Monday, August 25, 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Focus on The Family's Rain Request--G-d as Biased Weatherman

Focus on the Family's newest web ad:

Is this really what Christians want to use G-d for?


PS--notice how he gets abortion and same-sex marriage in there as well.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sacrementables Blog Post on Bourbon Cowboy

Check out a GREAT post on Dave Dickerson's Bourbon Cowboy blog on Sacrementables--handy communion-to-go cups.


A MUST read!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Moses on the Mountain

I think this will turn into a longer more thought out post at another time. But for now I just wanted to point out that it was when Moses was on the mountain getting all the "religious" stuff that the people got involved in the orgy and idol worship. I also want to point out that this was after G-d had spoken to them to tell them he wanted to make them a nation of priests and they said "No we don't want G-d to talk directly to us. We want G-d to talk to Moses for us instead.". And then because their was no SPIRITUALITY they created their own tangible customs and religion. Meanwhile Moses is getting a lot of "jots and tittles" to make the ignorant and simple people happy--and they actually turn away from G-d.
Atheist, Agnostic, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jew or whatever--Not thinking, dogma, lack of self-reflection, ignorance and the absence of spirituality will lead us further from our mission, further from our better selves, further from who we could be.

I Am a Proud American Liberal

Check out this post in defense of liberalism.

Wayne Besen on

It is campaign season, once again, which means conservatives, will try to paint Democrats as "liberals," as if it were a dirty word. I, for one, am proud to be a liberal and believe we should stand up against these conservative smears.

One of the great fallacies in modern lore is that liberalism stands for nothing and liberals have no core beliefs. The right wing, from the Pope to the President, has impugned the left by unfairly portraying it as a valueless movement mired in moral relativism.

This could not be further from the truth. Indeed, the left is the backbone of freedom, the defender of personal liberty, the guarantor of free speech and religious worship and the nurturer of democratic movements across the globe. Far from believing in nothing, wherever liberal democratic values prevail, civilizations flourish and free people thrive.

The cornerstone of liberalism is the idea that each person is endowed with the precious gift of liberty and can freely choose his or her own path - for better or worse. We believe this is crucial to greater enlightenment, personal growth and ultimate fulfillment. It also offers the best opportunity for people to realize their dreams and achieve their spiritual promise.

Liberalism encourages exploration and education. It reveres science and celebrates the inquisitive mind. Indeed, liberal values are often superior to those held on the right, because they are tenaciously subjected to rigorous examination. Beliefs that are questioned and still prevail are the ones that stand the test of time.

Like conservatism, liberalism has very strong core principles. But unlike conservatism, liberalism is not afraid to question "the way it is." The fulcrum of this philosophy is that all ideas will be constantly examined, scrutinized, studied and debated. If new information emerges to counter the culture's prevailing values or understanding, it will be rightfully taken into account. Far from moral relativism, liberalism searches for the ultimate value in which to build a moral foundation: Truth.

Right wing movements across the globe often seem uninterested in truth if it contradicts their obdurate belief systems. Reality averse, they are woefully unable to adjust to new understandings, burgeoning ideas and cultural awakenings. For example, despite overwhelming evidence that women are the equals of men, they still can't drive or vote in some Muslim countries. In America, gay people are still treated as second-class citizens, even though mountains of science and empirical evidence suggest that homosexuality is as biologically ingrained as eye color or handedness.

Liberals believe in the power of "reason," while conservatives are often just plain reactionary. This is why the GOP is the party of the "southern strategy" and anti-gay subterfuge. Republican power is directly related to fertilizing fear and fomenting fanaticism.

Indeed, the great appeal of modern conservatism, or other forms of authoritarianism, is that people don't have to think for themselves. They can mentally "check out" of this world and place their worries in the hands of a commanding politician or a higher deity.

Modern conservatives are often discomfited by the complexities of life and demand answers to the world's many unanswerable questions. They arrogantly and disingenuously claim to have absolute truth, while liberalism boldly proclaims that it does not have such ubiquitous powers of understanding. Liberalism is for those who are unafraid to fully embrace the magnificent journey of life and tackle the great mysteries of our time.

If one looks at modern conservatism in the United States, it is easy to see that it is a movement of intellectual and spiritual atrophy. In the political realm, conservatives essentially call for judges who are "strict constructionists," which is shorthand for saying "the Constitution is a dead document."

What a monumentally ridiculous notion to put forth, that American jurisprudence has not evolved in more than two centuries! Do strict constructionists believe that women and African Americans should have their rights restricted because the nation's founders treated women as second-class citizens and owned slaves?

Likewise, modern conservatives have also rendered the Bible (or Koran) "dead documents." In conservative houses of worship, traditionalists put forth the untenable belief that holy books are literal. They call these books "God's Plan," as if the Creator hasn't had a new thought in a couple of thousand years.

Modern conservatives will claim that liberals are sacrilegious for holding such beliefs. To the contrary, liberals are often extraordinarily religious or spiritual people. However, they diverge with conservatives in that they believe the strongest faith is one that is subject to healthy skepticism and painstaking examination. In encouraging people to explore all faiths -- free of guilt, shame, coercion or fear -- liberalism also offers people the greatest number spiritual options.

Many of my columns deal with gay themes because equality for gay men and women is the civil rights issue of the new Millennium. However, gay rights mean nearly as much to heterosexuals as they do for homosexuals. The very peace and prosperity of nations can be easily predicted by looking at how they relate to their gay citizens.

If a country treats gay people with dignity and respect and offers them equality, it signals that the country bases its decisions on sound education, rationalism and science. This inevitably leads towards success in all spheres of life.

Countries that ostracize and penalize homosexuals tend to be superstitious, authoritarian and anti-intellectual. This almost uniformly leads to poverty, war, oppression and ultimately tyranny.

A cynic might argue that the United States is not as gay friendly as other countries, yet, it is the richest country in the world. True, but nearly all of America's cities and states that are centers of profit and creativity offer acceptance for homosexuals. States most hostile to gay people are relatively backwards, with lower levels of education and income. Places that offer acceptance signal that they are open-minded and looking towards the future. Locales that reject homosexuals indicate that they are stuck in the past -- at their own peril.

In essence, gay rights are the canary in the coal mine for freedom and prosperity. Unfortunately, the bird is hacking, signaling a period of increased oppression and a dangerous erosion of freedom. It is up to us to rescue this nation from the perilous path it is now on. It is time we proudly stand up for what we believe in. If we don't defend our values, our opponents will define them.

Progressive does not mean passive. Our compassion does not mean that we lack passion. Our respect for other beliefs does not signify that we don't hold strong beliefs of our own that we are willing to fight for. Indeed, our power comes from out ability to adjust to reality. We are secure in our values, yet humble enough to adapt if our viewpoints are proven obsolete. Wherever liberal democracy takes root, a strong and proud record of economic, moral, social and political achievement follows.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Spirituality vs. Religion

OK I realize when you read this many will be thinking they really understand the difference. When I was in church I heard this comparison many times. Even the fundy bumpersticker: "I'm not religious, I just love the Lord." plays to the comparison. Many churches, especially charismatic/non-denominational Evangelical churches have a lot of "pride" in their "anti-religious" stance. Even I will not claim to be an expert because I recognize I have to fight being dogmatic about my anti-religion, anti-church rhetoric.

All that being said, the difference doesn't come down to what you think you are. Many religious people espouse anti-religious sentiments while exhibiting Phariseeical traits and beliefs.

Spirituality comes down to self-reflection. It comes down to looking not just at what other people do, but what you do. Spirituality is living the beliefs others espouse, not necessarily because you "believe" them, but because they are just who you are, the way you live your life.

Perhaps the biggest difference is spirituality is totally NOT contingent on anyone else; not their beliefs, not their thoughts or feelings, not their approval or acknowledgement, not even neccessarily their knowledge. I am not one of these people who believes if you dod a good deed you should never mention it. I think there is a difference in talking about who you are and bragging. I don't think you should seek out opportunities to tell your good deeds, but if someone asks you or if it comes up, it is not a bad thing to acknowledge-but recognizing you are not doing it for that acknowledgement.

Perhaps it is that recognition that makes the difference. It is self-reflection that makes that recognition possible. It is critically important that you live the EXAMINED life. It is the only life worth living. Examine WHY you believe what you believe and do it HONESTLY. Examine WHY you do what you do and look at it HONESTLY.
If you go to church for the social aspect-just admit that. There should be nothing wrong, social interactions ARE important and a reason we go to church, temple, mosque, etc.
If you are a smart person just admit that, don't buy into the lie our society has created that being smart means being arrogant. If you are arrogant, work on that (I have to) but that doesn't mean you shouldn't ackowledge your intelligence.
WHY do I say all this in this post? Because it is those first steps of honesty that create a habit of honest self-reflection. And it is that honest self-reflection that can lead to real good being done, real love being shown, real spirituality and not religiosity. And with real spirituality built on honest self-reflection, goodness and love-we can truly change the world.

That was what Jesus and Buddha were really aiming for-stripping the religions away from their core message and purpose and changing the world. Think about it and . . . ACT.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Post Modern Religion

I am not sure if such a thing does, could or even should exist. But I think a bit of post-modern mindset would be beneficial for many Christians, as well as adherents of other faiths.

When I first began my quest, it was looking for something more, something different--could it be found in another denomination? then I looked into Catholicism, then I looked and researched other religions besides Christianity. Every religion has its good points, every religion has purposes and even redeeming qualities; and yes, every religion has ignorance, extremes and intolerance.

However, what I found most true is that every religion is really afraid or unwilling to look at itself critically or outside of itself. Religions seem hell-bent--no pun intended--wait yes I did. :) on doing the classic poor logic of using the word to define itself. What makes something logical or even "defined" is the ability to use outside validaters to justify or explain its existence. For example--when I was a child we had this "children's dictionary" which was especially known for definitions like this: "Bananas: Bananas are yellow. Monkeys like to eat bananas." Despite there being two sentences, there is no real definition. All too often, THIS is the approach religions take when justifying or defending their own theology.

The problem with that is the word itself cannot be used in the definition or it is not considered valid. Ask a fundy why they believe in literal creationism and they'll cite Bible verses. Ask a fundy why homosexuality is "wrong" and they'll say things about the depravity of society, and maybe even a "reprobate mind" and then they'll go back to citing Bible verses. In large part it is because the idea itself is not founded in any kind of real proof. It is based on traditions, feelings, ignorance and intolerance.

What I was or have been looking for is a religion that is unafraid to look at itself critically. Unafraid to have adherents sit on the same pews with different opinions. From my research this is much like the early church. Lots of different kinds of believers came and their commonality was a faith and belief in the teachings of Jesus. Different ideas and interpretations were discussed and debated. NOT that this was some philosophical dream; but rather America did not have the numbers, influence or history yet to effectively say "This is EXACTLY who we are." and not like they could afford to turn members away.

I don't see why their can't be one religion that celebrates this kind of approach. But perhaps that is counter to what religion is.

Speaking of--my next blog will be on spirituality vs. religion.