Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Losin My Religion

No, not that one. My political religion. Why, after such a great victory, would I be so discouraged? Good question; and let me say up front I could not be more delighted that Barack Obama will be our next President. Let me say it, us liberal Christians don't say it enough, Hallelujah! This is good news, but yet there is bad news in this election season. We are not the people I had hoped we were, and by we I mean Americans and particularly liberals. All the signs were there all along but with the hustle and bustle of the past 22 months it sat just under the surface in my consciousness. But now I can only ask "what is the matter with us? when did we become so jaded, so selfish, so ugly?"

There is a story in the Bible (John 6:35-70) where it becomes pretty obvious that Jesus is bat shit crazy and nearly everybody deserts Him. So He turns to His close disciples and asks if they might be leaving too. Peter answers "where will we go, you have the words of life?" and then Jesus rewarded Peters oath of fealty with another non-seqitur. "We wish you were a little more stable and we know you are going to get us all killed, but you da man! We don't want to be with anybody else, no matter how much you frustrate us" I guess this is how I am feeling about the progressive movement and America in general. I am not going to become a Republican or move to another country, I just wish we could get our shit together. We can't blame our leaders. this is a democracy; we decide how we react. We decide if we are going to get one more jab in on Mr. McCain, we decide if we are going to file a lawsuit against Mr. Obama for visiting his dying grandmother, we decide if we are going to spread specious and anyway unhelpful rumors about Mr. McCain's aunt. Because, you know, Mr. McCain showed a lot of grace in his concession speech, encouraging his supporters to now support our new President; and the citizens, those good hearted Americans, booed and cat called anyway. I think it is we that are corrupting our leaders.

We elected an African American to the Presidency, that is a positive step; it shows that many of us have gotten over some of our prejudice, and that still others are willing to admit that the country is such and unmitigated mess that we need a different solution, because what we have been doing hasn't been working. But, for the most part we did it for ourselves; it does not herald a great enlightening of the American people. We were in trouble, scared, and turned to the guy who most loudly proclaimed that we arrived here due to mismanagement and that he would do things differently; but we are no more tenderhearted, we are no more convinced that our Constitution matters. How can we tell? Just look at the various state referendums.

Voters in Arizona took time out of their busy day to pass a Constitutional amendment marginalizing their GLBT neighbors but couldn't spare the time to punish dishonest businessmen who illegally exploit South American immigrants, preferring to heap condemnation on the heads of those people who have fled to the US to escape economic and political oppression which in many cases exist to enrich American businessmen.

In Arkansas they voted to prohibit gay couples from adopting children; I wonder how this will affect existing families?

In California, Cali-frigging-fornia!, they passed a Constitutional amendment, prohibiting gay marriage. I am conflicted about the abortion notification measure, as I am fully committed to the fact that ones body belongs to oneself, but loving supportive parents might wan the chance to offer comfort to their child. More on this later. The people in California voted for Mr. Obama.

In Colorado they voted to end affirmative action in the public sector. The movie "Men of Honor" tells the true story of Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear, the first African American Navy diver. In one scene it show Chief Brashear completing his certification using a gear bag that had been sabotaged, this was a turning point in his trainer's opinion of him. If a person can perform competitively at a job against great odds then it is just common sense they will excel when the odds are equalized, thus providing exceptional service. Fairness aside, affirmative action provides us with the strongest and most persistent candidates for a job. I too feel that life cannot possible begin at "conception" (if conception could even be determined), and if it did God kills an awful lot of babies, more on that later. The people in Colorado voted for Mr. Obama.

Florida banned gay marriage and voted for Mr. Obama.

Maryland voted to allow a video lottery to pay for public school costs, presumably relieving the tax burden on its citizens and voted for Mr. Obama.

Nebraska voted to end affirmative action, but voted Republican, so this is, at least, consistent.
Additionally, South Dakota voted down their draconian abortion laws, which would appear inconsistent in light of them also voting Republican.

And Washington State voted to legalize physician assisted suicide. I agree that it is wrong to force a terminally ill person to suffer with no hope. The did vote for Mr. Obama.

Michigan voted to allow medical marijuana and stem cell research and voted for Mr. Obama. I support both of these issues.

What is my point? People voted for their personal best interest when given the opportunity but consistently, across the board failed to vote to protect the rights of others. It's my body, dammit, and mind your own business, but we get to tell you what to do with your heart. In a country that get past their prejudices and dogmas to ensures women the rights to their own body; the sick access to effective medication, both in the present and in research for the future, discover creative ways to cut taxes without cutting services and provide a dignified end when life is over; people should be allowed to decide with whom they are going to spend their lives, and be treated with the same dignity and respect for their family as their neighbor, gain justice in the workplace and not be scapegoated for broken immigration and foreign policy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


The fine folks at asked me to share this with you (whomever you are):

1. The polls may be wrong. This is an unprecedented election. No one knows how racism may affect what voters tell pollsters—or what they do in the voting booth. And the polls are narrowing anyway. In the last few days, John McCain has gained ground in most national polls, as his campaign has gone even more negative.
2. Dirty tricks. Republicans are already illegally purging voters from the rolls in some states. They're whipping up hysteria over ACORN to justify more challenges to new voters. Misleading flyers about the voting process have started appearing in black neighborhoods. And of course, many counties still use unsecure voting machines.
3. October surprise. In politics, 15 days is a long time. The next McCain smear could dominate the news for a week. There could be a crisis with Iran, or Bin Laden could release another tape, or worse.
4. Those who forget history... In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote after trailing by seven points in the final days of the race. In 1980, Reagan was eight points down in the polls in late October and came back to win. Races can shift—fast!
5. Landslide. Even with Barack Obama in the White House, passing universal health care and a new clean-energy policy is going to be hard. Insurance, drug and oil companies will fight us every step of the way. We need the kind of landslide that will give Barack a huge mandate.
If you agree that we shouldn't rest easy, please sign up to volunteer at your local Obama office by clicking here:

We're just two weeks away from turning the page on the Bush era—but we can't afford to take our eye off the prize. We've got to keep pushing until the very end.

And by the way it wouldn't hurt to drop me a line; I feel so lonely.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Well, it isn't getting any better, is it? The present administration does one evil destructive thing after another, and Congress just lets them. One catastrophe worse than the one before and the answer is suppose to be to give them more authority. This should have been nipped in the butt THE FIRST SECOND that the "Democrats" had the majority. It may almost be OK for the Republicans to take for granted that we are "nice guys" and expect us to lay there; I mean if we realize that they are "evil bastards" and that they will rape us (and the rest of the country) with every vile and hurtful thing they can get their hands on. And the really annoying thing? The unmitigated evil of the administration and their cronies coupled with the complicity of the Democratically controlled Congress obscures the fact that there are good honest patriotic Republicans that are sick of the abuse and Democrats ready to fight to take our country back, but ham stringed by their leadership too flush with privileged to do their jobs; representing the American people. I want to share a couple of e-mails I sent the speaker of the house soon after their "victory". They apparently had no effect on her, maybe they will make sense to you.


5-23-2007: Taking back our country -

Dr. Madam Speaker,

My father would ask ba quanda? (sp) , but when?
I guess the advertisement advocating John McCain for president on your web
page says it all.
It should be abundantly clear by now that Mr. Bush has no intention of
cooperating with healing the country that he so gleefully destroyed, and
frankly, every day that you allow him to continue as a barrier to progress
you are further implicated in his evil doing. He stated today that AG
Gonzales did nothing wrong. The use of the Justice department to steal
elections was doing nothing wrong. These are not misguided people, who just
want what is best for our country and its people; but rather greedy selfish
men who envision a society where the majority of Americans are beholden to
their feudal masters. They have , with much industry, dismantled not only
the advances made by the new deal and the great society, but also those made
by the American revolution. There is not much of the Constitution that
remains intact after this administration. And the bill of rights might as
well never been written. The President is unfazed by his tumbling popularity;
he doesn't care what others think of him, only his opinion matters; in short he is a sociopath.
No amount of failure is going to dissuade him from his disastrous course, and
he is willing to take the country with him, no he desires it. It is kind of
cute that you passed all of those bills early in the year, but with no way to
get them signed into law, what difference does it make? When the country
comes crashing down around our feet, George Bush will not be called on to
pay; he will already be gone, living a life of privilege in a country more
accommodating to the privileged than when he took office. And when our
grandchildren are struggling for air and food and jobs, when we are no longer here to protect them, it will not trouble him in the least. A Viceroy in
Iraq that loses billions, a FEMA chief that allows thousands to die and tens
of thousands to suffer, an AG that perverts the very meaning of justice; when is enough enough?


06/10/2007: National Security Presidential Directive (remember that? kinda seems like small change after all the Congress has allowed the administration to get away with since) -

Dear Madam Speaker,

Can you think of a more criminally incompetent person to be totally in charge
of America during time of real crisis than George W. Bush? For that matter
can you think of a more inept person to be in charge of a lemonade stand
during a heat wave. Is there anybody in your recent memory that has been
more prolific at rescuing disaster from the jaws of opportunity than George
W. Bush?

How can you possibly leave him minding our great country, when it appears the
only thing keeping him up at night is his failure to have totally destroyed
our country, our reputation, our freedoms and our way of life? How can you
claim to be doing your job while allowing him to word the NSPD and HSPD in
such a way that it gives him dictatorial powers if HE decides there is a
crisis of sufficient magnitude? His entire administration has been defined
by large scale crisis, most by his hand.

No matter how true your motives, this country will never get back on track
with Bush in the White House, he has proved that by vetoing the Military
Spending Bill, by continuing to shelter Alberto Gonzalez, and by continuing
to nominate hateful or incompetent people to those positions that fall under
his control. There is also a good possibility that anther Supreme Court
Justice will have to be appointed before his term naturally ends. If there
is any question of what a disaster that would be, just review some of the
rulings made by the Supreme Court in the past month or so. Imagine forty
years of this type of obstruction, regardless of who lives in the White House
and what the composition of the Congress is.

You must either reign him in, or if you feel you (meaning in both cases
Congress) cannot, then you must impeach him. It has gone beyond politics.
This is no longer about getting along; Mr. Bush has proved that he takes
Newt Gingrich's advice to heart; "bi-partisanship is another word for date
rape." You cannot hope to unilaterally cooperate. Mr. Bush has decried the
mean spirited tone in Washington and then when you have presented a more
friendly face, has interpreted it for weakness and attacked since the
beginning of his term. NO MORE MS NICE GUY! Start doing what we hired you
for; defend the Constitution from ALL enemies, foreign and DOMESTIC.


This administration has proved that they don't need a whole lot of time to percolate a disaster; January is a million years from now in "Dubya" years. There is also time for the Congress, Democrats and Republicans, to do the job they were hired to do; put some stringent conditions on any bailouts, automakers, banking, Wall Street. These people have made their living despoiling America for long enough, it is time they start giving back. It has become standard operating procedure in our justice system to deny the criminals the fruits of their ill gotten gains, except in those arenas run by the administrations cronies. This must change.

The automakers can have the money, if they retool their factories to produce massively more energy efficient cars and hire American workers to build those cars, it is our money. The financial sector can have the money, if they are equally forgiving of their clients, if they will restructure mortgages so that home owners can pay them, it is our money; if they will repair retirement accounts so that retirees are not impoverish by the collapse, it is our money; if they will operate to rebuild our economy and invest in the hardest hit communities, it is OUR money!

Or we could let "the market prevail", let them live with the consequences of their actions (as they have advocated for us), throw the criminals in jail, take the wealth from the greedy offer no aid to managers that mis-managed; and spend that money on a new crop of automakers, investors and government officials who are willing to put us before their personal and financial agendas.
Either way is OK with me (Jesus probably prefers compassion, though.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pauline Gospel

I was pointed to this page by a friend on a mailing list and i felt I should answer its allegations. I promise I will get back to posting political articles in this election season.

You know what I like about the Rainbow Bible? It illustrates that everything is not black and white ;-)

I think that Paul (and subsequent "Pauls") had a "refreshing" view on Jesus and His message. I also believe

1 - that the fore mentioned Jesus was God incarnate, died until He was dead dead dead and then rose bodily from the dead. I believe that His life death and Resurrection mended the gulf between God and mankind.

2 - That the Bible is the inspired message from God through which He reveals His character and His love for us. It's message is much too important to insist that it is 100 percent scientifically or historically accurate, or that it was written in such a way that it is easily transposed into the 21st century without prayerful reflection and study; including study of what it would mean unassailed at the time it was written and to it's original audience. And as such can have messages that seem inconsistent to our modern minds, If we can be sure of any part of the gospels it is what Jesus said. The sequence and context and order of what He did carried lesser importance to the gospel writers and who the other actors were, exactly. They were telling the good news of Jesus, and if a Pharisee became a a Sadducee or some such for the continuity of the story, so be it. But nobody doubts the words. And fewer than you think doubt the narrative, just maybe the order.

3 - Paul was in fact a Pharisee and Pharisees were not all that bad of a group of people, and a convenient composite for contrast to the Church. Paul does not apologize for being a Pharisee, but rather supports his assertions due to his advanced learning. This witness is not only present in his epistles, but also in the book of acts, where "At this point Festus interrupted Paul's defense. "You are out of your mind, Paul!" he shouted. "Your great learning is driving you insane." Acts 26:24. The Pharisees went on to found Rabbinical Judaism, which also believes that God is still speaking.

4- a) asked and answered; Jesus is Lord, this certainly occurs in places other than the epistles credited to Paul (and the ones he indeed wrote)
b) salvation is by grace through the faithfulness of Jesus. It is what the actual words say (in Greek, a language that the Bible WAS written in) and it is more consistent with scripture and the other words of Paul.
c) The blood of Jesus, as a substance has as much to do with salvation as the blood of lambs and goats had in the Hebrew covenant. Paul did not invent this doctrine, but rather appealed to it when addressing a Hebrew audience, as this was the context that they could relate to. It is an imperfect model at best, which is why it is not the only one he used, and even in that his arguments are inconsistent IF that is what he is arguing. For example he cast Jesus as the sacrificial lamb and the scape goat, two incompatible beasts, who are not interchangeable. This cannot be a Pauline invention, because it is not what he is saying.
d) This again is both present in other scriptures, beside the point, and cannot be literally accurate. Jesus never transgressed the will of the Father, so in this He is "sinless". But sin mean separation and Jesus Himself cried out (yes I know He was quoting scripture) "My God, My God why have You forsaken me", and then further He gave up His ghost (which was, you know, God) so the man Jesus was separated from "God". There was a period of time that His body, which was resurrected was separated from God.
e) I am not sure that the concept of "original sin" is the problem, or what conclusions we draw from that, a controversy that has played enthusiastic drama for the entire life of the church. Is man separated from God due to some conditions which the individual does not have control and can be traced back to the act or acts of another or others, sure.
f) I cannot imagine the fellow who wrote this web page could have typed this with a straight face. I mean, there were probably enough specious allegations in the page that most of his intended audience would not show the intellectual courage to refute, but The Holy Spirit? Cmon!!! I, apparently unlike the author of this web page, have listened to and studied many of the folks that I am sure this page is referring to (Crossan, Borg, etc.) and none of them would allege that Paul created the Holy Spirit. That's just embarrassing.

5 - The Gnostic gospels are a good source for understanding the cultural conditions in which Jesus lived and the Bible was written. They shed light on some issues that were not among the priorities of the canonical gospel writers. There are also fragmented and jejune in many cases. Not even Bart Erlman consider them of greater value than the canonical gospels.

It is probably true that the concept of a Pauline gospel is a misunderstanding of the Gospel, regardless of which end of the issue you stand. There is a single gospel that is made up of many voices. Paul himself cautioned those whom he wrote to not take his word above all others, but to follow Jesus. Paul interpreted that journey in one way, Peter another and John and James another still. This is the thing I do have against the "Rainbow Bible" it is confusing with all those colors, we may lose sight of how important the words in red are.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Two Accounts of Creation

OK, so like there are two accounts of creation, and they differ, and they are right next to one another, right in the beginning of the book; right next to each other, not even separated by a few pages or nothing. So either the cat that wrote Genesis is really really stupid OR realized that cover pages often get lost and this was better and less likely to be ignored than a disclaimer that said "WARNING! THIS IS NOT A SCIENCE TEXT - for worship and religious purposes only!" And that should really have been that, start the book with two distinct poetic renditions of creation and people will get the joke that what is contained withing is a lot more important than science or history or any type of "hard" knowledge. But this doesn't happen, instead you get people trying to reconcile the two and arguing about what kind of weapon Cain used to off Able and what the heck is gopher wood and how did all those animals fit in the ark, where did the water come from and where did it go and why was God afraid the the tower builders in Babel would succeed when He knew there was no place for them to go and a tower would collapse if it were just a couple of miles high regardless of what it was made of? And they actually come up with answers! Sometimes conflicting answers, and they argue and fight and start wars about the which answer it right.

Maybe we need a new translation, like a "Bible for Idiots" that has hints that this is a religious tome and not history or science or any of that stuff. We could change just a few things like change "there lived a man named Abram" to "there was once this guy, let's call him Abram, for example" and sprinkle a lot of "yeah, that's the ticket" and "no man, really forty flippin' days!" around and then maybe people would get the joke. Or they could just tell the stories around the camp fire for about 3000 years before anybody wrote it down, just like the folklore of every other religion in human history. Nah, that wouldn't work, they already tried that one. I guess they should stick with starting the book with two different poetic renditions of the same story that say different things (I admit the second story isn't quite as poetic).

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Requiem for a Horse

Brothers and sisters we are gathered here to mourn the death of the Republicans moral high horse. Mitt Romney is running a political advertisement stating that he is not one of those "tax and spend" democrats, this is probably the only state in the union that would not respond to this rubbish by storming the station. But. today, the horse is finally dead; it is only right to mourn it, after all the great sins of the republican party aren't the horses fault. For thirteen years the poor thing has taken them everywhere they wanted to go, regardless of how foolish they looked when they got there. The horse, I think Bullshit is his name has been looking sickly for quite some time, with them spending over a billion dollars a week on the Iraq war and two trillion dollars in tax cuts aimed at the very rich, while requests by we the people for five or ten million dollars to feed our hungry, or 3-10 billion to keep an entire city from winding up underwater were rebuffed by the cry, "there is no money." Today, President Bush, who fancies himself a Christian vetoed a bill to fund medical care for children, and my representative, who undoubtedly ran on some sort of a religious platform (it is hard to keep the "three stooges", Graham, DeMint and Wilson, straight) explained to me that he supports him for the same old political reasons. This after yesterday then entire Congress gave the White House over 200 billion dollars to fuel the disaster in Iraq.
An investigation is underway to determine cause of death, foul play is seriously suspected; knowing the republicans it's probably something sick and disgusting. So, Rest in Peace, Bullshit; and please you horse traders out there, don't sell these reprobates another horse.

Friday, August 10, 2007


In this "election season" a neglected issue is what will the next president do to rescue our neighbors to the south from the bloody greedy hegemony of American and "transnational" (read American) corporations? Who will stand up to these bullies and tell them they may not despoil the entire planet to fill their own pocketbooks; that they have gotten away with it for long enough? America's relationship to the world is a vital issue and touches on virtually every other issue we face. You want to discuss an "immigration problem"? Stop making other peoples homes unlivable and they will live in them; stop destroying the economies and governements of the Americas and beyond, and they will build democracies that the people want to inhabit (but, of course those people won't be available to exploite here and abroad). What we are calling an immigration problem others call human trafficing and slavery. You are concerend by war and hostility that other people have toward us? Alllow them to govern themselves; stop putting puppet governerments in power that steal from the poor to give to the rich.

Make no mistake, this is a moral, a "religious" issue. An administration that claims to be "Christian" and trades in slavery and oppression has a lot of explaining to do. Much of Jesus preaching was council on how to resist the "free trade" advocates of His time, the Roman empire; lend without expectation of repayment, share you excess, love your neighbor There is of course more to this than a political strategy, but the people of His time were being driven into poverty by the policies of the empire, and their response to the communities that His followers created mirror our response to South American countries that demand freedom. Then as now, free trade meant that the empire was free to become more powerful and the local people were free to starve.

We know these neo-liberal economic policies don't work. We know they only wreak destruction; we have seen it in nation after nation, not the least of these Iraq (and of course the U.S.A). We have seen economies destroyed and freedoms lost. In Iraq we did everything that has already failed and then we were shocked it erupted in violence. And further, we know what does work. After world war two we instituted the Marshall plan; rebuilding economies, putting the wealth and potential back into the hands of the people in the lands of our ex-enemies. At home, we funded the arts, put people back to work for a livable wage, provided the GI bill to help returning soldiers get good jobs and own houses. All of thes policies have fallen by the wayside; they are not friendly to a feudal society, they create and egalatarian society, not one where the majority of people are just tools to be used by the priviledged few and then discarded.

So, which of these candidates will become a President that will give our nation its soul back? Restore or dreams and our morality? Does anybody have the courage? And rest assured, it will take courage. If the people of the U.S. caught wind that democracy and populist capitalism works, and that the corporatism that runs this country is neither democratic or capitalist, we might want a piece of that.