The Group of People I Like Keeps Dwindling

One of the things that has long troubled me in the silly war by the extremist right to paint Obama as a Muslim, is why the response isn’t simply: so what if he is? Why is it something that must be defended against? Have we gone so far around the bend into naked hatred that it would not be okay to have a Muslim president?

The fact that Barack Obama is assuredly a Christian, is beside the point. We need only go as far as Herman Cain to find someone willing to blatantly state that no Muslim would find their way into “his” administration.

A furor erupted in New Jersey when the governor there appointed a Muslim to the Court of Appeals. Thankfully, the governor says he would do it again!

But we are, it seems, making it almost alright to bash Muslims. The extremist right is simply awful in its hate-spewing, using all sorts of words and phrases meant to inflame and leaving no doubt that they conceive of Muslims in general as a thing to be eradicated from the body politic. As we have previously noted Bryan Fischer suggests they have no “1st Amendment rights” since our Founding Fathers, inexplicably never meant to include anyone but Christians, and perhaps “good” Jews.

Many extremists point to the Qur’an as being a hate-filled book. Frankly, from things I’ve read, by people who have reason to know, it is no more so than the Bible, which admittedly portrays a pretty violent and bloodthirsty God in parts of the Hebrew Scriptures.

But did you know that the person named most often in the Qur’an is Moses? And the second most named person is Jesus? And the third is the Virgin Mary? I sure didn’t. Read an account of this and other things from the Qur’an at The Reaction, in a guest post by Hamid M. Khan, adjunct professor of Islamic Law at the University of Colorado Law School.

A couple of shorts. This just in. Beck is “transitioning off” his TV show. Meaning he has been told to take a hike. The usual “new projects are in the works” was released.

Democrats proposed that if the Rethugs were intent on the government shutdown, that the moral thing to do was to stop paying themselves in Congress and President. The GOP said whoa, that was going too far!

With Paul Ryan’s “new budget” which basically guts Medicare and Medicaid, we now see that the GOP strategy is to support in every way the rich getting richer and placing all the economic suffering on the poor, women and old people. Coupled with their growing attacks on Muslims, and Latinos, well, we can see that it is the party of the great shrinking white well-to-do. Good luck with that.

If you want to find out what your state excels in, environmentally that is, well take a look at the map below. [h/t Joe.My.God]

What’s on the stove? Fish Tacos (recipe anyone?)

Spotting a “Christian” Bigot

What probably first comes to mind, is that isn’t this a contradiction in terms? One would hope that Christian and bigot couldn’t possibly go together. Alas, all too often they do. At least for a certain type of Christian.

I’ve been thinking a good deal about the “Pastor” Terry Jones and his tiny brigade of haters who had planned to burn Qur’ans. This spurred a world-wide whirlwind of response from the President, Pope, and others in positions of power and influence.

Terry seemed undisturbed by it all, claiming that God told him to do this.

Indeed, his god probably did. But is this THE God or only the convenient one he has created to salve his guilty conscience at his alive-and-well wealth of hatred? I would think the latter.

A few weeks ago, someone (speak up if it was you!) suggested that “born agains” which most of these fundogelicals are, don’t really experience any real conversion interiorly. They simply profess that Jesus is my savior and then go about their lives pretty much the same, with a generous “amen” and “have you confessed Jesus as your Lord and Savior” sprinkled throughout their conversations.

The Bible, then, becomes for them, a hugely wonderful resource for finding all kinds of quotes to sustain whatever personal beliefs they have about just about anything. I for instance have been told that Jesus never authorized governments to take care of the poor. (I just can imagine Jesus condemning Rome for its decision to take over the care of the widow and orphan in Jerusalem, freeing the Jews to spent their money on Temple maintenance!) 

I can only speak of my own conversion some seventeen years ago, as an example. I was flooded with guilt for months, until my baptism, and I actually went around to a number of people who I felt I had wronged and asked forgiveness and made my amends as best I could. I allowed to come forth all those natural feelings that hate and prejudice toward others was wrong. I resolved to actively work against the desire to blame “others” for whatever ills I fashioned were wrong with the US and the world at large.

Of course, I fail more than I succeed. Yet, I resolve each day to do better, and occasionally I think I’ve beat another hatred back a bit. It’s an ongoing battle, and of course it is meant to be. We don’t become saints over night, and most of us never. But we try.

Our new resident troll seems to suggest that we are intolerant because we aren’t tolerant of intolerant people! Wrap your brain around that one if you can. He misunderstands of course. I am most tolerant of anyone’s right to spew hatred whether they be Christian bigots ala Terry Jones, or the KKK or self-serving money grabbers such as Glenn Beck.

They have every right to do what they do. This is what freedom is about after all. But I, I have every right, and frankly a duty to speak out against their hatred. Their intolerance cannot be allowed to go unchallenged lest the uniformed be persuaded that this stuff is the right way to think.

Christian bigots as I said, sprinkle their talk with lots of godly words. They make Facebook entries like “Do you love Jesus?” They are always punctuating sentences with “Praise God.”

But if you look closely at what they cite in their defense of their bigoted ideas, it is almost never Jesus. No they speak of Jesus but never quote him much. Much of what they quote is either Paul taken outrageously out of  the context of very specific issues, or Hebrew Testament cherry picking. This is the more interesting because when they don’t like something in the HT, they invariably tell you that NT subsumes the Old, and Jesus fulfilled all the HT. That allows them to eat pork, and charge interest, and a plethora of other things that they find unpleasant or tedious.

You can know them almost precisely because they don’t quote Jesus, who, by overwhelming degree, spoke about love, forgiveness, and taking care of each other. Jesus above all talked of treating “enemies” not as such, but gently, with friendship, with love, and with hospitality. For as he often said, sinners treat well people who treat them well. Doing the same is nothing to brag about for the believer. Jesus spoke of the poor, the outcast, the sinner.

To suggest that God wishes us to burn the spiritual book of another faith is simply absurd. Most of us know that. Most of us know that Jesus would have condemned anyone who tried to box an entire faith system as evil. He found faithful people among the Roman legions for goodness sake.

Terry Jones, is a preacher in his own mind. He has so little sense, that he apparently actually became convinced that  Imam Rauf, who has stood against all manner of politically powerful idiots, suddenly bows to a dolt such as Terry and agrees to move his Islamic Center. I mean how full of it can one be?

Jones is captured by his own press at this point, and actually apparently thinks he is an important individual. He is nothing but a pimple on the butt of Satan. And the media, ever ready of course, to take the easy road, gives him play all day long. What should be done, is simply to ignore the fool and his tiny band of ill-educated, and unconverted hate mongers. Their god is no god, but an idol they have constructed to justify their bigotry.

We would do well to get on with life, leaving Terry and his ragtag troop to their marshmallow roast, ignored and shunned.

Of Ink and Quills and Parchment

One of the joys of living, it seems to me, is the ever-present ability to re-invent oneself. So, a few months ago, I declared, amid no fanfare whatsoever, that I deemed myself a writer.

I’m not sure there is some formal standard that one must meet in order to claim this appellation. If there is, I may not meet it. But then I don’t care. It is my claim, and anyone is free to disagree.

Note that I call myself a writer, not a Writer. I reserve the capital W for those who can REALLY write. I scribble, with an occasional dash of brilliance that streaks across the sky and too soon snuffs out much as your average meteorite. A big ado about little–this is me.

I have concluded that being a self-proclaimed writer gives me a certain ability to be witty and slashingly evil. All in the name of sharp-edgy rhetoric, the turn of a phrase that causes a gasp from you my reader. You do gasp on occasion don’t you? Please say you do.

It’s why I adore people like Dorothy Parker and Lillian Hellman, and goodness knows one of my favorites Truman Capote. And Tennessee Williams! Rapier wit, icy, droll, slicing, eviscerations. I just love them all.

I read this piece today courtesy of 3quarksdaily and frankly the article on a very old book on the study of evil is worth reading, but I include it for its gorgeous quotes. One is by Capote, who in reviewing Jack Kerouac‘s On the Road, quipped:

That was not writing, that was typing.

There is another by the reviewer of Soame Jenyns book, A Free Inquiry in the Nature and Origin of Evil. But follow the link for that. As I said, a discussion of the author’s theory of evil is worth the read in and of itself. Evil here is cast in the greater sense of natural as well as man-made, and Jenyn’s concludes that evil is required to keep balance in a well run universe. I would of course not agree, but that’s a whole other blog post.

Oh just want to throw in my two cents at the GOP attempt to “speak against the nut case pastor in Florida.” Both Sarah and John B. have weighed in and both, as I have heard are tying the impropriety of the Qur’an burning to the impropriety of Park51. Like there is anything remotely similar in the two. Just exactly what is to be expected from moral defectives. Shame on ya both.

Helen weighs in on the book burning over at Margaret and Helen. Never miss these lovely slices of humor and straight talk. Ever. I mean it.

I got to thinking. (You have been warned.) We were watching The Colony last night. It is a reality show where about ten people are thrown into an area somewhere along the Louisiana coastline, as “refugees” of a viral global epidemic. Nine-tenths of the human race is dead. They are left to their own devices. It’s fairly interesting as they scavenge material and food, trying to build a viable community.

They are not doing well with food, and they are starting to show the effects. I suddenly giggled at the possible headline:

 Reality show participants forget that it’s just pretend, and by lots kill a member for food. Body found partly dismembered. One survivor was heard to  say, why “he tasted just like pork, better than the cockroaches we were eating for sure.”  All have been hospitalized and are under observation. Psychiatrists condemn show producers for not making the make-believe aspect more clear. Meanwhile, the partially eaten body of James Kelly was turned over to the family for burial. A closed casket is expected. Authorities are investigating for possible criminal charges. The leader of the survival group, when advised that it was all just make-believe, expressed his sympathy, and emphatically said, that no such killing would have occurred had they not been so hungry, or had they known that a Burger King was right down the street, behind the fence.

Well, so sue me. I have a morbid mind at times.

On a completely different note:

I ran into this at Tikkun Daily Blog: Non-Jews would benefit from observing Rosh Hashanah thru Yom Kippur (Sept 9-Sept 19). I think Rabbi Lerner is right. Repentance and atonement are things we all need, both individually and communally. We are so quick to blame others for the chaotic world we live in. We don’t condone nor commit the hate that swirls around us, but we are complicit when we sit in silence bemoaning the state of things. When we don’t speak out, and let it be known that we disagree with the war mongers and hate mongers who continually tear down bridges and erect walls of division. This is a good read.

Heather at Crooks and Liars has an important question, or at least reiterates one: when has someone crossed a line? When is the GOP rhetoric just too much. When is it dangerous? When it is traitorous? When do we pull back in disgust and turn our backs on such people as simply unacceptable in a democratic state? Rachel Maddow asks this of Sharron Angle and her continuing threat that people may have to resort to their second amendment rights to get what they want. Is this the real face of the GOP? Are they the party of dictatorship?

What’s on the stove: pork chops and parslied potatoes and green beans.

Let It Be A New Day

Praise be to whatever Goodness speaks in your heart this day! In response to hatred, there is love being expressed, tolerance overflowing and men and women of good will gather in friendship.

A couple of important notices:

First, for those living near the environs of Cedar Rapids, IA, please take note that an interfaith “Day of Remembrance, Unity and Respect” is scheduled for 9/11 at 1-2:30 pm at the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids, 2999 1st Ave NW, Cedar Rapids, IA. Members of the Islamic faith, Judaic faith, and Christian faith will gather for a few words and prayer. Please come if you can to show your support for tolerance, and unity in recall of our time of tragedy.

If you cannot attend, please consider this Facebook call for unity and tolerance. Dr. James McGrath has created a FB page called, “read the Qur’an day.” Please go and sign up. We cannot remain silent in the face of the hatred being expressed by a tiny minority. We must speak out. We are a nation of immigrants. Tolerance is what defines us.

I caught this over at National Catholic Reporter. Fr. John Dear, SJ, has written a post on the sad but true fact that what can only be described as dictator, Columbia’s former president, Alvaro Uribe, has accepted a teaching position at Georgetown University. Fr. Dear has a good history of both Uribe and Georgetown’s questionable dealings with the American war machine in the past. This is truly sad to hear. I certainly don’t deny that Uribe has a right speak his piece about whatever, but I surely think there were better choices for teaching our youth than one who has had such a close connection to warlords and other murdering types.

I was born in Flint Michigan and lived a considerable number of years in Detroit, so I know of what I speak. Both are ugly decrepit cities and nothing much can save them I suspect. Both largely grew to magnificence (or some semblance of that) through the age of the Automobile, now both rust away as the heyday of automotive power wanes.  The Boston Globe has an interesting article on how these declining cities deal with this. How to downsize? (Note: recently Detroit decided to go forward with wholesale demolition of old neighborhoods long abandoned–thousands of homes are involved so I understand) A truly innovative look at a problem.

To those of us who pay attention, the Teapartiers have always been an anomaly. A conglomeration of mostly uninformed folk, who rant about “our freedoms” while having little or no clear thinking about what the Constitution says or means. Ironically they are often “for” things that are in-opposite to long-standing constitutional norms. In essence, they are often willing to eviscerate the Constitution in the name of upholding it. DeWayne Wickham at USAToday has a great article about the new KnowNothing Party.

Oh and before I forget, let my say this: This refusal of most of the “high-ranking GOP leadership (read Palin, Boehner, Gingrich et al) to condemn the Qur’an burning is disgusting and amounts to an endorsement. They are willing to allow their hate spewing followers to believe they favor it rather than have the guts to stand up for what is right. So much for ethics. But then who ever assumed they had any?

And we see that John Sidney McCain is criticizing the President for allowing the tax cuts for the rich to expire. Oh but, darn, McCain voted against them when Bush proposed them? How to reconcile this old fart? Just another one of your vengeful acts isn’t it John? You hated Bush for beating you, and you hate Obama for beating you. You need to go sit in your chair and muse about the dust bunnies in the wind.

If I hasn’t come to you yet, it will. Which came first: the insipid vapid (id words you see) moronic lack of intellect of the average American, thus requiring constant feeding of irrelevant nonsense, OR the increasing laziness of the journalistic working man and woman, who has traded actual journalistic skill for a few tips from Entertainment Nightly. Huh? Well, D-Cap tackles this one.

Christian Beyer is a fine writer and thinker and knows fundamentalist Christianity from the inside. See his blog entry today: It’s time for Christians to declare jihad against Fundamentalism. Just an excellent read.

Sad to say, but perfectly predictable, the right-wing and GOP are using the upcoming 9/11 date to raise money and spread hate. They have been doing it for years, and plan to continue it seems.

Ya know there is just plenty of crap to worry about. I worry a lot about that seething mega volcano just waiting to erupt in Yellowstone. That will take most all of us out. I worry about the state of our magnetic field, without which we will all be toast in days. Well, now I gotta worry about asteroids again! I thought we had that one all taken care of with an array of telescopes all searching for any misdirected balls of iron. (Jupiter with its super-massive gravity well is largely to blame–just so you know where to direct your ire.) Turns out NASA which runs this safety program is RUNNING OUT OF MONEY.

So I figure, we should perhaps set up a citizens brigade or something. You can leave your name and number and the night you would like to take your watch. Don’t push. Sharp eyes and a pair of field binoculars are required.

What’s on the stove: chili today. Oh I know it’s early, but I was hungry for some, and I made it really good and hot, and with some fresh corn bread. HA!