"What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizen will always vote
in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all. But what does happen is that he votes
his own self-interest as he sees it... which for the majority translates as 'Bread and Circuses'."
- Robert A. Heinlein

In Roman times, free Bread and Circuses entertained the masses. I hope you find your time
here both entertaining and informative.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Gospel According to Saint Bastard: Part One of a Series

Fact: Much of modern Christianity is build around concepts, themes and beliefs that are unsupported in Scripture, the Creeds, and the historic teachings of the Faith. I was born and raised in the Church, and while I try to pursue a vibrant faith and in no way have rejected my beliefs, I found that as an adult I began to question tangential teachings found in many churches, and have always tried to check them against Scripture. To people in my generation, I want to say that you have been lied to. People push “Christian” beliefs on us from the time we enter the church, and often we never question what authority figures say. The time has come to take our faith back from the followers of blind tradition and pursue a stripped down, genuine Christian faith unencumbered by useless teaching masquerading as orthodox theology. To the older members of the Church, I want to challenge you to stop passing along crap to the new believers. We only serve to invite disillusionment and rejection when we bundle personal preferences, denominational quibbles, and cultural memes in with the revitalizing, revolutionary faith in Jesus Christ. Stop lying to us!

Too often various beliefs are bundled in with Christianity that are not requisite to salvation or correct doctrine. If a particular belief is not strongly supported in Holy Writ, or is built around a particular interpretation of a few vague verses (ie: a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church, a overly literal interpretation of Revelations, the strict 24-hr. Creation, etc), then it cannot be held to be essential to Faith in Christ. Further, if a viewpoint has historically not been held by the orthodox Church, its validity is in question. For this we turn to the writings of the early Church Fathers, and the commonly accepted creeds.

I am beginning a series of short essays on this theme, analyzing and rejecting extraneous concepts that have culturally burdened Christianity. As appropriate to the month, my first topic, later this week, will be on why Jesus is NOT the "Reason for the Season."

Til then, for your enjoyment, the incomparable Eddie Izzard.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Update

Dear Friends,
I'm actually going to be maintaining this blog with a bit more regularity.
Accordingly, I wanted to get a better idea of my audience.

If you don't mind, please answer the following questions either by:
Email to me
Comment to this post

Questions:
1. How often do you visit?
2. Would you visit more often if there was more new content regularly?
3. Would you like to be notified when I have a new post?
4. Do you know me personally?

Thanks. Look for the first in a new series of posts in a couple of days.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Where they have burned books,they will end in burning human beings." Heinrich Heine



"For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.

"As good almost kill a man as kill a good book: who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were, in the eye.

"And though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play on the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?

"I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat." John Milton - 1644

You have all probably heard about the controversy over Sarah Palin's alleged attempt to ban books from the Wasilla Public Library when she first became mayor of that small Alaskan town. The McCain camp has repudiated the rumors, and the list of supposed books under consideration is a blatant hoax. However, there is some truth to the stories, and as we look towards the beginning of the annual Banned Books week, I wanted to turn to this topic for one example of why I don't feel comfortable voting for the Republican ticket this year.

Palin Asked Wasilla Librarian About Censoring Books

As the emerging story seems to indicate, Palin did not have certain books in mind when the topic came up. She asked the librarian, before she took office, how she would respond if Palin, the incoming mayor, asked her to remove books from the collection. The librarian replied that she would not agree to any such requests. Earlier that week, Palin had sent her a letter asking for her resignation, claiming that she felt the librarian would not be sufficiently supportive of the incoming administration.

The problem is not that Palin tried to ban books. She did not. The problem is not that she fired the librarian. She asked for the resignations of a number of other officials as well.

My problem with Palin is that she felt that by disagreeing with the censorship of books in an theoretical sense, the librarian was not being supportive; that she considers acquiescence to the request to ban books to be:
A: Reasonable
B: Requisite for being a supportive member of the city administration.

More than the theology of her home church, or her myopic God - Guns - Abortion political worldview, the idea that Palin is only comfortable governing with people who will not raise ethical objections to her demands, and one of those demands could conceivably include banning books, Sarah Palin scares me. John McCain is old, and having Sarah Palin one heartbeat from the presidency is troubling. To me, she's a sexy, female version of John Ashcroft, with his greek statuary breast concealing fetish. As a former student of a college where, allegedly, the school president fired the school librarian over similar book-banning issues, this conversation is disturbing. America does not need to be run by moral/intellectual thought police convinced they are doing the will of Jesus.

"Local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books ..."-- U.S. Supreme Court in Board of Education, Island Trees School District v. Pico (1982)

Remember, we're not talking about pulling books from a school library, where, conceivably, there may be some books that are not age-appropriate for an audience of minors. This is the PUBLIC library.

I want to thank Dr. Steven Hake for encouraging his literary students to read:
Candide (seized at one time or another by Customs and the US Post Office for obscenity)
One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich (banned in the US)
As well as other titles by Huxley, Hemingway, Hesse, and others that caused Fundie consternation.

For those who are interested, The Independent in the UK ran an excellent series, The Banned Books Series, every week for 25 weeks, starting with a free giveaway of A Clockwork Orange. I have 1-12, and am looking for the rest. It's a beautiful set.

"Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is a liberal education." - Alfred Whitney

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Us White Folks Have Our Crazy Pastors too.

The All White Elephant in the Room

This is what I've been saying ever since the Wright debacle hit the news and was seized upon by conservatives as a reason to distrust that "crazy black candidate." After it was proved we couldn't claim he was a Muslim, the religious white right has been using Obama's pastor's comments about AIDS and 9/11 to claim that he's a poor candidate. If we were to apply this argument evenly without regard to race, why have we supported candidates like Bush and other evangelicals, who have garnered the support of crazies like Falwell and Robertson. Oh, but our pastors are totally different from Obama's... These "shining lights" of the church in America didn't claim that the US gov't created AIDS or that 9/11 was chickens coming home to roost. No, they claimed that God Almighty himself created AIDs and that 9/11 was divine punishment for our toleration of abortion and homosexuality. Right, those arguments are totally different. It's one thing to claim that the all knowing, all powerful just God creates calamities to send upon the world to punish us for things we ourselves want to demonize and fight against (like THE GAYS), it's another to blame the foreign policy of America. This entire thing has devolved into a race-baiting tempest in a teapot that is disguising latent racism as a coherant, responsible political challenge to Obama's qualifications.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

We Call Upon the Author to Explain

I think I've finally found a song to rival U2's Wake Up Dead man to express a Psalmist sense of despair and questioning...



Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, from Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Don't Be a Schmuck, Don't Vote For Huck

Excerpted From Here:

1) Governor Huckabee did lasting damage to the Republican Party and conservative movement in Arkansas.
It's hard to go after Democrats with a conservative message when your Republican Governor is out front releasing violent criminals, providing state benefits to illegals, pushing tax increases, expanding government spending and programs, and constantly walking an ethical tight-rope (more on each of these items to follow). This tied our party's hands - many conservatives got frustrated, apathy set in, and some quit the fight.

2) Governor Huckabee's non-stop clemencies continually hindered the work of criminal prosecutors and miffed Republicans. The numbers are staggering - over 1,000 clemencies and commutations of criminals as governor. Most people now are familiar with his push to parole convicted rapist Wayne Dumond, who went on to rape and murder a Missouri woman less than a year after his release. But there are many more troubling facts regarding Huckabee’s pattern of releasing violent criminals. While I cannot speak for Huckabee’s motives, it seems clear that he used poor judgment and was reckless with this executive power.

3) Governor Huckabee's pattern was to ignore immigration laws, often in the name of Christianity.
Huckabee opposed immigration enforcement as governor on a number of fronts. Immigration enforcement groups call Huckabee’s record on immigration "a disaster" and reference him as they guy who "scares the heck" out of them.

4) Governor Huckabee was no friend to fiscal conservatives in Arkansas.
Huckabee’s record on taxes, government spending, and growing government programs was miserable. Basically, when the economy got tough, Huckabee expected families like mine to tighten our budgets in order to help state government meet its spending whims.

5) Huckabee left a long trail of ethics questions while Governor of Arkansas
This is an area where I think Huckabee does receive some unfair criticism. Some of the ethics charges against him were frivolous and politically motivated. However, it has been concerning for some time just how much the governor accepted in gifts and how he was seemingly always pushing ethical limits.

* During his tenure, Huckabee accepted 314 gifts valued overall at more than $150,000, according to documents filed with the Arkansas' Secretary of State office.
* The Huckabees set up wedding registries at local department stores as Mike was leaving office – even though they had been married for 30 years. State ethics laws prohibited Huckabee from receiving gifts of more than $100……but there was an exception for wedding gifts.
* Judicial Watch, a non-partisan group dedicted to fighting government corruption, listed Huckabee among their Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians of 2007. Huckabee was one of only three Republican politicians to make the list.

6) Huckabee's education record shows him to be an advocate of the "status quo"
The New Hampshire chapter of the National Education Association (NEA) has endorsed Hillary Clinton and Mike Huckabee for the upcoming Primary elections. This is the first time in memory that they have recommended a Republican (in 2004 they endorsed Howard Dean).

7) Huckabee has very little support for his Presidential bid here in Arkansas
For the most part those in his party who know him best are not supporting him.