Monday, April 28, 2008

Thoughts Welcome

OK, I don't like to do this, but I think the discourse is needed.
Below is a ad a Mississippi politician is running against his Democratic opponent. Of course the guy is wearing jeans in front of a John Deere tractor and has "Pro-Life Conservative" at the top of his ad--but the message is (or should be) predictable. Obviously taken out of context and expolited, but, when has that ever mattered to mainstream America.

My question is this--would the people swayed by this ad have voted for Obama (or those he endorsed locally) anyway? I think it is damning; and I realize there is a reason Bush has been in office 8 years--but I'm not sure that anyone who would be scared by this ad would have been a likely voter anyway--or maybe it is to make those who would vote stay home for fear that these kind of tactics are inevitable? Thoughts???

Friday, April 25, 2008

Propensity For Myth Part I

In my last post on Propensity for Myth (click here) I talked about "why". It was a bit socio-analytical, and in the light of Obama's "bitter" comments, I am sure it could be discounted as elitist. But then is it elitist to try and find out why? To educate yourself and others on the reasons why things are? Fundy's do this all the time . . . evolution leads to the Holocaust, feminism leads to lesbianism, homosexuality leads to pedophilia and bestiality . . . maybe the difference to Fundy's is that they are "predicting" and projecting, rather than explaining--so to the rational mind it is less objective and therefore NOT elitist . . .yeah I don't get the "logic" either, but I digress. I said all that to say if you found my last post on this topic elitist, and if by elitist you mean intelligent; then thanks for the compliment and you're probably going to have a problem with this post too. :)

The first myth that must be tackled is of course the inerrancy of scripture. As that same assumption kind of stretches over the course of the argument, I won't go into great detail here. But . . . Fundy's have no problem accepting that while their pastor or evangelist may be "inspired and anointed" they do not teach that he is infallible. This is one of the issues Fundy's have with Catholics--no man is "infalliable"; however Fundy's will not only swear that the bible was actually written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, and the rest (here on Gilligan's Isle :) ) but that the words they wrote were the inerrant word of G-d. Their explanation on the difference between the Pope, their pastor, latest evangelist and the writers of the bible, is that "It is the Word of G-d"; therefore it is the "word" that is inerrant, not the authors. Bull Shit--that doesn't hold water; because then they have issue (one of MANY) with the Koran and Islam because it claims that Muhammad was just a tool of Allah and the words were direct from Allah THROUGH his prophet. So which is it?? It seems that as with graven images, Christians are wanting it both ways. Now when you look at it, it doesn't make sense, so they have to come up with a story . . . tuck yourself in, here it comes . . ."The bible is the "word" of G-d that he "whispered", "led", "told" "poured out" or some other active communication on/with actual men; who then interpreted the word and wrote it down. So it is somewhere between the authors being mere channelers or conduits and actually being inerrant themselves. HUH?? :) To me it would be (and has been) SO much simpler to just say . . . "these books were the author's interpretation and attempt to convey a spiritual message in the words and paradigm of their day." Now take a breath, read that sentence again . . . "these books were the author's interpretation and attempt to convey a spiritual message in the words and paradigm of their day." . . . now take a deeper breath . . . doesn't that just FEEL better on the inside; your heart and your mind are relaxed aren't they? It makes more sense, it feels more right. Why??, because it is logical and doesn't take a suspension of intelligence to believe; and yet it obviously doesn't undermine the spiritual truth or message as it is presented.

So this bible inerrancy is where the propensity for myth starts, but it extends. I have three main (maybe 4) areas: Old Testament (hereafter referred as the Hebrew Scriptures--HS); the New Testament (hereafter referred to as the Christian Scriptures--CS); and American "history". (The fourth is more of an overall cultural aspect, but it may be contained in the passages of the other three (as with biblical inerrancy).

I'll start at the beginning: HEBREW SCRIPTURES

The propensity for myth runs real deep here. Many Fundy's (as I was) see themselves as the natural extension of the HS. This is where the myth comes in; Fundy's, for whatever reason, like the "idea" of Jesus, but mostly just three parts: 1> birth (Christmas), 2> death (yes, despite what Fundy's say, the death of Christ is much more interesting to them--don't believe me?, go see The Passion of the Christ or ANY local passion play--and think about it, the symbol of Christianity is the CROSS-the vehicle for death; if it was more about the resurrection, the symbol would be a rolled stone or an empty tomb), and 3> REVELATION (the picture of Jesus on a white horse riding in with a drawn sword to smite Satan amd judge sinners; is one Fundy's can really get behind). Less appreciated are the teachings/philosophy of Jesus, except when needed; i.e. getting over a recent bought with sickness, sin, death or financial difficulty; or as a cudgel to judge someone else for lack of faith, etc. Fundy's much prefer the black/white writings of Paul. SIDE NOTE: Good old Paul he makes things so nice: faith not works . . . check; no homosexuality . . . check; if Christ didn't die; this is all in vain . . . check. So it is no wonder that Fundy's prefer the drama of the HS. You get real manly stuff here (even Paul kept having to hide or submit, and Jesus had the worrisome "turn the other cheek" thing). The HS is even more direct than Paul, and you get wrath followed by judgement followed by wicked battle scenes and death and more judgement.

Because Fundy religion strives to do away with myth and the mystical, they have no culture of their own; they stand on the shoulders of giants, and pretend they stand on their own. So there is a very real need to be a part of something larger. Fundy's fulfill that need by tying directly into the HS. They see a natural continuation, much like the way a boy will play baseball and see himself as the heir to A.Rod, Mark McGuire, Hank Aaron, etc . . . Fundy's steep themselves in the stories of the HS. Only problem is they view it with the same lens as the CS. They view it as the continued, connected writings of a movement. With the CS, it is much easier to get away with that; the writings are generally about one movement. The CS was written roughly over the course of relatively short period of time. The authors of the CS did all experience similar situations, lifestyles and paradigms (thanks in part to the Roman Empire). However, to do that with the HS is not only academically irresponsible; it is the equivalent of reading Shakespeare, Nostradamus, the Napoleonic Code, and Charles Dickens and assuming ALL these authors approached life in a similar fashion, ALL these writings are of equal and constantly relevant value, and that ALL of these works share a common message. PREPOSTEROUS! And lets also mention the fact that the HS started out as an oral tradition passed around fires of tribes of nomads in the desert; that the literacy rate was nil; that the concept of G-d in the time of Abraham was VASTLY (I'm talking Hindu to Buddhism) different from the G-d of Moses, and VASTLY (again . . .Catholicism to Mormonism) different from the G-d of David. Not to mention the changes in humanity: human development, human history, human awareness, human government, human concept of community and self. Yet, Fundy's (and I was one of them) like to just wrap everything up with a neat bow--and then ad that they (Fundy's) are the actual spiritual heirs of all this. A large part of John Hagee and other Fundy's fascination with Israel is derived from Revelations and the concept I just described above. Fundy's see themselves as the descendants of the HS. I mean at least the Mormons have the common sense to claim a (by the way completely disproved) biological/genetic connection to the "lost tribes". Fundy's don't even do that! They get the luxury of "spiritual heredity". In the words of Dana Carvey's The Church Lady, "Well, Isn't That Special!"

Again, this is done because Fundy's, like EVERY other human group have a need to belong to something. They have outlawed and excised all mystery, so the human mind will substitute where it can . . . Nature will always find a way.

I think I can stop my argument here without further examples--I might do a separate post (Part 1A) where I just explore some specific examples.
I'd love some good comments on the blog, where readers offer examples/analysis of this propensity for myth as it relates to HS.
For the Propensity For Myth Intro, click here

Monday, April 21, 2008

What We Need To Change!

Obama's latest response to the Clinton Kitchen Sink.

Click here for more info or to donate.

Here is the video!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Looking at the Black Vote in the South

Why is it that the larger and more Democratic the black population of a state the more likely the whites were to vote for Bush in 2000 and 2004 and what does that mean for Obama? Part of it is the Bush/War issue; part of it is institutionalized racism; and part of it is economic.
However, this is not the first time allusions have been made to the fact that the Black vote will not be all that influential--because they already vote high in numbers in the Presidential election. I disagree with that assumption.
African-americans may vote in relatively high numbers already--However, according to the US Census about 64% of AA's are registered; while about 56% voted in 11/2004. That means if just 3-5% of those registered will now vote; and 3-5% of those that were not registered get registered and then vote--we could see an increase in the African-American vote by 8-10% (on the conservative side) which I am sure will happen if Obama is at the top of the ticket. If there is that much incentive for blacks to get the vote out in much higher percentages in random elections--how much more of an incentive will there be to elect the first African-American president.
Will it be enough to carry the day--not sure--depends on how monolithic they vote--but I don't think you can just write off the black vote because they already vote anyway. I think that is a "misunderestimation" (thanks W!) :)
Obama's coattails will likely be long enough to help carry Dems where there is a) a significant African-american population and b) Reps and Dems are within 10% of each other.

Feel free to disagree with me, and Obama--that doesn't make you a racist by any means--but the argument being made about Obama being "cocky or show-offy or elitist" does border that ground of thinking certain people should "stay in their place".
Obama has been more open and honest and humble than many politicians. And, finally, if we really want to talk about arrogance and cockiness look at the current resident of 1600 PA Ave and his "dark lord" their arrogance and contempt for the American people has grown over the past 8 years so much that even with record low approval ratings they are still clinging to some fictional mandate.

. . . And Nero Fiddled While Rome Burned.

I recently finished listening to former Secretary of the
Treasury, Paul O’Neil’s book, Price of Loyalty. While
I am quite sure that his book is from his point of
view (which is really all we can ever expect from one
another), I felt it must at least be a credible
viewpoint. As I was listening to it I was amazed at
the candor about the way within the Oval Office.
The whole book kept bringing to mind a story, just on
the outside of my mental grasp, and I couldn’t quite
reach it. Throughout the book I felt a sense of de’ja
vu’. What was it? What other tome had I read that
was brought to my subconscious mind? Then it hit me!
When Mr. O’Neil was describing the endless hope placed
upon President Bush, only to be disappointed; and when
he described many times how he thought “he had finally
gotten through” to the President; it hit me. I knew
what it reminded me of, and I was shocked at how neat
it fit in to my assessment of this administration.
I have been saying to anyone who will listen, and
writing it in e-mails and letters to “cyber-editors”,
that this administration, more than any other, reminds
me of the rise of Julius Caesar. The popular glory,
the disdain of the body politic, the repression of
opposition, the overwhelming power in the image of the
person, and the seemingly “patriotic” attempt to curry
favor, and institute a “benign” dictatorship. All of
this in history that led to the decline and fall of
the Roman REPUBLIC, is where I saw America today.
Then along came Mr. O’Neil’s book, and my mental,
subconscious comparison to another book I had read.
The book was written by Paul L. Maier, a Christian
author who wrote a couple of books based on real
times, places and events, but fleshed out with
creative writing. The book I was thinking of was The
Flames of Rome
. In it Maier describes the rise and
fall of Tiberius Claudius Germanicus Nero Caesar.
One of the most startling things about this book is
how it details the Philosopher Seneca’s attempt to
persuade, influence and cajole Nero into being the
“Enlightened Despot”. Over and over in the story
Seneca and his compatriots: Africanus Burris (Leader
of the Praetorian Guard) and Flavius Sabinus (Mayor of
Rome), meet together to educate the young emperor and
control events to help Nero see the way of good
government. However, over and over, they were faced
with complete disappointment as Nero continued to give
into his base self. Over and over again, Nero shunned
intellectualism, education and advice in order to
follow his own reckless plans for Rome. No matter how
the unofficial Triumvirate tried, Nero continued to
want his way, only his way, and wanted everyone around him to
want his way.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, Nero brought on
advisors akin to his philosophy of self, and one by
one the voice of reason was snuffed out. This was
especially true when Ofonius Tigellinus was appointed
as the replacement commander of the Praetorian Guard.
At this point there was no holding Nero back, no
reigning him in. Tigellinus held all sway, all
affection, all trust and all power. He blocked the
presence of Nero from those who would dissuade him
against his own selfish wishes, and against those who
might bring reason or an opposing view to his
decisions. Instead, Tigellinus encouraged Nero at
every turn, and used the favor of the unstable Caesar
as license to govern Rome as he pleased.
This went on through the summer of AD/CE 64. That
summer though, Rome entered one of the most
catastrophic events in its history; The Great Fire.
This disaster was felt in one way or another by
I do not have to go on with my recollection of
Maier’s story. I do not have to describe why O’Neil
described Cheney as instituting a “Praetorian guard”
around the President. I do not have to make obvious
the comparisons between America and Rome, between
September 11 and The Great Fire, and between Rome’s
bullying foreign policy and our own. What I do have
to say, what I am compelled to put down in writing is
the simple fact, “It starts with one.”
No one grows up wanting to be a tyrant, children are
not born knowing how to hate, no one thought
preserving the mass appeal of Julius Caeser would lead
to the death of the republic, no one thought the new
German Chancellor in the 1930’s would become HITLER,
the Satan of the 20th century. But, it starts with
It starts with one man with enough ideology and not
enough reason. It starts with one man consumed by
purpose, but not responsibility. It starts with one
man who welcomes the glory of the masses, and upon
their entertained backs he builds his dominance. It
starts with one man, who by a sheer cult of
personality and entourage of like-minded fellows
convinces a nation he is the most popular leader in
their time, despite obvious evidence otherwise.
And yet it also starts with one who will not be
silent, who opposes the Laurel Crown of Empire, who
refuses to hail the conquering hero. It starts with
one, one who is appalled, and voices his disdain of
the man who fiddles while Rome burns. It starts with
one; one person, one voice, one cause, one movement,
one nation, one people, but it must start with one!