Please, just shut the bleep up. You're not helping at all.
When I lived in New York City, I used to give money to a homeless man who stood on the same corner of Columbus Avenue every day, rain or shine. He was never pushy, he was always polite, and I just felt like giving him money. One day, I saw a man in a business suit getting right in this man’s face, waving a Bible at him and telling him he was a sinner and he had to accept Jesus and ask forgiveness for his sins. I walked up, gave the homeless man a five and said to the sidewalk preacher, "You know, Jesus would never do what you’re doing." I walked away quickly before he could hit me with his Bible. And I walked away feeling very sorry for Jesus. People keep doing things in his name that are so un-Christianlike.
Well, if I felt sorry for Jesus then, I feel like weeping for him now. Shouldn’t people like Pat Robertson just go start their own religion and leave Jesus out of it?
What do you think you're doing Pat Robertson?
Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested on-air that American operatives assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to stop his country from becoming "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."
"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," Robertson said Monday on the Christian Broadcast Network's The 700 Club.
Speaking in his native German, Benedict told the audience that during the conclave, or papal election, when it became clear he was getting many votes, a cardinal passed him a note reminding him what he had preached about Christ calling Peter to follow him even if he was reluctant to go.
Benedict, 78, said he hoped to spend his last years living quietly and peacefully.
"At a certain point, I prayed to God 'please don't do this to me,"' he recalled. "Evidently, this time He didn't listen to me."
There is a new pope.
It's Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
He's taken the name Benedict XVI.
Not that anybody cares but... my denomination [The Christian Church(Disciples of Christ)] yesterday determined a nominee for the office of general minister and president.
Addressing the General Board on Sunday morning, [nominee Sharon Watkins], a lifelong Disciple, began by talking about her formative years and her love for the church.
"We are a church whose time has come," Watkins said, "because in this day and age, authenticity speaks louder than authority in matters of faith."
"People would rather hear an authentic witness from a modern day doubting Thomas than have some ecclesial authority lay down the law," she said.
In her speech, she lifted up the denomination’s successes in starting new churches and addressing issues of racism.
Watkins, who has been the senior minister of Disciples Christian Church in Bartlesville, Okla. since 1997, sees congregational transformation as the "next big arena."
I'm betting the tone of the Conclave will be a little different than the lock-ins the church youth groups hold.
As I've said, I'm not Catholic but I do have a certain respect for the Papacy. As a protestant I suppose you could liken my feelings towards the Papacy to those of an American towards the English crown. You want to make sure that (in the words of Homer Simpson) "the King of England [can't] just walk in here any time he wants and start shoving you around" but you can recognize their power, influence and majesty.
May God guide the Cardinals in their selection of a new Pope.
Reboot, a Jewish youth organization just released the findings of a poll of Generation Y (Gen Y includes those born between 1980 and 2000 but the poll only polled those age 18-25) which focused on their feelings about faith and religion.
"The religious establishment is failing to connect with Generation Y, the most diverse and individualist group in American history," Bennett said. "iTunes, Tivo, and MoveOn have shown this generation that it is possible to bypass the 'middleman' and take control of their own experiences, whether it's a song list or politics. Religious institutions have to recognize this reality if they want to be more meaningful to them," he said.
According to the survey, many 18-to-25 year olds express their faith in informal ways that are either communal or individualistic, such as praying before meals (55%), talking with friends (38%), or reading religious magazines, books, and newspapers (33%).
While they enjoy "a genuine attachment to religious life," younger people are "more disconnected from traditional denominations than their older counterparts ... [and] favor more informal ways to practice their faith as opposed to attending services, classes, or formal activity," the report says.
The survey, however, reveals that young people who identify as highly religious (27%) tend to be more self-aware and significantly more connected to family and community.
"One of the most remarkable findings of the study is that on every measure, highly religious youth better understand themselves and their place in the community more than less religious youth," said the report's author, Anna Greenberg, vice president of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.
"The results send a clear message: Demand for meaning and community is there, but few in Gen Y are finding it in churches, mosques, or synagogues," Bennett said. "The question now is whether established institutions will adapt or innovate to meet this generation's particular spiritual needs."
--Reboot press release via Yahoo!
The poll itself can be downloaded here.
I'm not Catholic, but I am one of those people who have known only one Pope. He was Pope longer than I've been alive, he's been something of a fixture on the world stage. He's done a lot of good works in his time and it's sad to see a man of such faith pass.
"The general conditions and cardio-respiratory conditions of the Holy Father have further worsened. A gradual worsening arterial hypotension has been noted, and breathing has become shallow," the Vatican press office said.
"The clinical picture indicates cardio-circulatory and renal insufficiency. The biological parameters are notably compromised. The Holy Father, with visible participation, is joining the continual prayers of those assisting him."
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said earlier that the pope was in "very serious condition" Friday afternoon, but he is "lucid, fully conscious" and "very serene."
Navarro-Valls also said earlier that the pope's blood pressure was "unstable" and that he "... asked for the Holy Scriptures to be read to him."
Pope John Paul II isn't doing so well and has been given last rites.
I find that I can't actually pray for him to get better but rather just that God's will be done.
Terri Schiavo died today, 13 days after having her feeding tube removed.
I wonder how much longer the media circus lasts.
Diversity University Monochromatic Institute Lots of Race/Class Interaction Little Race/Class Interaction Diverse Student Population Homogeneous Student Population Students Ignore God on a Regular Basis Students Pray on a Regular Basis Gay Community Accepted Alternative Lifestyles Not An Alternative
Can somebody explain how students regularly ignoring God is a sign of diversity? Diversity is having a bunch of people worshipping or choosing not to worship however they wish, not having everybody ignore God. A campus where God is ignored is just as "monochromatic" as one where everybody worships the same god.
Someone is finally talking reasonably in the debate between intelligent design and evolution.
Many letters to the editor propose teaching ID and evolution and letting the students decide which to believe. Yet ID and evolution are not rival scientific ideas but answers to two different questions. ID asks who created our world; science asks how life has progressed on our planet.
There is no conflict in believing that an intelligent designer created our world and that evolution is the way life has progressed. Most scientists and science teachers I've met believe both. There is no conflict between maintaining a philosophical answer to one question and a scientific answer to a different question.
It makes it so much easier to find morons.
President George W. Bush and his supporters are supposed to be Christian. Yet, the reason I most often hear for supporting Bush's plan to privatize Social Security is this: People want to keep "their own" money. C'mon, folks. Have you forgotten the parable of the loaves and the fishes? When we share, there's plenty for everyone. When we hoard, there is never enough.First off, the "parable" of the loaves and fishes wasn't a parable. It was a miracle. It's called a miracle because those things don't happen in the normal course of events; they require God's intervention.
Secondly I'd suggest that the caller/writer refer to the "parable" of the Soviet Communism. It goes something like this: "When people are forced to share it would take a miracle for anybody to have enough."
Ended up buying a new Bible tonight, the ones I had just weren't cutting it. I came to find out there are a lot of things to consider when buying a Bible.
What translation did I want? KJV? NRSV? NIV? The Message?
I've got a couple NRSV Bibles so I was really looking for something a little more up-to-date and readable. My choice was pretty much between NIV and The Message.
What type did I want? Reference Bible? Study Bible? Student Bible? How big and thick did I want it to be?
The Bibles I have (I should point out that my 2 NRSVs are both the exact same edition, presented to me on the day of my baptism, one by my parents, the other by my church.) are really just pretty standard Bibles, no extensive footnotes or other explanations which I wanted out of the new Bible. The "The Message" Bibles were really all pretty standard, it's very readable, but it's not what I was looking for in the added features department. That left me with the NIV, and either a Study Bible or a Student Bible.
I also wanted one that wasn't very thick. I wasn't looking for a miniscule one, but I didn't want a big, honkin' one. It had to be portable. The NIV Student Bible came in at 1 1/4" while all the Study Bibles were 3-4 times that and I came to find that I just liked the notes in the Student Bible better.
And with that my search was over, I went with the NIV Student Bible.
(And as an added bonus, it is, as it was dubbed upon returning home, "styligious".)
Ramesh Ponnuru brings to light an article in The Amerian Prospect by former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. Reich's conclusion: People who believe in God are the greatest danger we face.
Now I disagree with much of what [Robert Reich] has to say, and consider it uncivil to describe advocates of prayer in public schools, a ban on abortions, and other policies Reich dislikes as "religious zealots." (I don't consider myself a religious zealot, although I support several of those policies, and support some of them zealously.) But none of this is especially outrageous or even noteworthy.
But then comes Reich's conclusion:
The great conflict of the 21st century will not be between the West and terrorism. Terrorism is a tactic, not a belief. The true battle will be between modern civilization and anti-modernists; between those who believe in the primacy of the individual and those who believe that human beings owe their allegiance and identity to a higher authority; between those who give priority to life in this world and those who believe that human life is mere preparation for an existence beyond life; between those who believe in science, reason, and logic and those who believe that truth is revealed through Scripture and religious dogma. Terrorism will disrupt and destroy lives. But terrorism itself is not the greatest danger we face.
This goes well beyond the common denunciation of "fundamentalism" where that term is meant to describe an ideology that seeks the imposition of religious views on non-believers. (That's what Andrew Sullivan means when he uses the term.) It is a denunciation — as a graver threat than terrorists — of people who believe that the world to come is more important than this world, or that all human beings owe their allegiance to God.
What can you say to that? It's so unbelievably off base.
'Under God' serves good secular cause
A nation should be under something. If not God, then some set of human values, of principles of human behavior that are bigger, even, than a Constitution. To acknowledge being under something is a good exercise in humility.
The "under God" phrase serves that idea, if imperfectly.
Is the phrase constitutional, given the Constitution's ban on "an establishment of religion?" When the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case challenging the "under God" language this month, most of the justices dodged the constitutional issues....
But Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said the phrase is constitutional. She said the phrase, far from establishing anything, is part of a custom of "ceremonial deism." Deism is a belief — held by some Founding Fathers — that a god created the world and its rules but does not get involved in its affairs. The term is sometimes used as a reference to minimalist religion, a belief in God with no other implications.
That formulation ought to comfort those who see any acceptance of a reference to God in government as a new inroad for the religious right, a path toward dominance by conservative Christians.
The O'Connor formulation points a way toward acceptance of the pledge — as is — that just about everybody ought to be able to live with.
Personally I wouldn't be opposed to taking "under God" out of the pledge simply on an argument of "let's be inclusive" or "let's not offend anyone", but if that does happen it should be a free choice, not something forced by the courts. If people want to remove it they should petition their Congressmen to change it rather than running to the courts.
I certainly don't think having it in the pledge is a breach of First Amendment rights. The First Amendment was put there to keep the government from establishing an official state religion like the Church of England and I don't see that having "under God" in the pledge does that. And even if one doesn't believe in a "God", nobody's forcing them to say those two words in the pledge, there's no reason they can't stand there with everyone else and just say "one nation......... indivisible, with liberty and justice for all".
Any court decision declaring it unconstitutional would, I believe, be a bad one. There's no Constitutional right to not be offended. I will however fully hold open the possibility of a reasoned debate leading to the conclusion that lawmakers should take it out.
75% of voters believe Jesus rose from the dead. 88% of self-identified Christians believe so. This one surprised me, 46% of non-Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead while 35% don't believe that.
Also surprising to me, only 85% of voters believe the historical figure known as Jesus walked the face of the earth.
49% of non-Christians believe Jesus was the son of God compared to 89% of Christians and 77% overall.
Overall, 70% of voters identified themselves as Christians.
Again, from Rasmussen.
1But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they went in, they did not find the body. 4While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. 5The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. 6Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ 8Then they remembered his words, 9and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.
You haven't truly seen the story of the Bible until you've seen it in Legos.
Beliefnet has an article laying out 7 ways Jews and Chritians misunderstand each other when it comes to "The Passion of the Christ".
1) Christ's suffering is important
The movie's violence brings many Christians into Jesus' world and helps show just how much he had to give up in order to give us the gift. In that sense, the violence is extremely spiritual.
2) Most of this really is in the Bible
It is quite possible that much of what’s in the Bible is not historically accurate but Jews need to understand that when they say that this basic plotline is anti-Semitic they are saying the New Testament itself is anti-Semitic and hateful.
3) Most Christians don’t even entertain the question of blame
Most Christians believe that Jesus went to his death willingly, so the identity of the killers is utterly irrelevant. Jews are sensitive to being blamed because they have been, but they also need to realize that most modern American Christians view that as a peculiar sideshow.
4) Christians feel persecuted
When Jews criticize the movie, they need to realize that, unless carefully worded, their complaints will feel like not merely theological disputes but personal insults and attacks.
1) Mel Gibson is terrifying
Christians need to understand just how scary a person Mel Gibson is to Jews. The comments from his father Hutton Gibson don’t represent ordinary country-club anti-Semitism but David Duke, neo-Nazi anti-Semitism.
2) This is not ancient history
Beliefnet member Shira writes, "My father could not go near a Catholic school around Easter because he knew he was going to get beaten up." It wasn’t until 1965 that the Catholic Church officially declared that the entire Jewish people were not guilty of deicide. Moreover, anti-Semitism is right now on the rise in Europe and the mideast.
3) Christian support of Israel is irrelevant
Obviously, supporting Israel does not give anyone a free pass to tolerate anti-Semitism in other realms. Besides, while most Jews delight in and appreciate Christian support for Israel they are also quite aware of their mixed motives.
People of different backgrounds really are seeing different movies when they walk into the theater.
For two hours, Christians watch their Savior tortured and killed. For the same two hours, Jews watch Jews arrange the killing and torture of the Christians' Savior.
It is essential that Christians understand this. Every Jew, secular, religious, assimilated, left-wing, right-wing, fears being killed because he is Jewish. This is the best-kept secret about Jews, who are widely perceived as inordinately secure and powerful. But it is the only universally held sentiment among Jews. After the Holocaust and with Islamic terrorists seeking to murder Jews today, this, too, is not paranoid.
However, what Jews need to understand is that most American Christians watching this film do not see "the Jews" as the villains in the passion story historically, let alone today. First, most American Christians -- Catholic and Protestant -- believe that a sinning humanity killed Jesus, not "the Jews." Second, they know that Christ's entire purpose was to come to this world and to be killed for humanity's sins. To the Christian, God made it happen, not the Jews or the Romans (the Book of Acts says precisely that). Third, a Christian who hates Jews today for what he believes some Jews did 2,000 years ago only reflects on the low moral, intellectual and religious state of that Christian. Imagine what Jews would think of a Jew who hated Egyptians after watching "The Ten Commandments," and you get an idea of how most Christians would regard a Christian who hated Jews after watching "The Passion."
Jews also need to understand another aspect of "The Passion" controversy. Just as Jews are responding to centuries of Christian anti-Semitism (virtually all of it in Europe), many Christians are responding to decades of Christian-bashing -- films and art mocking Christian symbols, a war on virtually any public Christian expression (from the death of the Christmas party to the moral identification of fundamentalist Christians with fundamentalist Muslims). Moreover, many Jewish groups and media people now attacking "The Passion" have a history of irresponsibly labeling conservative Christians anti-Semitic.
no matter what religious context you bring to the film, you will find that the critics who wrote or spoke of a festival of gore have misled you. This is not like the blood-thirsty movies that kill people left and right and seek for new and excruciating ways to titillate an audience. There is nothing here designed to promote a corpse-filled computer game.
In this movie, violence is shown as appalling, evil, vengeful, malicious. The moral context is never lost. The people in the film recoil from precisely the same actions that we recoil from. If some critics can't see the difference between this film and movies that delight in casual violence, they're in the wrong line of work.
The violence is not what makes us weep.
All my tears in this movie were shed in empathy for those who loved Jesus, and in gratitude for those who are shown attempting to be kind to him. I was moved by Pilate's wife, who knows what is right and tries to do the one small thing that is possible for her. I was moved by Mary's love for her son. I was moved by the epiphany that came to the reluctant cross-bearer, Simon of Cyrene; by the shame and empathy discovered by one of the soldiers -- the one required to pierce Jesus' body with a spear, but who can hardly bear to do it in front of his mother.
The woman who brings him water to drink at one of the stations of the cross; Pilate himself, caught in a terrible political situation where he has no good choice, but chooses his career over his integrity and makes the futile, empty gesture of washing his hands; the "good thief" (Francesco Cabras) who is promised paradise on the cross -- it was goodness, or the yearning for goodness, that brought tears to my eyes.
There is no competing record to refute the depiction in the gospels. So to say Gibson should not have shown Jewish leaders being the driving force behind the killing of Jesus is to say that Christians are not allowed to actually believe in or dramatize their own scripture.
There's a lot more good stuff there as always. He also ends with a letter to Mel Gibson that's worth a read concerning Card's suggestions for what to do with the profits and what to do when Oscar time rolls around next year.
It pulled in another $14 million yesterday for a two day total of over $41 million.
It’s an exceptional movie, but certainly not a pleasant one. There’s a lot of violence, but I was left with the feeling that what was on screen must have been what it was really like. Crucifixion was a horrible, painful practice and it just left me in awe that Jesus went through it for us and throughout it didn’t blame those who were killing him but rather asked God to forgive them.
I don't know what to say about the critics of the movie. I guess those seeing the movie from a non-Christian perspective must be seeing something different. When people come out of the theater "wanting to kick somebody's teeth in" or thinking the movie was supposed to but failed to make them feel pity for Christ I marvel that their ideas and preconceptions caused them to see such a different movie.
I left not understanding how people could see the movie as anti-Semitic. Sure, it shows some Jews calling for Christ’s death, but every protagonist in the story is also Jewish. It was the Jewish high priests that arrested him and called for his death and you’re not going to be able to make a movie about the last day of Christ’s life without that. The message that Jesus loved his persecutors and forgave them was so strong that I fail to see how people can walk out of the theater thinking that Jesus would want someone to blame His persecutors rather than forgive them.
It doesn’t tell the whole story of Jesus’ ministry, but it isn’t meant to. It’s not a movie meant to lay out His teachings, it’s a movie whose purpose is to reinforce for those who already know the story the sense of what Jesus suffered for our sakes. It’s not the complete story of Jesus and it’s not an introductory primer on Jesus’ life. For the target audience though, it is a breathtaking and heartrending reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice.
It's going to take me some time to decompress before I'll be able to string together a second word about it.
"The Passion of the Christ" drew in
$20 million $26.6 million on it's first day. I find it somehow reassuring that in today's modern world a biblical story with the biblical violence can still draw.
I won't be seeing it until this afternoon so I can't comment specifically about what's in the film but these lines in a Yahoo! News story caught my attention.
In Salt Lake City, curiosity about the film among many Mormons was outweighed by church teachings that discourage viewing R-rated movies.
"I don't think our Lord would want me to see an R-rated film about his son," said 20-year-old Shawn Watts, a Mormon missionary.
I'm sorry, but Jesus and the Disciples LIVED an NC-17 version of the actual events. Sure, the movie is violent, that's because the Crucifixion itself was violent. God saw fit to actually put Jesus and his Disciples through these events; I find it hard to imagine that God would find it sinful for people to watch it. Sure he preached a message of peace and love, but to pretend that his life and death was this Sunday School, well coifed, sanitized version of his life I think takes something away from the story. It's taught that he died for our sins, but he didn't just pass away peacefully in his sleep. Like thousands of people in Roman times he was beaten, whipped and tortured. He was attached to the cross with nails driven through his flesh and left to die. Of course this was violent. Of course this was bloody. But it's what happened. It’s what Jesus went through. It’s what Christians believe Jesus suffered to redeem our sins and a real depiction of what happened isn't going to be straight out of the storybooks from Sunday School.
RealPolitik has a pretty good take on the whole deal.
Not that anyone cares but I have started and scrapped nearly a half dozen ideas so far.
All of those ideas developed wonderfully except there was no real point to any of them. You either get it or you don't. Gibson wasn't attempting to convert the unconverted or tell those who believed anything they didn't already know...he was merely telling the story, he wasn't explaining it to you. That seems to be one of the hot button issues with most of the negative reviews. They seem to echo the High Priest's request for a sign of divinity, yet Gibson's Jesus never really delivers for them. Which leads us to the second most popular complaint, the blood.
It seems that most of the negative reviews seem utterly appalled at the violence in Passion. This while one such reviewer rated the hideous gore-fest at the end of Kill Bill Vol. I the best fight scene he'd ever seen. Others wondered why Christ wasn't shiny and holy looking and seemingly detached on the cross like in all the previous depictions they'd seen. Reading through the naysayers complaints about the gore severely juxtaposed with their fawnings over the "realism" in other films they'd reviewed. The accuracy of the sets, the perfection of the dialog and the realism of the scenes. One has to wonder what they think a human being who has been beaten, caned, flayed open, thrown in a dirty dungeon over night, beaten some more, marched through dusty streets straining and sweating, beaten some more, fallen in the dirt and stone, beaten some more and then literally nailed to some planks of wood looks like?
This morning I watched Deborah Norville's show that I Tivo'd last night. On the show a Rabbi was asked what he would have done differently if he were the one making the movie.
"It shouldn't have focused on one person." Violence is fine in films like Saving Private Ryan because there are so many people. The Passion shouldn't have just focused on the suffering of one person.
Go back and read that again, I'll wait...
He thinks Gibson shouldn't have focused on one person. He thinks the story of the death of God's only son shouldn't have focused so much on the man who was dying for everyone’s sins.
That just amazed me.
Roger Friedman had a piece at Fox News on Friday decrying the theaters "Passion" is opening in as "out-of-the-way-theatres", highlighting "black neigborhoods and poor neighborhoods" and "out of neighborhoods that are considered Jewish, upscale or liberal".
David Poland in turn rips Friedman's article a new one
Sometimes, a journalist makes a mistake. And sometimes, a journalist makes a mistake that is so heinous and easily remedied by any fact checking that the person's publisher deserves to be threatened with litigation and the person in question deserves to lose their job.
Such is the story with today's breathtakingly inaccurate and malicious fairy tale by Roger Friedman, printed at FoxNews.com regarding the release pattern of The Passion of The Christ. The premise of this unresearched mess is that Newmarket Films and Mel Gibson are avoiding big cities and Jewish populations with the theatrical release pattern of the film.
There has been no journalist who has been more critical of Gibson's self-fulfilling-prophecy style of showing this film selectively, building a furor when he is publicly claiming to be fearful that one will erupt, than myself. However, a major media outlet propagating false information in an attack on the film - especially when suggesting that it is news and not opinion - is beyond any acceptable idea of journalistic ethics.
Moreover, for Roger Friedman, a Jew, to so incautiously swing these lies around like a bag full of angry cats is, in my opinion, deeply damaging to Jews everywhere who do not wish to be accused of being willing to stoop to any depth in order to maintain our position in society.
I am not sure that Roger Friedman meant to put such a blatant factual lie in print. I am sure his editors would have stopped it had they known. But Friedman failed to do the most basic job of being a journalist… checking out the facts. Instead, he lazily went to one internet source, apparently unaware of two basic facts: 1. Ticket sales websites are not well designed for long-range presales. 2. There is no movie ticket sales website that offers tickets to all the theaters in any major market.
It took me all of two minutes to find out that Roger Friedman's facts were incorrect. I went to two web sites and made one phone call.
He then goes on to lay out how the release isn't nearly as selective as Friedman says, and how easy it would have been for him to find out.
Then Monday Friedman comes back with a "news story" with comments like "Gibson's personal liability on "The Passion" [is] roughly $50 million. That's a lot of money to prove a point. It's $40 million more than Rosie O'Donnell spent on her musical, "Taboo." "The Passion" is now the most expensive vanity production in history." Now it seems to me Gibson's "vanity production" is a much better deal than Rosie's, considering that I've never heard of "Taboo" in my life. He goes on to claim that Newmarket added new screens but were still avoiding upscale and Jewish areas.
Ironically, in this second article he manages to both misquote himself and rail against someone else for not correcting an incorrect column.
Poland in turn fires back with a column that refutes just about everything in Friedman's second column. It isn't the most costly vanity production ever. The screens Friedman says were added were added before his Friday column.
Gotta give Friedman credit though. I never thought I'd see someone live up to the high standards for crappy reporting upheld by Harley Sorensen.
As always, good stuff from Orson Scott Card.
Oh, those peace-loving, tolerant, open-minded French. Just when you start really looking up to them as the people who teach the world how to be civilized, they pull something like this law banning headscarves, yarmulkes, and large Christian crosses from school classrooms.
After all, as any atheist can tell you, religious belief causes all the evil in the world. So if we can just ban the display of religious symbols in the public schools, we can do a better job of civilizing the children, right?
Notice that crosses aren't banned altogether -- only big ones. And of course there's no Christian sect that actually requires the wearing of crosses -- it's just a fashion choice.
But for some Muslims and some Jews, the head scarf and the yarmulke are not a fashion choice, they're a fundamental expression of faith. To take them off -- especially at the orders of the state -- would be like spitting in the face of God.
And to demand that they do so is to establish secularism (and small-cross Christianity) as the state churches of France. Good-bye, religious freedom!
You'd think we'd had enough of people who want to force their religious beliefs on others. But no, as the French are proving, if you are really sure that your beliefs about religion are true and all others are silly or seditious, then it's OK to use the force of law to make other people do things your way.
What would you do if you lived in France under such a law? Supposing you were a Christian who didn't wear a cross anyway? Do you just shake your head and feel sorry for the Muslims and Jews?
The thing to remember is this: Repression of one religion -- even if it's one you despise -- opens the door to repression of all. And the most fanatical believers in the religion of Political Correctness are eager to use the power of the state to do to all conservative religions what the French are poised to do to orthodox Jews and Muslims.
Dean, whose wife is Jewish, said he had thought more about what it meant to be a Christian as he got older and was comfortable with the role of faith in his personal life.
He said a trip to Israel in December 2002, when he had already been to Iowa a couple of times looking into a possible presidential bid, had a particularly dramatic effect on him.
"If you know much about the Bible -- which I do -- to see and be in the place where Christ was and understand the intimate history of what was going on 2000 years ago is an exceptional experience," he said.
Asked to name his favorite book in the New Testament, Dean cited Job -- which is in the Old Testament -- because "it's such an allegory." More than an hour later, he came back to correct himself, telling reporters he had misspoken.
Yep, just about ready to graduate from seminary there isn't he?
That's it, just Merry Christmas... see ya later.
Brian Griffin of Cincinnati Blog has a post primarily bashing Fox News for not being fair and balanced but along the way he takes some awfully broad swipes at religion and public religious displays that I just can't help but comment on.
Now, first, it is not intolerant to keep religion out of public areas, that is a biased statement. It is intolerant when you feel the need to push your religion on others, just because they don't comply with your religious code.
I would argue that it is intolerant to keep religion out of public areas. The exclusion of religion from the public arena is simply taking another side in the religious debate. Putting up a big cross, nativity scene, menorah, Star of David or a giant Torah doesn't push your religion on others because they don't comply with that religious code. It doesn't say "join our religion and follow our beliefs or something bad will happen to you" it says "this is a symbol of what we hold dear and we want to share it." Opposing religious expression is as much a statement of religious beliefs as anything else.
Second, what is wrong with freedom from religion? Why should I have to have my tax dollars go toward anyone else's religion practices?
What is wrong with freedom from religion?
For starters it is essentially a government endorsement of atheism. When they government isn't even allowed to say "hey, these beliefs exist" it's really no better than saying "God doesn't exist" and the government that is not to endorse any religion is suddenly an atheistic government. And since Atheism is no less a belief system than any religion. Religions believe that there is a god. Atheism believes that there is no god. Both are systems of faith with no real proof to back up either argument.
Secondly a freedom from religion goes against the basic free speech tenets of the First Amendment. We have a right to free speech in this country. There is no right to not be offended. You don't have a right to go about your life without hearing about the religious beliefs of others. Lord knows I've heard plenty about Brian's anti-religious beliefs. Freedom from religion is a 180 degree turn from freedom of religion. Instead of saying that you have the right to hold whatever beliefs you want and to express them however you like it instead tells you that whatever you believe you are under no circumstances to express these views to anyone. It says "if you choose to believe there is a god you'd better be careful of what you say and where and when you say it." Ever since 9/11 the Left has been complaining that Americans' civil rights are being abridged and that they're being told to watch what they say in public. Whether they've actually been told that or not, that is exactly what the idea of freedom from religion does. It makes the religious person a second class citizen that has to hide their beliefs.
Thirdly, whether it's right or wrong it's just not in the Constitution. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". Nowhere in there does it say that anybody should be protected from religion. In fact it says exactly the opposite; it says quite clearly that Congress cannot make a law prohibiting the FREE EXERCISE of religion. If you want to run around town yelling "JESUS SAVES!" or "PRAISE BE TO ALLAH!" or even "THERE IS NO GOD!" you're perfectly welcome to and the First Amendment ensures your right to do it.
What is the purpose of religious displays?
I would say to celebrate the beliefs that those people hold dear. They care for those beliefs so much that they want to share it with others. Nobody's holding a gun to anybodies head and telling them they must agree.
The purpose and the intent are to promote the religion and gain followers, money and power. Why should certain groups be allowed to do that? I just don't understand what logical reason there would be to push religion in public areas other than to try and instill a theocracy.
That is the most cynical, contemptuous and derisive explanation I've ever heard for it. Brian puts forth a stereotype of the religious that I have just never personally seen to be true. There's the occasional televangelist and other public blowhard in it for the money and the power but the vast majority of the religious aren't trying to convert anybody; they aren't trying simply to get more money or power for their denomination. They do it because their religion is an important part of who they are and they simply want to share what has brought them so much joy, especially with those who already believe as they do. The nativity scenes and menorahs are aimed much more at fellow Christians or Jews than atheists and other non-believers.
It is entirely possible to allow people to freely express their religious beliefs without creating a theocracy. Saying that nobody can express any religious belief doesn't do that, it simply creates a theocracy in the name of atheism. What we need is a representative expression of everybody's beliefs. If the Christians want to throw up a nativity during Christmas, let them. If the Jewish want to put up a menorah during Chanukah, let them. If the Muslim want to put up something over Ramadan, let them. If Buddhists want to cart in a giant Buddha for some holiday, let them. If the atheists want to put up a sign right next to these saying "There is no god", let them.
This nation is founded on the basis of a free exchange of ideas, not on a censoring of one side of the debate. Barring obscenity or a threat to public safety let everybody express their ideas.
Where to start, where to start…
I guess to start off I guess I need to include the obligatory link to a story on the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision ruling a ban on gay marriage in Massachusetts unconstitutional. (According to the Massachusetts constitution anyway.)
Secondly I have to admit that I’d be very hard-pressed to spell Massachusetts without a spell-checker. You’d think there’d be some popular mnemonic (just to be clear, a word which I can spell easily) device or song for Massachusetts like there is with Mississippi. Maybe you need a river too in order to get a mnemonic device.
Anyway, back to the gay thing… let’s start off with some background.
I’m a Christian, a member of one of the more liberal protestant denominations: the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). (And this quiz agrees with my affiliation) Not every Disciple thinks the same way on the issue, but as a church the Disciples have managed to be fairly open on the issue of homosexuality. The Disciples of Christ have encouraged enactment of "legislation on local, state and national levels which will end the denial of civil rights and the violation of civil liberties for reasons of sexual orientation."
The way I figure, the big reason for the stigma against homosexuality in ancient times was the need for procreation. In an age when people died young and you needed more people than you had to keep your small, isolated community functioning you couldn’t afford to have a bunch of non-reproductive people around, they were a drain on the community’s resources. In this day and age with the world’s population as high as it is a person’s contribution to society has more to do with the work they do than how many additional people they can produce. I guess this paragraph is really just my way of explaining why the morality of homosexuality can evolve over time and how just because certain opinions were held in the past doesn’t automatically make them proper now.
Some argue that the Bible clearly speaks against homosexuality however I can’t reconcile discrimination against gays with the commandment to love your neighbor. My personal views put more emphasis on “Love your neighbor as yourself” than “you shall not lie with a male as with a woman”.
There is pain among gay and lesbian people, pain among those who feel that further discussion may compromise their faith, pain among congregations divided over the issue of homosexuality.
I think blocking homosexuals from legally committing themselves to one another causes more pain and trouble than it cures. Even if you think homosexuality isn’t genetic but rather a choice then saying that homosexuals can’t marry isn’t going to cause them to not be gay. Denying them the legal rights granted to married couples doesn’t mean they won’t still be gay, it doesn’t mean that they won’t still live together. All it really does is mean that they don’t get the same legal benefits as married couples: employer benefits, inheritance, etc… I see their desire to commit themselves to one partner refreshing in a world where people are more and more promiscuous and fewer and fewer heterosexual couples give marriage its proper respect.
The current debate doesn’t even require that the unions be recognized by churches. (Though I think that’s something churches need to give serious thought to; can they really do God’s work while excluding gays?) All that’s required from the government is equal rights under the law for all committed couples, whether you want to call that marriage, civil union, or some made-up Seussian word like “flurschnozzle.” In a country based on religious freedom I’m not sure how you can refuse 2 people the legal ability to commit themselves to each other.
So to sum it up, I guess you can count me among the 53% of those aged 18-29 who support gay marriage, though I do personally prefer the “civil union” terminology.
Democrat and Clinton ambassador to the Vatican Raymond Flynn isn't too pleased with how the Democrats are handling the judicial nominations.
"The process for placing qualified judges on the federal bench has descended into a quagmire that has gone beyond ideological differences," Mr. Flynn said in a memo yesterday to senators. "It has become focused on the nominees' personal values and beliefs, which has created a disturbing tone of antireligious and, in some cases, anti-Catholic bigotry," he said. "When senators use words to disqualify nominees (people whose qualifications for the federal bench are excellent) based on so-called 'strongly held beliefs' we all know what these code words mean. Antireligious code words are just as painful as racial code words. "For example, the refusal to permit a full and fair vote on the Senate floor for Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor, as well as other well-suited nominees, goes against everything we stand for as public servants. The only strike against Mr. Pryor seems to be that he is a man of devout religious faith. Intolerance of people of faith by certain members of the Senate is a stain on our nation," said Mr. Flynn, president of Your Catholic Voice, which he described as the nation's largest grass-roots Catholic organization.
Might as well tackle the Pledge dealie.
First off, I hope the 9th Circuit's Pledge ruling is overturned. Not because I think "Under God" should be either in the Pledge or on our money, but because I don't think it's unconstitutional to have it there. If you don't like it then I'd fully support a grassroots campaign to get the government to change things. I think there's a very strong case to be made for it being unnecessarily divisive.
It kind of parallels my views on abortion. I'm not so much against abortion as I am against the courts saying that we the people don't have the right to decide things on our own.
And while I've got my head firmly entrenched in the bees' nest ala Winnie The Pooh I might as well say this: Atheism is no less a belief than Christianity is. (Or Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism or any other religion of your choosing for that matter.) You may be able to explain everything in the universe without a god, but it can also be explained with Him, Her, or It. The existence of a higher power can no more be proved than it can be disproved.
I guess I'm just tired of the...
holier than thouself-righteous, we're smarter and more logical than you attitude that comes from many atheists. (Note that I don't support the holier than thou, we're going to Heaven and you're not attitude that comes from many religious people either.) The secular humanists/atheists have people on their side just as condescending as on the religious side of things, but I think many only see the self-righteous pricks on the other side of things.
Certainly got some things to think about now.
From The Corner:
RE: BISHOP ROBINSON [John Derbyshire]
I don't want to bang on about this too much, but I am in a state of black despair about this whole miserable business. Look: I'm an Anglican. I know the hymns and liturgy, I know the history. I grew up with it all. I go into an Episcopalian church as one going to a refuge from noise and money and the damn fool Zeitgeist. I go looking for eternal truth, and expecting to find it. If this church that I grew up with is going to be a club for homosexuals, turning its teachings upside down to accommodate every passing social fad, 'celebrating' the 'gay' ethos, what is there in it for normal people like me? But now where shall I go? The Roman Catholic church is headed the same way--half the priests are queer already, people tell me. I get e-mails--a surprising number--from people who have left the western Catholic churches and found a spiritual home among the Orthodox. Well, I'm open to the suggestion; but why, in my fifties, should I have to give up the devotional habits of a lifetime? Just losing the hymns would break my heart. And in any case, the Orthodox priesthood, with all those bright vestments and ministrational hierarchies, is going to be just as appealing to homosexuals as the Catholic churches have proved, and will sooner or later go the same way. We have let something loose in our society, and it won't rest until it has occupied the commanding heights and forcibly shut the mouths of all who object--bigots! homophobes! haters! I have never liked homosexuality, nor tried to hide that fact; but all my life I have supported tolerance towards homosexuals as a harmless minority who are just as entitled to pursue their private inclinations as the rest of us. I have always thought that the criminalization of homosexual acts was both foolish, and inhumane, and un-Christian. I am no longer so sure. Perhaps our grandfathers were wiser than us. Perhaps there are some things that we, the normal majority, SHOULD, deliberately and consciously, disapprove and marginalize. But what hope of that now? The toothpaste is out of the tube. To the catacombs!
Posted at 11:20 AM
Sure, those "queers" or fine as long as they're not invading our churches... yeah... *sigh*
Now there's the Lego version.
Therefore I, by the grace of God and the favor of the Apostolic See Bishop of the Eparchy of St. George in Canton, must declare to you, my people, for the sake of your salvation as well as my own, that any direct participation and support of this war against the people of Iraq is objectively grave evil, a matter of mortal sin. Beyond a reasonable doubt this war is morally incompatible with the Person and Way of Jesus Christ. With moral certainty I say to you it does not meet even the minimal standards of the Catholic just war theory.
Thus, any killing associated with it is unjustified and, in consequence, unequivocally murder. Direct participation in this war is the moral equivalent of direct participation in an abortion. For the Catholics of the Eparchy of St. George, I hereby authoritatively state that such direct participation is intrinsically and gravely evil and therefore absolutely forbidden.
--Bishop John Michael Botean
"[T]his war is the moral equivalent of direct participation in an abortion"... does that mean Liberals should be for it?
The good vs. evil plot lines of the best-selling books are imbued with Christian morals, the Rev. Don Peter Fleetwood told a Vatican news conference Monday.
"I don't see any, any problems in the Harry Potter series," Fleetwood said.
He was responding to questions following the release of a new Vatican document on the New Age phenomenon, which he helped draft as a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
Fleetwood was asked whether the magic embraced by Harry Potter and his pals at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was problematic for the Roman Catholic Church. Some evangelical groups have condemned the series for glamorizing magic and the occult.
"I don't think there's anyone in this room who grew up without fairies, magic and angels in their imaginary world," said Fleetwood, who is British. "They aren't bad. They aren't serving as a banner for an anti-Christian ideology.
"If I have understood well the intentions of Harry Potter's author, they help children to see the difference between good and evil," said Fleetwood. "And she is very clear on this."
Diana West has a piece over at the Washington Times about Bush's Islamic cheerleading.
Thanks to, among other things, the separation of church and state, it's not in the president's job description to be an Islamic scholar; but neither is it incumbent upon him to take up the pompom for old Islam. This seems particularly clear now that Mr. Bush has decided to weigh in on the blunt critiques of Islam offered by several conservative Christian leaders who have voiced their reactions (negative) to the violence at the core of Islam's unreconstructed traditions of jihad. Islam is violent, said one. Islam is evil, said another; and besides, said another, Mohammed was a pedophile. Historic truths or baseless slanders? If the president has his way, we'll never know. Such remarks "do not reflect the sentiments of my government or the sentiments of most Americans," Mr. Bush noted pointedly last week. "Ours is a country based upon tolerance . . . and we welcome people of all faiths in America. And we're not going to let the war on terror or terrorists cause us to change our values."
While I do think it needs to be pointed out that not all of Islam is evil, or warlike or whatever, I worry that that President's nonstop support of general Islam is leading to the glossing over of serious issues about Islam that need to be addressed. What gets lost is that even if the terrorists and rioters aren't mainstream Islam they're still a version of Islam, and there's definitely something very unpeaceful about what they believe.
When people of your same faith can form a mob and kill 50 people just because the Miss World pageant is going on then I think it's time to take a serious look at your faith as a whole and think about what you and those who share your view can do to bring the radicals into the mainstream fold.
It would be nice to see some mainstream Islamic missionaries head over to Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East to counter the radical leaders. Assuming Islam really doesn't endorse the xenophobia and discrimination practiced so widely in the third world countries then the more enlightened members of Islam need to step up and bring their wayward brethren back into the fold.
Hmmm, you'd think that Allah would disapprove more of 50 people dying in a riot than a newspaper saying Mohammed would have approved of a beauty pagent.
It occurs to me that while pointing out that not all of Islam is warlike is a good idea, the coining of the term "religion of peace" may have hurt more than it helped. People are offering up examples left and right under the title "religion of peace" trying to disprove that it really isn't when it isn't so much the religion that's messed up as the culture of the Middle East. The term just seems to be the "kick me" sign put on Islam's back by the Middle Eastern Islamic culture.
A reviewer for the Star-Telegram is deeply offended that the Radio City Christmas Spectacular actually contains religious elements.
...to lure spectators of all faiths (and non-faiths) with the promise of an entertaining holiday revue, and then to ambush them with Christian theology, is dated and borderline offensive, especially at a time when understanding of other cultures and beliefs is more important than ever....
Had it been called the Radio City Holiday Spectacular the guy might have a point, but shouldn't you go into something specifically mentioning Christmas in the title expecting that it's possible it might not be entirely secular?
Regardless of how they carry out their attacks, they give the world a reason to oppose them simply by their religious radicalism. Say what you will about how the US has treated the rest of the world, at least we don't require that they believe in the same god as us and worship that god in the same way.
If Nancy Pelosi thinks her brand of catholicism is conservative I'd like to see what she considers a liberal catholic.
So says the Washington Times. But at least they're not funding religious soup kitchens, because that would just be wrong.
Or else what you say? How about Death... and 74 lashes... and being banned from teaching for 10 years... AND being exiled. Now that's punishment. But all apparently well deserved, I mean the guy did dare to say that maybe people other than clerics should have some say on what Mohammed meant. Talk about nerve.
Oh yeah, but we're still the bad guys because we blew up 6 terrorists with a missile.