Saturday, March 28, 2009

Jesus, Yeshua and Isa

OK-I'm going to start my series on the Inaugural Speech. However I think I need to start with Rick Warren's prayer. While I had misgivings on Rick Warren being involved-I shouldn't have been, because nothing did more to showcase Warren "overiratedness" or lack of relevancy like his performance at the Inauguration. The prayer was boring and so loaded with cheese, my cholesterol jumped up. His vision and theme were sappy and had the whole "Baptist-fake" sheen.
For example, the way he pronounced the Obama girls named (yes, Jon Stewart made a similar observation) but he was obviously trying to show off his coolness and "acceptance" of their "ethnic" names so he said them the way white people who try to hard-he over-pronounces. My mom does it ALL the time. Its not real, I don't care what anyone says or what his intentions were-its fake--which is my biggest problem with religion and religious people-they (and I when I was a kool-aid drinker) think the intentions are paramount-even over the actions, or consequences or being real. -This will OBVIOUSLY have to be another blog post now . . . :)
However, the biggest thing I took away from Rick Warren's prayer was the misguided, fake-ass attempt to be multi-cultural. When he ended his prayer he said he prayed it in the name of the one who had changed his life-Yeshua, Isa, the son of God, Jesus. Well this is only inclusive to right-wing evangelicals-whose ignorance of Christology, theology and other religions is an open sore. Just using the Hebrew and Arabic pronunciations of Jesus is simply the equivalent of saying "Hey-soos" in Spanish speaking countries. Yeshua is NOT at all recognized in Judaism (outside of the man who led the army around Jericho) and while Isa is Jesus in Islam-the approach and understanding is not the same. Using the other versions of Jesus doesn't reach out to other believers. There were not Jews and Muslims sitting on their sofa going "Oh, I'm so glad he used our language, now I know who he is praying to. That is how I pray too.". That is the worst case of being "just smart enough to be ignorant.". Jews and Muslims don't pray to Jesus, Yeshua or Isa-at all. In fact both are MUCH stricter than Christianity in termsw of monotheism. There is no trinity in Islam or Judaism. They don't believe or pray the same way as Christians, but with an accent. The only thing sadder than that ending to that prayer is how many Chistians didn't pick-up on how ignorant it really was and how many of them felt it was magnanimous and inclusive and cosmopolitan for him to reach out that way. . .

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Big Love and Gay Marriage

It seems to me that perhaps the non-compound, non-extreme, still-practicing mormons and gays and lesbians seeking legitimazation through marriage should hook-up. If the "normal" polygamists who have multiple but equal marriages between consenting adults and homosexuals who want something similar can "come out" and show their normalcy and how they are from opposite ends of the political spectrum, yet can come together--maybe both can advance their cause and image.

Of course, this sounds a bit "Kum Bah Ya" even for me. I personally think polygamy among equals is more of a fairy tale than Britney's comeback; and I think polygamy among unequals-even if not underage-is a greater threat to the sanctity and legitimacy of marrige than two loving gays or lesbians.

Big Love

Ironically I have fallen in love with the HBO series-Big Love. The premise is a devout yet "secular" Mormon family in Utah that still upholds the tenets of polygamy. This family, the Henricksons spans the gap between the FLDS and their "Amish-wear" and compounds and the main-stream "Apple Pie" Mormons of suburban Salt Lake City. It is not just the intriguing premise, the excellent acting or the amazing writing, directing and production. All those things this series has in spades as well. It is also the underlying values. The unassuming way-almost "pilgrim-like" approach to religion. The plea of "We know you don't agree, just give us the space to believe different from you.". It is enticing and fresh-NOT that I am interested in converting to the followers of Moroni and the debatable Joseph Smith, NOR am I interested in acquiring more than one wife-Sephania is ALL I want or need. Rather it is the "pilgrim-like", unassuming approach I mentioned before. There is something breath-taking and refreshing in it. Something that is all to absent in the current flavors of right-wing fundamental evangelical Christianity. I think it is humility-and the reason it rings so true-is that no other message was at the message of Jesus's philosophy. Not that the individual beliefs are to my taste-but the humble approach is long missing from Christianity-and "approach" is one of the biggest characteristics of the original Jesus-brand that I know.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Second Look at The Jefferson Bible

The Jefferson Bible is the common name for a piece of work our 3rd President compiled and edited. What is unique about this work is that it was wholly created by Jefferson literally taking a knife and cutting out passages from one of his bibles. It is limited to the 4 traditional "Gospels". What Jefferson did was to remove any "mythology" from the Jesus story. Any miraculous or Virgin Birth, no angels, no miracles and (most important to Jefferson) no claims to deity. What was left was a collection of the words, teaching and parables of Jesus.

Jefferson did not do this because he was anti-Jesus. In fact his work and Jefferson himself were very positive about Christ. Instead, he felt Jesus had been co-opted or hijacked from its original intent. In Jefferson's mind he was restoring Jesus and Jesus's original message. Jefferson was very anti-clergy or anti-religious. He felt that many/much of the teachings of Christianity were not inherited from Jesus himslef and many not even in the Bible.
What Jefferson was intending was to remove the "hocus pocus" or magical ingredients and expose the teachings of Jesus to reason and rational thought.
What is sad, and yet understated, is when we do this-not only are we more aware of Christ's expectations, but we also see how different his words were from the beliefs of his followers.
As Gandhi said: "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. They are nothing like your Christ."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

On Lupe Fiasco and Cousin Lynn's Comment

My cousin, Lynn, made the following comment on my blog concerning Lupe Fiasco--I have some comments for her comment myslef--I'll make them after her's . . .

"I too love Lupe Fiaso and his music. Check out him and Jill Scott in Daydreamin' one of my all time fav's.
I have agreed with you and proclaimed my frustration in the church and the way they have capitalized religion.
I have agreed with you and proclaimed my frustration with Christians who only go to church so they don't have to be Christians everyday.
I have stated that I am not religious but instead spiritual in nature, trying everyday to break down the barriers that lead men who claim to be ruled by a teaching of love to kill in the name of doctrine.
However....I am a follower of Christ. I believe all of the differences from one Christian church to the other to be minutia. They all believe in Christ and that is the important part. Are they perfect, absolutely not. I believe everyone has the right to accept whatever religion they want, Christian or not, but I, in no way, would support or declare another religion as something that I was proud of or agreed with. I can agree to disagree with people and allow them to say what they will, but I will not be proclaiming what I do not believe in. Do not allow your voice to be used for something you do not believe in. By posting this video you, in essence, are proclaiming that you agree with him and that Mohammed is the equivalent to Jesus or the true prophet of God.
I can not agree with you on this one."

Obviously, the part where we digress is witnessed by her own transition "however". Cousin Lynn is under the assumption or presumption that my posting of Lupe's Muhammed Walks somehow constitutes my "witnessing" or "proclaiming" a Muslim message. More importantly, she assumes I would (or perhaps should) have a problem with that.

Since Cousin Lynn is a faithful follower of this blog--I feel rude not directing this to her--not to single her out; but in an attempt to not be rude; or so as not to feel as though I am talking behind her back instead of to her face. That being said--I will henceforth direct this to her . . .

Lynn--the assumptions/presumptions laid out earlier get to the heart of your issue. You state that I alleged that I "support or declare another religion as something that I was proud of or agreed with". I did no such thing. In the original post I said I was a fan of Lupe and that this song was "smart and good". I did not issue a testament to the tenets of Islam; and if saying something is good is the same as saying I am proud of it--then there is a chasm of difference in our understanding. Likewise, declaring something as "smart" is not limited to Christian themed or secular themed material, art or media. I assume (yes I know it is dangerous to assume) that you have no issue with his other work--as you yourself even recommended his music in your opening comment. Therefore, is the issue JUST that the song I chose was about Muhammed? It doesn't change his beliefs (anymore than it changes my beliefs) to post it. It doesn't make the song go away or not exist--so I don't quite comprehend how posting it is a declaration or promotion of Islamic values or beliefs.

Secondly, implied or inherrant in your comment is that I should see something wrong with Lupe's beliefs or with my posting the song. I do not. I believe what we have in common is greater than what divides us. I know you fervently defend the right of everyone to believe what they want to believe; you have no objection to Lupe choosing to be Islam--indeed, you state such in your comment. Your only issue is that I posted said song. But I ask you--why is it offensive. If America gives us the right to think, believe and express whatever we choose personally; is not the logical consequence listening to each others beliefs? Listening to someone else doesn't mean I am brainwashed into their thinking--instead it means often that I have a clearer understanding of my own beliefs--BECAUSE they are exposed to other beliefs and challenges. Faith that cannot be exposed to other beliefs or review is not faith worth having. Your passioned defense of Rick Warren's presence at the Inauguration was one of the voices that caused me to self-reflect and review my own critiques. (see here) Is that fairness of opinion only reserved for Christian beliefs?

Finally, and this is the crux, I have nothing against my fellow humans. I find there is some peace and truth in the teachings of Muhammed. I find solace in the wisdom of the Jews. I appreciate the symbolism and learnings of Shiva and Hinduism; I can learn from Jainism, Buddhism and Taoism. And yes, I can and do look for guidance in the teachings of Jesus Christ as well as Darwin or Marx or Jefferson or Ghandi or Lincoln (all 6 were "non-traditional believers"). In fact, Lupe remade/released that song to show what we had in common. After listening to Kanye's Jesus Walks, he thought "Hey we believe Jesus was a prophet too. Lets highlight what we have in common." (listen to interview here - segment 1 has the interview--and scroll down near the bottom for the extended interview) His understanding or worldview is not the same as mine, but neither is yours; but I can appreciate his sincerity. I can appreciate his attempt to show that Islam and Christianity share a same G-d; share many of the same teachings; and many of the same people. I have no problem with anything he said in the lyrics (click for full lyrics)

"For we all are sinners

Bless us to be among the winners

When it ends

But until then please strengthen the mission within our hearts

All praise is due to God"


Comments on The Fireside Chats

OK--I have gone back and listened to the Fireside Chats. I must say-this man knows messaging. He has been driving home the same message since the election. Economy is on the forefront and he has been urging Congress (along with former President Bush) to act and pass some stimulus since 11/15/2008.

Eerily prescient he stated the need and purpose of such an act. I wonder . . . had President Bush gotten off his ideological train; even towards the end--what could have been done during the meantime.

Ultimately, it is THIS that makes bad presidents--the inability to act, to be effective, to protect the people who elected them, to fulfill their charge to leave this union in a better state than when they found out. This is why Buchanan is so despised, and ill-rated by historians and dis-remembered by the populace. As the union was shattering around him, he did nothing. He allowed more and more states to rip the nation apart; gather arms; sieze ammunition and forts; cement cooperation and suppress opposition. His inability and decision to do nothing is not tolerated by Americans-whose national creed is built on action (perhaps not always the correct action, but action nonetheless).

Lincoln wasn't perfect and learned while on the job. FDR made several mistakes and corrections while implementing the New Deal. But it is lack of action that Americans hold in highest disregard. Our former President forfeited his legacy and trust when the economy went south through much of 2008. He abdicated his position and authority when he did nothing as the economy collapsed around him in September. He abandoned the American people and turned them over the fates after the election. Preferring to hold to a hypocritical and stubborn idealogy; rather than dealing with the reality. His reputation with his base was more important than the economy; than the lives of all Ameicans. THIS is why Bush will be judged as inept; this is why history will not be kind; this is why the American people should feel betrayed.

Thankfully, we as a people, have again elected a man "for such a time as this". We are in better hands because not only does our President ACT, and not only is he pragmatic and not ideological; but he is smart. Plain old intelligence and competence will hopefully NEVER be underrated or underappreciated in America again!

The Inaugural Address

The video and text below:

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many.

They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I LOVE Lupe Fiasco

I am a HUGE fan of Lupe Fiasco. This is his rendition of Kanye's "Jesus Walks", entitled "Muhammed Walks". Its really good and smart. Kanye's original is below.

Muhammed Walks

Jesus Walks

Friday, January 2, 2009

Devil and Daniel Mouse

OK--I have looked for this show for years. I used to watch it when I was a child on Halloween. Until one day my fundy parents either became aware I was watching it; or had recently been indoctrinated into thinking it was bad.

Anyway--here it is in 3 parts.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone!

This is going to be a great new year! After a wonderful Advent and Christmas season, with lots of personal growth--I am ready for exciting things both personally and professionally in this new year.

I wish you all the good luck black-eyed peas and collard greens can bring you.

2009--Bring it on!