Political religion

Joy. Oh joy oh joy oh joy

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

It’s not bad enough that St. Louis in August is characterized by hot, muggy days, with lousy air quality.

It’s not bad enough that we’ve just had our first human case of West Nile Virus in the county, and that the dangerous tick alert is still ongoing.

It’s not terrible enough that the dog days of summer in St. Louis make you want to embrace the cat and kill the pooch.

No, no, it becomes worse.

The National Federation of Republican Assemblies is being hosted here, this upcoming weekend. The event’s tag line?

“Show me your Values”

I can just hear the opening statement now: This here meetin’ of the white trailer park trash of the south is now come together. Anyone around you not waving a cute, little American flag is a godless, commie, liberal, no good spy. Shoot ‘em.”

But wait…it gets even more worse…worser…whatever.

What are the ‘beliefs’ behind this organization?

That all political power and influence should flow from the grass roots upward.

That all human rights are granted by God, not government and that government exists primarily to protect the God-given rights of its citizens.

That the Constitution was written by wise men under the inspiration of God and that the original intent of the Founders is as valid and binding today as it was in their day.

That the Constitution was written to govern a moral and religious people and it is being destroyed by those who are neither.

That the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. That sacred right extends to all persons regardless of age or infirmity and also would not allow for euthanasia, assisted suicide, or public funding for any of these practices.

That the traditional family is the foundation and cornerstone of our society and we will oppose any attempt to undermine or redefine the family unit.

That the founders never intended to separate God from government but did intend to prevent government from establishing a single state religion or inhibiting the citizen’s right to the free exercise of religion in any setting, public or private.

That free market capitalism is the only economic system that creates the opportunities and incentives that will allow maximum productivity and prosperity for its citizens. It is the necessary partner of political freedom.

In the necessity of national sovereignty, we also consider it crucial to return to appropriate state sovereignty under the 10th amendment.

Yes, let’s forget separation of church and state. Tedious thing being tolerant, idna it?

Let’s forget the fact that the ‘traditional’ family in the country typically consists of a single or divorced parent, trying to raise kids with, or without help, from the spouse no longer living at home.

Let’s forget that capitalism and the ‘free market system’ has brought us Enron, big tobacco and drug companies, and health insurance that costs too much and covers too little.

Let’s also forget that most serial murders in this country are typically committed by Christians, so are most lynchings and beatings, and that no war has ever been caused by an atheist. In fact, I can’t think of one single negative act ever committed in the name of atheism in this country. So as the whole ‘moral’ thing goes, the religious suck at it.

But it’s in the principles that you see the real purpose behind such a group: it’s all about taxes and support for capitalism, and a Darwinian survival of the economic fittest that would bring down the house. Oh, and claiming our ‘god given right’ to beat the crap out of other countries. Well, other countries that have something we want, that is.

Such noble spirits. Such statements of openness and generosity. Why I feel like I’ve just walked into a cramped, dusty, and dark closet when I read sentiments such as these.

Makes me wonder about the Presidential candidates, though. They’ll allow themselves to be associated with racist, ignorant, self-serving po’dunks, like the people in NFRA, but they won’t answer questions from YouTube. I mean, no matter how many potential “Romney girls” or men in white hoods get thrown at the GOPers, it has to be better than lunch with Phyllis Schafly.

Yes, that’s the topping on this little overbaked cake: Phyllis Schafly is keynote speaker. Why, I feel like donning my apron and running right on down, if My Man will let me. After all, I just love Phyllis, I really do; almost as much as Tom DeLay who is also attending.

Oh, rapture! And did you dig the cute little RINO hunter thing? I love it, I really do. The more groups like this shoot down moderate Republicans, the more Democrats win office. Hallelujah and pass the ammo!

You’d think that people in the Lou would have enough problems, what with the heat, the humidity, bugs, and smog — but Phyllis Schafly, Tom DeLay, tossed together with generous servings of self-interest, greed, bigotry, and the smallest minds found anywhere outside of the Shuars in Ecuador and Peru–well, it’s more than a people should be expected to bear.

The only redeeming thing about all of this? You all lost the Republican Party the Congressional vote in 2006, cupcakes. And you’re going to help the Party lose the Presidential race in 2008, too.

Legal, Laws, and Regs religion

Free will and religion

The Columbia Missourian has a thoughtful article on how the different religions in Missouri view Amendment 2. It’s timely, for me at least, because I needed to be reminded that religion does not automatically kill brain cells.

The St. Louis Post Post-Dispatch has an excellent article on the economic impact of not passing Amendment 2. Not only are we closing the doors to most stem cell research (including adult stem cell), it’s closing the doors to almost all biolife research in this state–primarily because any time someone wants to introduce a bill encouraging such, those opposed to embryonic stem cell research attack it, worried that in some small way the unrelated research might open a door for this activity.

Note in the article the reasons for Amendment 2: people like Rep. Lembke and state Senator Bartle, who spend all their time trying to pass legislation every year to criminalize embryonic stem cell research. Year after year, they try to push this through, and if they succeed, this means people such as Dr. Stephanie Watson can’t seek help for her daughter’s diabetes, even in another state, if such is based on embryonic stem cell research. To do so, would make her a felon. Oh excuse me, our beloved state representative and senator are thinking on not pushing this through as a felony–just making it one of extremely huge fines, which I’m sure that most Missourians can afford.

I got into a joke of a debate at Blogher with a person who is against such effort because of her religious beliefs. What she failed to explain is why it’s better to trash unused embryos left over from In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) than it is to use them for research that could possibly help find cures for Dr. Watson’s daughter’s diabetes, as well as Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s, or Matt Fickie’s congenital kidney disease. I am finding that the right to life people seem to be willing to kill off any number of living people in order to save one embryo–and this doesn’t make sense. Is it really life they value? Or is it the empowerment that comes from being able to exert control in a world, and on a world, where they feel increasingly powerless and threatened?

(PS Also see Marianne Richmond’s post at Blogher on this issue for another Missourian’s view. And another article on denominational views on Amendment 2. )

Books religion Writing

A story in parts

I’ve linked to 3 Quarks Daily before, and it has fast become one of my favorite sites. It’s up for a couple of different Koufax Awards: Best Group Weblog and Weblog Best Deserving of Wider Recognition. This quality site needs some votes, so take a few minutes and send an email with your vote for 3 Quarks Daily. In the meantime, check out the article on the melting of the polar ice, and the new beachfront property soon to be on sale in New Jersey.


Phil reviews the Brian Wilson album, “Smile”:

Smile would always have been a very strange album; now, it’s an extremely strange one. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very beautiful album and probably a great one. I’d recommend it almost without reservation to anyone seriously interested in music: you won’t have heard anything quite like it, and you won’t forget it when you have heard it.

I checked out the album in iTunes, and from the 30 second examples, it’s not what I expected from a Brian Wilson album. I wish it was available at eMusic.

Karl was a mite peeved about the new Red America weblog at I should say, old, new because the young man in question, a Ben someone or another, resigned after accusations of a) plagarism, b) making blatant racist statements, and c) accusing Coretta Scott King of being a commie.

I don’t follow the primarily political weblogs. Well, none other than Norm Jenson, but that’s because Norm has such a wicked sense of humor. Oh, and PZ Meyers, but that’s because we both like squid, and PZ is a terrific scientist…who also has a wicked sense of humor. Personally, I thought it was hilarious that the had to pick a 24 year old plagarizing racist in order to staff it’s “conservative” weblog. Seriously — there wasn’t anyone better?

I would have had more respect for Atrios, and Josh Marshall, and others of the liberal persuasion if they had focused on what’s important: global warming, lack of universal health care, a growing move to criminalize illegal immigrants, not to mention a certain set of events happening over in the Middle East. Which is, to say, the reason I never read political weblogs anymore.

Loren met a poet who gave him a poem about owls in the Nisqually. The next day, he found the owl in the Nisqually. What a wonderful bit of serendipity–a moment of absolute delight. Yet another reason why I’m moving back to the Northwest.

Don from Hands in the Dirt had a wonderful post on Jane Austin. In one paragraph, he captured her essence.

She didn’t write about the emerging empire or the social issues of the day, or politics. She wrote about families, about domestic life, about parents and children, about dreamers and hard-hearted social climbers. It was how she made sense of her world.

Don also mentions in his comments about …feeling much but with little to say. That’s how I’ve felt lately. Sometimes, you want to sit quietly in a seat and let life flow over you, like butter on an artichoke.

Melinda at Sour Duck did a terrific writeup of the panels she attended at SxSW. She also pointed to the podcast site for the sessions for those interested. Of the “Women and Visibility panel” she had this to write:

While the panel outline had wings, it could never get off the ground because men’s part in keeping women invisible was the elephant in the room no one wanted to acknolwedge. The penalties for bringing this point up are pretty obvious: you can be accused of hating men; of blaming others when really you should get off your own butt and just “make it happen” (the “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” argument that is so loved in America); you might even be accused of being a (man-hating) lesbian. (Oh wait. That’s already happened, despite the panel’s tippy-toey approach.)

In fact, the discussion progressed as if women were living in some vacuum completely sealed off from men. The irony, then, is that men as part of the problem of women’s visibility were completely invisible in that room. Instead, women were painted as the problem. All this had the cumulative effect of implying that women created their own difficulties. (For what? For kicks? As a hobby?)

I actually started writing a post on much of this that’s grown beyond being a weblog post and now I’m not sure what to do with it. At a minimum it’s a long essay; I’m even thinking of turning it into a book, but I’m already working on a book.

(Yes, I’m writing a new book for O’Reilly, working with my favorite editor, Simon St. Laurent. I’ll talk more on this when I reach the half way point. If I talk more on it now, I’ll jinx it.)

It’s interesting but I never noticed until recently how the people I read on a regular basis come from such different religious backgrounds. They (you) range from being atheist to Budhists to Jewish to Muslim to devoutly Christian, and variations inbetween. Oddly enough, I connect more with a person’s faith when they talk about every day things: taking care of their cats, their gardens, doing dishes, taking pictures of birds, delighting in Spring’s first rose. Sometimes I feel there’s a plate set at your tables, just for me — gives me hope that someday we’ll work this religion thing out.

Rob from UnSpace has been writing a story in parts: about his past, his Christian upbringing, and his reconciliation between his convervative faith with his friendship with Deb, a lesbian. I suggest starting in Part 1 and working forward.

In his next to last post he writes of being exposed to AIDS while working as a paramedic.

I had been a deacon for two terms in my church, and after the required year off, I wound up an elder. So it only seemed natural to get the church to pray for me. I asked the minister what the best way was to ask for that.

I’m still naive, no matter what I’ve seen as a medic, and I was no different then. The minister said something that, at the time was horrible. It’s still horrible, but he had to do it. He told me that I should not tell anyone in the church. He didn’t tell me why, and maybe if he had, it wouldn’t have hurt so much. At the time I thought that it was to avoid people fearing that I would expose them to HIV. That was part of it. But the minister also knew that people would suspect that I was gay. They would think the exposure a cover for a sinful hidden life. Whatever rejection would have come from fear of the disease would have been amplified a thousand times. I never thought of that aspect at the time. The idea that anyone might think I was gay never crossed my mind. If I were gay, I suspect I’d have noticed.

All I knew was that I was in fear for my life and my wife. My church expected me to be there for it, but it could not be there for me. I tried to be a good Christian soldier and accept it. I tried, but inside it ate at me. I was angry.

Rob reads my weblog and I read his, and we don’t always agree and I know I’ll never find God in the way Rob’s found God. But that doesn’t matter as long as there’s understanding, tolerance, and, perhaps most importantly, a sense of humor, and of humanity. Rob’s writing doesn’t seek to sell, to convince, to preach, to excuse, or to change. What he does provide, is insight. And it’s insight we need if we do seek to make this religion thing work out.

God is dead! — Neitzsche
Neitzsche is dead. — God