction of slave families. Or the basic enslaving of other human beings.

So, here is the post. Take it for what you will. One more link, and this one is not for those who take offense at the f-word.

The Bootleg Blogger: De La Torre Does It Again

The Bootleg Blogger: De La Torre Does It Again

June 19, 2005

Class Warfare, indeed.

Thanks to Great White Bear. Read this transcript.

THE GREAT WHITE BEAR: WARREN BUFFETT, LOU DOBBS: It's class warfare, the wealthy are winning. They shouldn't be.: "BUFFETT: I personally would increase the taxable base above the present $90,000. I pay very little in the way of Social Security taxes because I make a lot more than $90,000. And the people in my office pay the full tax. We're already edging up the retirement age a bit. And I would means test ... I get a check for $1,700 or $1,900 or something every month. I'm 74. And I cash it. But I'll eat without it."

June 18, 2005

Gymnastics, hah!

Saw my high school buddy today. We only had a few moments, but it was nice to see him and his family. His oldest son is participating in gymnastics--something that brought back some old memories. (cue the wayback music)

You see, I was a gymnast in high school for a couple of years. Vaulter. Yeah, that's right. I raced down the little track and hurled my body over the vault. It was fun. And I was ok at it. My senior year I qualified for the very last spot for state, but my best possible score wouldn't have gotten me to the finals.

But I digress. I often chuckle about how people perceive gymnasts and gymnastic teams. In many cases, they are the rich kids and well to-do. Some think male gymnasts are often gay (not that there is anything wrong with that) and A students. The bad boys are on the football team or someother sport.

My gymnastics team was not anything like this. Not even close. Several of my team-mates were those kids out at the curb smoking cigarettes. Most of them hovered on the edge of ineligibility. On the way to district tournament my junior year, several of my teammates were smoking grass in the back of the bus. Back. Of. The. Bus. I sat at the front of the bus horrified that we were all going to jail.

On the way back from State (Senior year) several of my team mates were drinking. They had filled their cooler inserts with some kind of booze.

So, when you think of gymnastics teams, add this image to your list.

Grownup Christian, Grownup Republican

Lord knows I am tough on the conservative Christians, but with good reason. When people who claim ownership of the faith look the other way for a Tom Delay or ignore John Ashcroft's racist leanings, or make excuses for Bush--well, I think they need to reassess. You cannot, with good conscience, pillory Clinton for his sins and absolve Bush for his.

But I digress. Thanks to Carlos, I find this editorial from former Senator Danforth--who I never really liked when he was in office. Now I miss him. He seems far more moderate than anything the GOP can offer now. Like Alan Simpson, (who thinks that the religious right are all nuts) he represents a dying breed of conservative moderate. Anyway, he has some things to say.

"People of faith have the right, and perhaps the obligation, to bring their values to bear in politics. Many conservative Christians approach politics with a certainty that they know God's truth, and that they can advance the kingdom of God through governmental action. So they have developed a political agenda that they believe advances God's kingdom, one that includes efforts to 'put God back' into the public square and to pass a constitutional amendment intended to protect marriage from the perceived threat of homosexuality.

Moderate Christians are less certain about when and how our beliefs can be translated into statutory form, not because of a lack of faith in God but because of a healthy acknowledgement of the limitations of human beings. Like conservative Christians, we attend church, read the Bible and say our prayers.

A good articulation, I think, of the differences.

But for us, the only absolute standard of behavior is the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. Repeatedly in the Gospels, we find that the Love Commandment takes precedence when it conflicts with laws. We struggle to follow that commandment as we face the realities of everyday living, and we do not agree that our responsibility to live as Christians can be codified by legislators.

Yeah, this seems lost in the conservative mantra. Loving our neighbors as ourselves is important. for all of us. But the conservatives want the harshness of the OT emphasized rather than the words of Christ. He also mentions a lost virtue--humility--that we are hard pressed to find from the Dobsons, Mohlers, Robertsons, or Delays.

And here, he has some strong words for the impact the Religious Right has had on our political landscape:

In the decade since I left the Senate, American politics has been characterized by two phenomena: the increased activism of the Christian right, especially in the Republican Party, and the collapse of bipartisan collegiality. I do not think it is a stretch to suggest a relationship between the two. To assert that I am on God's side and you are not, that I know God's will and you do not, and that I will use the power of government to advance my understanding of God's kingdom is certain to produce hostility.

June 16, 2005

More anniversary notes

My folk's anniversary proved very enjoyable. Family get-togethers are always a bit interesting, and this one was that, but I for one enjoyed myself. The folks had a good time, and I am glad for that.

A few random thoughts:


Great memory of my cousin (who I had not seen for 30 years) playing a song he wrote years ago on a borrowed guitar. (He did so without the ring finger on his left hand. He lost it on his ranch when his wedding ring caught on something. Yikes.) But his song was great and it was a neat moment.


Westerners talk about "moisture" and rainfall all the time. Yeah, Oklahomans do it too, but in Colorado it is part of the opening exchange. It had been a while for me, so it caught me a bit off-guard, but everyone was able to tell me what their average rainfall numbers were and where this year falls. (Yeah, I know, my own research is on water in the West, so I know about this, but I was still a bit surprised).


As I write this blog entry, we are watching a huge wind "event" coursing through Oklahoma. No tornadoes, but wind at 80+ mph, and hundreds of miles wide. But this is not a normal storm. But several of my relatives all spoke of Oklahoma as if it was one big tornado or flat plain.


Religion and history

Driving home today, I caught part of Jay Sekulow's show. I know, I know. CIL told me not to listen to religious radio. But today was interesting.

During his show, he answered calls from people running into problems starting bible studies at public schools when other groups don't have that kind of problem. I understand their concern and think that most of us want Christians to have the same equal access that other groups enjoy. Of course, many of the Christians who listen to his show are also being told on other shows to find out if schools allow gay and lesbian clubs to know if they should yank their kids out. I guess freedom is only for Christians then?

But I digress. During the show, Sekulow did an ad for his boss (Pat Robertson) and Regent University. He had a clip of former AG John Ashcroft shilling for the school, and his promotion was interesting. He said that studies there would not avoid issues of faith in history.

Do people really think that grad schools at non-Robertson backed schools ignore religion? Do they think that we don't talk about religion or faith in history? We do. We read widely about religious expression; how that changes, and how it impacts the political culture around it. We read about the variety of religious expression and how people approach faith.

What we don't do, however, is explore the role God played in American history. Why? Because that is well outside what our discipline can do. We cannot determine what God thinks about anything. We can't determine what God did or did not do about anything. If that is what Christians want from history, they will be disappointed, and I am afraid will often turn to David Barton and Regent University for an answer they prefer. They shouldn't, but if they don't like the answer, that seems to be the choice.

One other note, btw, was a guy on the radio after my mando lesson. This is the same guy who said some ridiculously stupid things about gender roles. Tonight, he was talking about taking God's name in vain. He certainly talked about profanity, which I expected. But I was surprised to hear him chide those who use God's name to raise money. He even used the example of someone who claimed that "God would take them home if you don't send money." Oral Roberts getting slammed! Wow. About damn time. So tired of people saying stupid stuff like "God told me that you should do this."


Stem cells? Oh my.

Thanks to Feministe for this link. The moral outrage over stem cell research (a topic I often hear on religious radio) seems to be more complicated than the Bush supporters suggest. The language about destroying life for research hides the fact that the in vitro process creates numerous extra embryos that are often destroyed.

BTW, the story yesterday on the Schiavo autopsy was interesting given how many on the right called this murder and said that she was awake and conscious. I checked out the 700 club's web site. The story was very short and ended with a priest saying that the autopsy didn't remove the moral issues of ending life. I agree. Those are serious and not clear. But it is clear that people like Robertson and others misled their viewers into believing, as Stephen Colbert put it, "Schiavo was a Pilates class away from recovery."

religious right watch: America "Left Behind"

Update: this link isn't working right now.

I am sure I found this link over at Jesus Politics, but hadn't read it until today. Interesting review of the similarities between the Left Behind series and the Neocon foreign policy. Worth reading.

religious right watch: America "Left Behind": "The narrative that Bush and his biographers tell is clearly modeled on the parable of the prodigal son -- the young man who fritters away his early life on alcohol and sin, only to find God and return to his rightful place in his father's former occupation. As he recounts his own redemption narrative, Bush had been mired in the world of business and overuse of alcohol, and so turned in his darker hours to the study of scripture. The beginning of his conversion occurred during a summer weekend in 1985, when evangelist Billy Graham visited George and Laura at the Bush summer house in Maine. The reverend, with his magnetic presence and warmth, planted a 'seed of salvation' in W.'s soul that soon blossomed into a new birth and helped him 'recommit [his] heart to Jesus Christ.'"

June 15, 2005

Wow, this is really scary.

Welcome to the grind: Stealth legislation, anyone?

I think this betrays the idiocy of the far right--not recognizing that this could come back to haunt them in a big way. Also, I really doubt that Bushy can pull another one off. But then again, I thought a draft-dodging war monger would lose to a war hero.

Sensenbrenner puzzles me, btw. I remember his role in the impeachment, but also remember him being very hard on Ashcroft and the Patriot act. Or maybe I am confusing him with someone with principles.
Senate Apologizes for Lynching-Ban Delays - Yahoo! News: "To the victims of lynching--4,743 people killed between 1882 and 1968, three out of four of them black--the Senate issued an apology Monday night for not standing against the violence."

I guess apologies are something. I am reminded of the SBC's apology for their role in slavery and segregation. Something about it coming so long after it matters that bugs me. But add to that the list of conservative Republicans who refused to sign the apology (including both Texas Senators and good old Trent Lott) and you wonder what is going on with them? Is this a principled stance? Are they echoing me and saying that apologies don't matter? Or are they beholden to klansmen who will be very angry if the GOP takes a strong stance on such things?

June 14, 2005

Holy Cow!

This is more evidence for those who doubt that American Christianity is blurring the lines between Christianity and Jingoism.

Anne Lamott has the same problem

What do you call yourself if you don't like being lumped in with Jabba Falwell?

TPMCafe || Politics, Ideas & Lots Of Caffeine: "So I think for the time being, I would like to be referred to as The Artist Who Formerly Called Herself a Christian.? If anyone asks, I will explain that I do love Uncle Jesus, and I live for my church, and other churches that, like the early Christians, celebrate mystery and diversity, and believe that we are here to take care of our brothers and sisters."

More anniversary blogging

My aunt and uncle were sitting around the dinner table. I love those two. They are incredibly funny and also fun to be around. But they are also a bit quirky. My uncle refuses to go to eye doctors (I knew this already) and buys all his glasses at the drugstore. But I didn't realize that my aunt also avoids the eye doctor. But she gets her glasses when my mother gets a new prescription.

Streak's Aunt: I may have to go to an eye doctor soon. My eyes are getting bad.

Streak's Mom: Wait, I have a pair in the other room.

SA tries on SM's old glasses: These are great.

Then, as an aside, this:

You know, I can't walk around with glasses. Makes me queasy!

At this point, I gently suggest that glasses might not do that if they were her actual prescription.

Ah, family!

June 12, 2005

Actual Overheard Conversation at Anniversary

Streak's Niece confronted by Person She Doesn't Know.

PSDK: "You look just like your daddy."

SN: "Yeah."

Unrecorded casual conversation.

PSDK: "Who is your daddy again?"

June 9, 2005


I have no idea why they chose this picture, but Limon, Colorado is quite the hot spot. The night life here is intense. Oh wait. I think that is a prison.

Back to the game......

June 8, 2005

50 years!

Light blogging this week, as some of you have probably noticed. SOF and I are preparing to go to Colorado this weekend. My parents are celebrating their 50th anniversary.

That is pretty impressive. I think any of us who have been married recognize that 50 years is not easy. But my parents have made it, and they have treated each other well along the way. I appreciate that, and think that it has made a big impact on my life. Those two listen to each other, and I am glad I had that as a model.

On the road, I may have access and may try to do a bit of blogging. But just know the reason for the drop off.

Congrats, Mom and Dad! We are all impressed. I know that my blogging friends agree.

June 6, 2005

Deep Throat redux

My previous post on Chuck Colson's odd response to Deep Throat spurred some interesting commentary. Hokie suggested that Watergate really only caught people's attention because of the weight of previous issues--namely Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. He wonders if Bush will face a similar fate. Eventually.

I hope so. I certainly hope for our republic that there is some cost to a fraudulent war--that future politicians might rethink something because they don't want to pull a "W." But I wonder. One of the things Rove and Co. have been so very effective at is manipulating the Religious Right. Of course, most Christians I know take lying very seriously, and war even more so, but for some odd reason they are steadfastly in Bush's camp. The moral values that they waved with such righteousness when Clinton got a Lewinsky are no where to be seen. Well, not exactly. They are still displayed and waved, but not at the President. Gays, abortion, Ten Commandments, and teaching evolution are the focus of that "moral fervor."

Christianity is in crisis--at least the American version of it. The most dominant voices in the faith come from the far right where the tenets of Capitalism must be etched on their copy of the 10 commandments. Sin has been redefined to be mostly about sex, while the "sins" of this administration--arrogance, self-righteousness, greed, anger, war, violence--have faded into some kind of religious museum.

There are a lot of things we can talk about and even negotiate. You want to talk about abortion? I am listening. You want to discuss my gay friends? I will talk. You want to talk about an over-sexualized society and popular culture? I am here. But to paraphrase Kasey Chambers, if you aren't pissed off about this administration's activities, then you aren't paying attention. And that goes doubly for people of faith. If you can watch this administration play fast and loose with the truth and not be concerned, then you are not paying attention. If you watch Bush bully people who disagree with him and don't wince, you are choosing to do that. If you listen to him mouth the tenets of your faith but never look for "fruit" then what is the point?

June 5, 2005

Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith

Kristen blogged the other day asking what kind of reader we are. Perhaps it is the residual effects of grad school, but my reading has been intermittent. One of my goals for this summer is to immerse myself in good reading.

This was a great start. As an intermittent reader, it has been a long time since a book (other than a pot boiler) caught my attention. Krakauer's examination of Mormonism certainly did that. Starting the 300 page book Friday night, I finished it Sunday afternoon. Part of that is undoubtedly the fact that he can write, the other was the material.

Growing up in the American West, I have had some exposure to the Mormon Church. I have relatives in the church, and remember our family discussions hapless Mormon missionaries who stumbled into a family that a) liked to argue, and b) knew something about Mormonism. Looking back, many of those young kids had no chance!

But even with that background, I had no idea (as Hokie suggested in the comments) of the fundamentalist wing of the church (or more accurately "wings"). Krakauer looks at the widespread fundy sects that populate North America and continue to practice polygamy (and worse). One such nutcase was the one who kidnapped and "married" Elizabeth Smart.

But what does this tell us about faith in general? Why did Krakauer's book catch so much attention?

Part of it is the nature of the Mormon church. While I find their theology suspect (to say the least), it is their institutionalism that bothers me the most. The church is famous for its secrecy and refuses to allow scholars access to the best sources fearing, of course, that the church will be portrayed badly. As Krakauer recounts, the church sees their history as sacred and wants it all to be, as they put it "faith promoting." A leader said in 1981: "There isa temptation . . . to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy of faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not useful. . . . In an effort to be objective, impartial, and scholarly, a writer or a teacher may unwittingly be giving equalt time to the adversary. . . . In the Church we are not neutral."

As a historian, I find that approach chilling, and this may explain why I get so annoyed with those who would impose their religious beliefs (Christian, Mormon, whatever) on the past.

Several other points from the book resonated. One was Krakauer's assessment of Mormonism as quintessentially American: intensely individualistic and collective all at the same time. The Mormon belief in direct revelation from God means that each individual can, and often does, devise their own separate theology or divine call. But to counter that, Joseph Smith and the modern church try to clamp down on that individual revelation with the conformity of the institution.

Like I said, the theology of the LDS church (fundamentalist or other) leaves me cold, but I also find parallels with the mainstream evangelical church. The emphasis on the personal relationship with God has, in my opinion (and certainly not just mine), led to intensely self-directed theologies. The evangelical church sounds very similar to conservative Mormons in their direct embracing of capitalism and wealth, as well as their insistence on direct revelation from God. Of course, in most people, that direct revelation (or belief therein) is innocuous, but there are those who take that to heart in a destructive way. Certainly, Dobson, Falwell and LaHaye (to name a few) have the arrogance of someone who thinks they have the ear of God. That certainty should be a caution to all of us.

On education: one of the men interviewed in this book was a part of the most fundamentalist sects (and had plural wives, etc.) before he was excommunicated. He relates the wonder of going to college and learning about other things. He returned to tell his "prophet"
"there's a professor over there trying to tell us the earth is four and a half billion years old, but the religion says it is only six thousand years old. . . . Which shows you why education is such a problem for the Work [fundamentalist sect]. You take someone like me, who was always as stalwart as could be, and then you ship him off to get an education and the guy goes and apostatizes on you. Happens over and over again. And every time it does, it makes the leaders more inclined to keep people from learning."

Evangelicals have done something similar, but in their case by simply purging the schools of thought. Southern Baptists stripped their seminaries of anything thoughtful until the seminaries and many of the other schools have become places of indoctrination rather than education. Homeschooling and attempts to limit exposure to scientific and historical knowledge has, unfortunately, had the same impulse. If you listen to religious radio (which I am trying to give up) you will hear people talking about how to keep your kids from "turning" when they go to college. Education is something to be feared. Don't listen to people like me.

On victimization. One of the more fascinating parts of the book had to do with the Mountain Meadows massacre--a famous event in the American west where Mormons killed an entire wagon train of non-Mormons and blamed it on the Indians (naturally). Some blamed it on the wagon train's affluence and the Mormon's relative state of poverty. But, as Krakauer says: "the wagon train from Arkansas was probably imperiled less by its affluence than by the Saints' carefully nurtured sense of persecution." I immediately thought of the repeated mantra that conservative Christians are being persecuted in a country where they control much of the political landscape. As I have suggested elsewhere, it is much easier to rally the troops by calling on their sense of victimization or persecution than by telling them that they control most of what they want. If you concede the latter, much harder to take responsibility for the things you don't like.

Enough for now. If you haven't read the book, I think it is well worth the time.

More Lamott

TPMCafe || Politics, Ideas & Lots Of Caffeine: "However, I do feel passionately about a couple of things right now, so I'll just share those things. One is Jesus, and his message of peace and love and kindness and taking care of the poor: I cannot reconcile my faith with that of the theocrats in the White House, because I think they have gotten it so wrong. For instance, I read the New Testament nearly every day, and yet cannot find anything about handing out guns to everyone, especially to the angriest and most bigoted Americans. Also, I cannot find anything about tax cuts, imperialism, or destroying the forests. But then, I do not claim to be a good Christian, and in fact, have been referred to in the press as being a crabby believer, and this is true. However, I do know that Jesus always, a hundred percent of the time, stood up for the least amongst us, not just the stock and bond traders. Jesus always maintained that hitting first was the mark of evil, and yet, our country and Iraq are both being destroyed by America's pre-emptive war. Hasn't this administration ever heard of the word 'karma'? And I've said this way too many times already--but not to you, so maybe it is--but you KNOW that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people that you do. Yet Jesus didn't hate anyone."

June 4, 2005

From Kevin: Remembering Reagan

wasp jerky: Saturday Comics Blogging

Summer reading

Given my change in employment and the end of the semester, it is truly time for some summer reading for me. With some birthday money, I picked up a few new books at Borders the other day.

On the light side, I read Carl Hiaasen's new (well, new in paperback) Skinny Dip. If you haven't read his stuff, you should. Not deep reading, mind you, but some of the funniest stuff out there. Dark humor, no doubt, but still incredibly funny. Tourist Season is one of my favorites, as is Native Tongue. He wrote Strip Tease and the book is (no shock) much better than the movie. His brand of humor is not for everyone, but damn it is funny.

Back to the more serious stuff. I also picked up Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven and am having real trouble putting it down. For those who don't know, it is about Mormon fundamentalism, including people who kill based on supposed messages from God. Chilling stuff.

It reminds me of the perils of patriarchical and hierarchical religion. In the case of the fundy Mormons, it is easy to see. But the women who are forced into polygamous marriages as young teens do so because they have been indoctrinated since birth to accept the leadership of their faith. They are incredibly vulnerable to people who can discuss Mormon theology and use it to justify their actions.

I don't think anything I have ever experienced comes close to this, bit it does make me think of the church speak that is so easy to use and so hard to dismiss (if you are inside those churches). I think a pretty good rule of thumb for any faith is that it should encourage dissent and thought. If it doesn't, and especially if it plays the gender card, stay away. Just say no.

Anne Lamott on Bush

TPMCafe || Politics, Ideas & Lots Of Caffeine: " But he was peerless today -- arrogant, clueness, stupid. My heart soared like an eagle, which is probably politically incorrect, but it is also the truth. You could see exactly what Jim Hightower meant when he said that Bush was like someone born on 3rd base, who thinks he's hit a triple. It was mesmerizing to watch him lie and mispronounce words; I couldn't take my eyes off him: it was cobra-hypnosis.

Of course, the line that stole the show was about the lying detainees at Gitmo, 'people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble -- that means not tell the truth.' But there were many other equally astonishing lines. It did me a world of good: watching him, you couldn't help but think that Act II is nearly over. Of course, there will be some tiny flies in the Act III ointment, such as the coming lack of oil, and the fact that the whole world hates us. But I say, pick, pick,pick, because the right wing of the GOP is disassembling right before our very eyes. While I continue to believe that mass demonstrations (coupled with cyber activism) can help bring the end of this terrible administration, we also seriously need to keep the faith, and we can't do that if we lose our senses of humor. Laughter really IS carbonated holiness. So THANK you, Mr. Bush, for the last few days."

I hope she is right. It is clearly the worst administration since Harding. Maybe Grant.


The last time I heard about this particular Republican was on religious radio where a fundy was talking about how they finally had a governor with principles.

Chuck Currie: Missouri Governor Matt Blunt Hoists Up Racist Confederate Flag Above State: "When you look up extremist politician in most any dictionary you'll find Missouri Governor Matt Blunt. He is one of those guys who prays for unborn babies and then cuts health care and educational spending for actual live children."

Now (and thanks to Chuck Currie for alerting me to this story), the good Governor is demonstrating more conservative principle:

Missouri Site to Fly Confederate Flag - New York Times: "Gov. Matt Blunt of Missouri has ordered that the Confederate battle flag be flown Sunday at a state cemetery where former rebel soldiers were buried, a move denounced by black leaders."

Just as Jesus would do.

June 3, 2005

Oh Come On!!!

This guy is our President?

"'It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of -- and the allegations -- by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble -- that means not tell the truth.'"

People made a big deal about Bush's partial grasp of Spanish. Too bad he isn't fluent in English. Aren't all of you conservatives embarrassed everytime this guy speaks. When did it become a good thing to elect a President who is dumber than you?

Reminds me of two great lines from the Simpsons and King of the Hill.

Simpsons: Principle Skinner tells Ralph Wiggum he is failing English. Ralph responds: "Me fail English? That's unpossible."

Hank in King of the Hill: "Failing English? Bobby, you speak English!"

Best take on Deep Throat

Opinions You Should Have - June 2005 Archives: "Paul Revere A Despicable Tattletale, Says GOP

Republicans today criticized Paul Revere for his famous ride, saying that he had violated professional colonial ethics by divulging military secrets in violation of his duty to his lord, the King of England.

'These were sensitive informations about military troop movements with which he had been entrusted,' said G. Gordon Liddy, an expert on ethics in government and a professor at several unaccredited law schools.

'Paul Revere was a traitor and a law breaker,' said Anakin Skywalker in a confidential interview shortly before his limbs were lopped off and he burst into flame.

Conservatives all over America pointed out that Revere also endangered people's lives by riding willy nilly all over Massachusetts at a full gallop in the dark of night. 'He could have trampled someone,' said Bill O'Reilly. 'Paul Revere was a reckless and irresponsible nazi,' he added.

Pat Buchanan derided Revere as a 'coward' and a 'snake' who was unwilling to be direct with the British government regarding his complaints about the monarchy. 'There were channels,' he said.

Peggy Noonan shook her head. 'There's nothing sadder than Americans who have no respect for the rule of law,' she said."

Theocracy on the march

It isn't just in Ohio.

Coffee out the nose funny

Well, not quite. But damn funny. Kevin pointed us to Support Our Ribbons site that, well, certainly makes fun of the ubiquitous ribbon on the back of cars. As I keep saying, my favorites are the ones trumpeting their love of God or Bush (or both) on the back of some monstrosity.

Here is an example.

June 2, 2005

As SOF said, a must read

Monastic Mumblings, a Friar's Journey: Sea of Scarlet: "So, the question for me, is how are Evangelicals using their new found power? Is the Church more spiritual, holy, living a vibrant Gospel or have we failed? Has the Church been seduced by Wealth and Power, and consumed with Lust for more? Do politicians that are supported by the Christian Right live open, holy lives? Sadly I think not. I see too many politicians living dark lives, full of hidden sins, while they openly proclaim faith in Jesus and preach against the very things they are doing. (See list below) What I find amazing is that Conservative Christians shrilly complain at 'secular leftists' but slyly wink at sinners in their own ranks, and trade spouses at a rate that makes most of those same 'secular leftists' blush with shame. The hypocrisy of their lives, lived in front of their children is rasing up a generation of people that want nothing to do with organized Church of any kind!

I would say that called Christian America has become such a farce and a hypocrisy to their children and the entire world, I wonder why any one would want to become a follower of Jesus!

Somehow something has changed in American Christianity. We no longer believe in the gentle Shepherd from Nazareth, we have put our faith in politics, guns and bombs. We have lost our way on a sea of scarlet sin, and have no one to blame but ourselves. How, and in what way will any amout of Law or Politics roll back the effects of the Fall?"

Well said, Monk in Training. I would add to this the fact that the itinerant rebel Jesus, in some inexplicable way, has become the icon of choice for wealth suburbanites.

American culture may be sorely in need of help. There is little doubt that our political system is sick; our popular culture is obsessed with sex, and worse, filled with bad art. But it is our churches that seem to be the most sick. Becoming more and more Republican and Americanized, Jesus is becoming less the Shepard and more the Militant overlord.

I like the shepard.

In other news, Chuck Colson has forgotten his morality lesson

I expect this kind of crap from Buchanan and Liddy, but Colson is the guy who wears his faith on his sleeve, and has no problem chiding the rest of us. To demean Mark Felt for exposing WaterGate is amazing. The quotes below tell the story. Colson didn't learn the lesson at all. I think he may need to read a little more of the book he likes to hit people with.

Felt Jeopardized Public Trust, Former Nixon Aides Say -- 06/01/2005: "Colson said he's shocked and saddened to learn that Mark Felt was Deep Throat. Colson said he's sad for Felt, with whom Colson worked - and whom Colson always considered a 'consummate professional.' 'I never thought anybody with such a position of sensitivity at the Justice Department would breach confidences,' Colson said in a Today show interview.

What about what Colson did?

Colson disagreed with the notion that Felt is a hero. 'A hero is someone that you want other people to emulate... and to say he was a hero because he broke his trust...he broke the confidence of the president of the United States.'

This sounds like the ravings of someone who likes to blame everyone but himself. You want to know who broke the confidence of the President? The fucking President when he lied and broke the law.

In the same Wednesday morning interview with NBC's Matt Lauer, Pat Buchanan - a former adviser and speechwriter to President Richard Nixon -- said Felt was 'full of bitterness and resentment' because he'd been passed over for the FBI director.'There's nothing heroic about breaking faith with your people, breaking the law, sneaking around in garages, putting stuff from an investigation...(Lauer interrupts).

Right. You rather have an administration using the power of the government to spy on private citizens. Buchanan is an ass, we all know that.

Buchanan noted that J. Edgar Hoover 'knew all of the lurid secrets of Jack Kennedy, but thank God, he didn't go out and give them to the Chicago Tribune. That would have been an awful thing to do.Buchanan agreed with Colson's assessment of Felt: 'As Chuck [Colson] says, the FBI knows every secret almost about everybody they've ever investigated...if you want the FBI putting this material out on the record when somebody wants to - what kind of country do you want?'"

Here is a hint, Pat. I want a country where asswipes like you aren't in power. The gall of people who defended Nixon (and now often defend Bush) for attacking the guy who helped expose the biggest modern Presidential scandal (until Bush worked the intelligence to justify an invasion) is unbelievable. Not surprising. But still annoying as hell. Of course, what do I expect. Bush lies about the Iraq war from the beginning; we all know about it; and yet the American people reelect the creep. (Yes, I recognize the use of that word. I think it fits. Bush is, in the words of John Dean, even worse than Nixon.) But for Chuck Colson to react like this shows just how arrogant he is.

Why is it that no prominent religious leader in our country understands the virtue of humility? They can lecture us ad nauseum on sexual purity and other sins, but what about basic humility? Gone. Instead, we are left with Phyllis Schaffley, James "King" Dobson, Jerry "Jabba" Falwell, and Pat "Wackjob" Robertson.

Thank God for blogs--Else I would feel all alone in this craziness

From the parish we find that people are repeating more stupidty over and over, like Jesus loves private property, and our founders never intended for religious freedom to extend to anyone but Christians.

"Had cause to interview a theocrat yesterday for an upcoming story. He called himself that. Just like that: 'I'm a theocrat.' He wanted to qualify what that means, which I appreciate, although I wasn't real comfortable with the qualification, especially as it included the statement: 'The founding fathers never meant to give religious freedom to Wiccans, satanists, and atheists.' Yeesh...

Dude. Greg, if you didn't have an impulse to slap this guy, then you are a bigger man than me. I wonder if he has any sense of how many of the more fundamentalists sects that are "mainstream" today would have been on the list had our founders decided to pick and choose religions. Baptists might have made that list. Certainly Mormons would have. Probably Catholics as well. Oops.

He also mentioned an idea I've been hearing quite a bit about lately. Capitalism is biblical. That's right, the idea of private property is in the Bible and therefore God-ordained. The best way to run a country is according to biblical principles, and since private property is a biblical principle, why then, capitalism is God's chosen form of government. As I recall, and Kristen will have to help me here because she has the article now, Jeff Sharlet has a quote from Ted Haggard in his Haper's piece about economics and evangelicalism. I expect to see quite a bit more about this in the next year or two. It seems to be a growing trend. The theocratic spin-machine is in fifth gear and roaring away. Pretty soon we'll be hearing from mainstream pundits that America should be a 'soft' theocracy and that capitalism is the heart of Christianity (or vice versa). Never was Barth more necessary to a Church's theological identity than right now in America."

I am afraid Greg is right. Bruce has written about this a lot lately, and we are hearing the theocratic language coming more and more from people who should know better. Grownups? Time to speak.

Favorite quote of the day comes from Micah and Kristen's blog: "What Flannery called Christ-haunted, I'm beginning to feel is Christ-bludgeoned." Me too.

What's the matter with Kansas? Stupid Senators, that is what.

Feministe ? Anti-Suffragist H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E: "I think the 19th Amendment, while it's not an evil in and of itself, is a symptom of something I don't approve of. The 19th Amendment is around because men weren't doing their jobs, and I think that's sad. I believe the man should be the head of the family. The woman should be the heart of the family.
-- Kansas State Senator Kay O'Connor, 2001--

As Feministe points out, the hypocrisy is that this woman has been elected before and as now running for Secretary of State. Isn't it heartwarming when someone this stupid is running for office? After she has said that she herself shouldn't be able to vote? I am starting to agree. I know too many smart women to stoop to gender stereotypes, but I am beginning to think that we should have an IQ test for the polls. She would fail in an instant. The Kansas political scene would improve over night, evolution would not be challenged by half-assed, watered-down creationism, and we might have a little hope.

"Heart of the family?" Talk about historical ignorance. Read a little, Kay, before you go and chastize both sexes. Maybe try to understand that that little stereotype you just articulated is a short artifact in time--part of the 19th century Cult of True Womanhood. And, Senator, you are an idiot, and a hypocrite.

June 1, 2005

conservatives hate ideas

Feminste pointed this out. Phyllis Schaffly and her group of rocket scientists have decided that certain books are dangerous. Hey, what do you know? Marx made the list twice. Any criticism of capitalism is unwelcome.

My favorite? That Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique made the list. Whatever you do, don't challenge male domination. Dare suggest that all women may not find suburban housewifery fulfilling and you are dangerous. Nevermind that historians know that, well before Friedan, women were struggling in the suburbs. Valium and other tranquilizers were used in huge and growing numbers, as was the growth of alcohol among those women.

Here is what bugs me the most. What is so wrong about suggesting that not everone wants to live the same way? Why suggest to all women that they have to live a certain way? Why not recognize that some are going to be wonderfully fullfilled as housewives, but others will not? What is wrong with that?

There seems to be this hugely popular meme going around conservative women, which suggests that those who have decided to not pursue careers are put down by feminists. I am not saying that never happens, but in all the feminists I know, I have yet to see that. I know my experience is annecdotal, but it seems to be growing as an urban legend. Part of the difficulty is that so many of the feminist women I have known are often stay-at-home moms or certainly committed parents. Yet the meme persists that feminists hate families and motherhood.

Why is Phyllis Schaffley even taken seriously here? What credibility does she have on the average woman's life?