Sunday, September 10, 2006
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Monday, August 21, 2006
The First Baptist Church dismissed Mary Lambert on Aug. 9 with a letter explaining that the church had adopted an interpretation that prohibits women from teaching men. She had taught there for 54 years.
The letter quoted the first epistle to Timothy: "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."
When I hear stories like this, it really makes me angry and realize the we "liberal" Christians need to work even harder to reclaim "Christianity."
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Saturday, August 19, 2006
It is a movie set in turn of the century Vienna and the plot revolves around romance, political intrigue, and flawed class structures..but more than that the film also explores the relationship between reason and magic. On some levels it is quite a predictable tale of unrequited love between two people caught between duty, class and the unexplainable mystery of love--the chemistry that makes all those other important things melt away--but beyond this there is the continual exploration of magic and reason.Read all of Barry's analysis at Nevermind the Bricolage. Go see it if it gets released where you live.
Eisenheim is no ordinary illusionist, his brand of magic is way beyond card tricks and disappearing animals, and when he begins to conjure up spectral images of the dead, many begin to wonder if he is doing magic or whether something darker is at work. Norton is his usual understatedly brilliant, and everyone else rises to the occasion, the cinematography is exquisite, the music courtesy of Phillip Glass, sets the perfect tone, but it was the film's subtext that really captured my imagination.
I can't help hoping we see more of Edward Norton than we have. He is always worth watching.
...there is something quite pleasing about all those white, male, Konservative, Konfederate, Kolonial types agreeing to obey every command (and it will be every command) that a black, African pope gives them and, on top of that, to believe everything he tells them to believe. When you consider how many slaves were abducted from Nigeria you come to realise just how ironic our universe really is.
Number of reporters contributing to Friday's front page New York Times story on the JonBenet Ramsey case: 13
Number of reporters contributing to Friday's front page New York Times story on the federal court ruling that the NSA warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional: 2
Not to mention the dominance of the story on TV.
(Hat tip to Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo.)
Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (a part of the National Institute of Health) has an opinion column in Saturday's Washington Post titled, "Treat the Addict, Cut the Crime Rate." In it she stresses how important it is to treat the addiction problem, especially since 70% of the offenders in prisons and jails have regularly abused drugs.
When drug abusers enter the criminal justice system, it signals a pivotal crisis in their lives. It also offers a unique opportunity to institute treatment for drug abuse and addiction. Studies have consistently shown that comprehensive drug treatment works. It not only reduces drug use but also curtails criminal behavior and recidivism. Moreover, for drug-abusing offenders, treatment facilitates successful reentry into the community. This is true even for people who enter treatment under legal mandate.Her conclusion make sense to me. If we address the root cause of the behavior of this large segment within the prison population, I am convinced we can reduce recidivism. What do you think?
The ultimate goal of treatment, of course, is to help an addict stop using drugs. As a clinician I don't remember ever meeting an addicted person who wanted to be addicted or who expected that compulsive, uncontrollable or even criminal behavior would emerge when he or she started taking drugs. Providing drug-abusing offenders with comprehensive treatment saves lives and protects communities.
Friday, August 18, 2006
"I think we've been a force for equal opportunity, for harmony among people, for peace, for reconciliation and for the notion that we have to go forward together."But, there is still a lot of work to do. Can future generations carry this mission forward?
Here's a taste of what Randall Balmer has to say today:
Of all the political strategies being pursued these days by leaders of the Religious Right, none is more pernicious than the attempt to eviscerate the First Amendment. By trying to impose public prayer in public schools (students can pray privately any time they wish!), by advocating public funding and school vouchers for use in religious schools and by seeking to emblazon religious sentiments on public places, they try to undermine the separation of church and state, the best friend that religion has ever had.
There is even a movement within the Religious Right, led by David Barton and others, to deny that our nation's founders intended church and state to be separate. I've come to equate these people with the Holocaust deniers and those who debunk global warming -- not in the sense of moral equivalence, but in the sense of the brazenness of their denials, all evidence to the contrary. Compounding this betrayal, many of the leaders of the Religious Right, from Pat Robertson and Richard Land to Roy Moore and Rick Scarborough, claim to be Baptists, ignoring altogether that the notion of church-state separation was a Baptist idea.
As a person of faith, I have a further objection to the entanglement of church and state. It ultimately trivializes the faith because it suggests that religion needs the support of the state for legitimacy. When you fetishize the Ten Commandments or demand a ritualized, formal prayer in school or on public occasions, you diminish the faith itself.
This exchange goes through early next week and should be worth reading.
UPDATE: Here is the first blog post from Bruce Prescott.
Making the public aware of the problems and issues will help bring about reform.
UPDATE: Here'a a link to more info.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
He said "twelve million people a year pay €50 (£34) to visit Eurodisney," and that "if the Disney Corporation owned Venice, Venice would no longer be in peril".But, let's pray they don't sell it to Disney to operate. We could be riding "Pirates of the Mediteranian" instead of a gondola and visiting the new "Renaissance Land" pavillion.
Is water wet?
Is Colin Farrell stubbly?
Unlike other two-term presidents, Bush hasn't grown in office, become an old familiar whose irritating traits and lapses could be accepted almost affectionately, like Reagan's dottiness. He's demonstrably diminished, dwarfed by the reality that he continues to deny and repeating himself in press conferences like a robot whose wiring is on the fritz, for whom words and phrases are nothing more than pre-programmed units of sound. He's more irritating and dangerous than ever before, because he doesn't know anything, doesn't know or care that he doesn't know anything, and yet persists in a path of destruction as if it were the road to salvation. It's finally dawned on responsible minds that Bush could take all of us down with him before he and the neocons are through.
“Senior administration officials have acknowledged to me that they are considering alternatives other than democracy,” said one military affairs expert who received an Iraq briefing at the White House last month and agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity.
A federal judge ruled Thursday that the government's warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and ordered an immediate halt to it.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Craig Detwieler is the co-author of A Matrix of Meanings: Finding God in Pop Culture, screenwriter and Associate Professor of Mass Communications at Biola University. Here from an interview with Craig is this answer which may give you some idea of where he is coming from:
Q. You make reference to 1999 as the year that changed movies. And then you interact with some of the themes that emerged that year in film. Give us a little slice of why that was a year that changed movies.
A. The same year that The Matrix was released on Easter weekend, you also had films like American Beauty and Fight Club and Magnolia and Run Lola Run and Dogma, Sixth Sense, films that assumed life beyond what you could see. All of them dealt with the possibility of miracles beyond, of life outside of ourselves, as a search for something more. And I think that characterizes where we are in a culture right now. We have a spiritual culture, not necessarily a Christian culture, but a spiritual culture that assumes a certain respect for the mystery of the divine.
- Every American should have the right to make personal decisions -- about family life, reproductive health, end of life care and other matters of personal conscience.
- American tax dollars should not go to charities that discriminate in hiring based on religious belief or that promote a particular religious faith as a requirement for receiving services.
- Political candidates should not be endorsed or opposed by houses of worship.
- Public schools should teach with academic integrity and without the promotion of religious preference or belief.
- Decisions about scientific and health policies should be based on the best available scientific data, not on religious doctrine.
We join together, as the most diverse nation in the world, to commit ourselves to defending and preserving this freedom.Sign it here:
"It's time to have a Muslims check-point line in America's airports and have Muslims be scrutinized. You better believe it, it's time," Gallagher said.What's next separate security for guys with beards? Vegetarians? Ass-hole talking heads? "Old fart" bloggers?
They are known for their faithfulness to their mates, an attachment that extends to their nests, which tend to be large and used repeatedly over a number of years.
But, I guess I won't be the only one having this problem.
Asked what planet Superman was from, 60 percent named the fictional planet Krypton, while only 37 percent knew that Mercury is the planet closest to the sun.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
"For most of my working life, I was the youngest person doing what I was doing. Then one day I woke up and I was the oldest person in every room," said Clinton, who was a youthful 44 when he was first elected president, in 1992.I'm having dinner tonight with a priest who just joined the All Saints' parish staff and I realized today I am certainly old enough to be her father, which makes me feel old. Most days I don't feel that much older than the youngsters in the room. But, there are days...
"Now that I have more days behind me than ahead of me, I try to wake up with a discipline of gratitude every day," said Clinton, who left office in 2001 and has since devoted himself to his charitable foundation.
The Bush Administration unveiled a new $64 billion spending package Monday for a joint CIA–Pentagon program aimed at neutralizing the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's global humanitarian network.OK, it's from The Onion but, there is a part of me that believes they are capabable of this kind of thinking and action.
"They're creating a monster," added DiRita, referring specifically to the Gates Foundation's global-health equity program. "If they cure AIDS, malaria, and TB, they're going to have a very hard time getting that Pandora's box closed again."
The new program also targets Gates' international training and youth-outreach programs with the $4 billion "Leave Millions Of Children Behind" plan, an effort to counterfund any school the Gates Foundation opens by providing them with wrong-language textbooks, broken calculators, and asbestos-riddled classrooms.
"Once you educate a population—teach them to read, do math, give them access to the Internet—they can use those skills for the rest of their lives," the CIA's O'Hara said. "We don't know what these people would be capable of if left to their own devices."
"And quite frankly, we don't want to know," O'Hara added.
Monday, August 14, 2006
The Prayer Antenna is part of a series of Religious Technological Artifacts that I am making. The Antenna receives signals from God (yes, your God). The Antenna currently takes the form of a surplus / thrift-store motor-cycle helmet (or similar) that is ornately ordained and fitted with sufficient technology to receive signals. The helmet bristles like a porcupine with many different antennas. The visor is blacked out. Integrated headphones allow the worshipper to experience the signals. Sufficient controls allow the worshipper to tune the signals. The helmet is mounted to the wall on an ornate arm (at around waist level) and a small kneeling stool is provided (like a prayer kneeler). To use the Antenna the worshipper must kneel on the stool and inset their head into the helmet. The wall and surrounding are painted with a decorative pattern.
- December 7, 1941 through May 8, 1945 (VE-Day) = 1,248 days
- March 19, 2003 (U.S. invasion of Iraq) through Friday, August 18, 2006 = 1,248 days
Sounds like both Israeli leaders and citizens are questioning the results of the last month's efforts.
Yet, even with all the death and carnage, some people keep cheering for more. I don't understand it.Amid a wave of angry civilian reactions in Israel after more than a month in which an estimated 3,500 rockets were fired into northern Israel, Sam Echahid, the manager of a local supermarket, was asked whether he thought the ceasefire would hold. He said: "I hope not. We haven't done anything yet."
Sunday, August 13, 2006
... it's also revealing about the way fundamentalism and sex interact. What most male-run religious fundamentalisms include is a major exception for the hetero-male sex drive. Sex outside of missionary-position reproduction with legal wife/wives is officially verboten; but when frail male flesh gives in, the blame is almost always the object of desire - not the guy actually responsible.
"I never had a problem with Christ, but Christians were difficult to me...they seem strange to me, and I know that I seem strange to them...they tend to judge people by surface problems...whereas things like corporate are never mentioned."UPDATE (1PM): You can listen to it all here.
The command to love our neighbor in the Scriptures is not advice, it's a command...In the global world you cannot say, it's their problem over there."
"Your charity is important but your commitment to justice is what we really need...you'll be marching with a lot of colorful people, but just chill out."
|With all the "red alert" news, I thought we all needed a tiny diversion. Just watch it. This guy is amazing, not to mention the musical memories.|
(Thanks to my friend Chris E. for the link.)
UPDATE: I just love this video and so, before it goes into the archive, I am bumping it up in case you missed it earlier in the week.
“Free and informed consent becomes pretty questionable when prisoners don’t hold the keys to their own cells,” Professor Murphy said, “and in many cases they can’t read, yet they are signing a document that it practically takes a law degree to understand.”
During the Holmesburg experiments, inmates could earn up to $1,500 a month by participating. The only other jobs were at the commissary or in the shoe and shirt factory, where wages were usually about 15 cents to 25 cents a day, Professor Hornblum said.
On the issue of compensation for inmates, the report expressed concern about “undue inducements to participate in research in order to gain access to medical care or other benefits they would not normally have.” It called for “adequate protections” to avoid “attempts to coerce or manipulate participation."
Saturday, August 12, 2006
My brother died of AIDS over 22 years ago, so it's an issue that is close to me and many friends. There is some hope but a lot of work still to do.
And while you are at it, read what Bono had to say about the AIDS crisis yesterday at megachurch, Willow Creek's leadership summit.
When Bono came into Hybels' life, the megachurch pastor found it "ironic" that a rock star was approaching the church with a cry to help the poor and the sick – a command that Jesus had clearly given and that churches were typically known to do. However, churches have always been behind on such issues, said Bono. And he explained the reason being a fear of politics and a judgmental attitude about the AIDS virus.
While churches have largely been in the charity and homeless feeding scene in their local communities, their presence has been foreign to the millions suffering from HIV/AIDS.
Charity is important, Bono noted, but the desire of the churches for justice is what the world really needs, he added.
Responding to the absence, the rock star emphatically said, "Christ won't let the church walk away from the AIDS emergency."
Below is the Old Testament reading that was used, Ecclesiastes 9: 1 -10:
1-3 Well, I took all this in and thought it through, inside and out. Here's what I understood: The good, the wise, and all that they do are in God's hands—but, day by day, whether it's love or hate they're dealing with, they don't know.
Anything's possible. It's one fate for everybody—righteous and wicked, good people, bad people, the nice and the nasty, worshipers and non-worshipers, committed and uncommitted. I find this outrageous—the worst thing about living on this earth—that everyone's lumped together in one fate. Is it any wonder that so many people are obsessed with evil? Is it any wonder that people go crazy right and left? Life leads to death. That's it.
4-6 Still, anyone selected out for life has hope, for, as they say, "A living dog is better than a dead lion." The living at least know something, even if it's only that they're going to die. But the dead know nothing and get nothing. They're a minus that no one remembers. Their loves, their hates, yes, even their dreams, are long gone. There's not a trace of them left in the affairs of this earth.
7-10 Seize life! Eat bread with gusto,
Drink wine with a robust heart.
Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure!
Dress festively every morning.
Don't skimp on colors and scarves.
Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day of your precarious life.
Each day is God's gift. It's all you get in exchange
For the hard work of staying alive.
Make the most of each one!
Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!
This is your last and only chance at it,
For there's neither work to do nor thoughts to think
In the company of the dead, where you're most certainly headed.
Can we expect a similar photo spread and article by the NY Times on +Bishop Jefferts-Schori anytime soon?
The Ancestors have told us we are all connected in the Sacred Circle of Life. If this is so, the pain and suffering of our fellow brothers and sisters in the Middle East must also be our pain and suffering. We send our prayers of love and encouragement on the wind to reach their hearts and comfort them. We let our tears fall into Grandmother Ocean that they may reach the shores of our Middle East brothers and sisters to mingle with their tears and let them know they are not alone. We touch our Mother Earth with the desire for peace in our hearts so when our brothers and sisters in the Middle East walk upon our Mother Earth they will feel our desire for peace in their hearts and they will be comforted.
Creator, we acknowledge our common heritage that makes us all related. You are our Holy Parent and we have come forth from you. We each have a song to sing, each song different, each song beautiful as it is sung to you. May our songs that we sing acknowledge the sacredness of all life as we join together in this Sacred Circle.
Garry Willis tackles the question of whether or not we can truly aspire to do what Jesus did in an article at beliefnet.com. After discussing some of Jesus behavior and attitudes, like remaining in the temple when his parents left town, changing water into wine, casting out devils, he says that these...
... were acts meant to show that he is not just like us, that he has higher rights and powers, that he has an authority as arbitrary as God's in the Book of Job. He is a divine mystery walking among men. The only way we can directly imitate him is to act as if we were gods ourselves--yet that is the very thing he forbids.And then he challenges us with these paragraphs, concluding with a reference to how the disciples would never have asked WWJD they were too busy trying to figure out the puzzle that was Jesus.
Christians cannot really be "Christlike." As Chesterton said, "A great man knows he is not God, and the greater he is the better he knows it." The thing we have to realize is that Christ, whoever or whatever he was, was certainly not a Christian. Romano Guardini put it this way in The Humanity of Christ:We continue to try to figure out what it means to be a Christian today. We too must determine the deeper intent of Jesus' example.
If Jesus is a mere man, then he must be measured by the message which he brought to men. He must himself do what he expects of others; he must himself think according to the way he demanded that men think. He must himself be a Christian. Very well, then; the more he is like that, the less he will speak, act, or think as he did; and the more he will be appalled by the blasphemy of the way he did behave. If Jesus is mere man as we are, even though a very profound one, very devout, very pure--no, let us put it another way: the measure of his depth, devotion, purity, reverence, will be the measure in which it will be impossible for him to say what he says... . The following clear-cut alternative emerges: either he is not just evil, for that would not adequately describe the case -- either he is deranged, as Nietzsche became in Turin in 1888, or he is quite different, deeply and essentially different, from what we are.
To read the gospels in the spirit with which they were written, it is not enough to ask what Jesus did or said. We must ask what Jesus meant by his strange deeds and words. He intended to reveal the Father to us, and to show that he is the only-begotten Son of that Father. What he signified is always more challenging than we expect, more outrageous, more egregious. That is why the Catholic novelist Francois Mauriac calls him "of all the great characters history places before us, the least logical." Dostoyevsky's Grand Inquisitor knew this when he reproached Christ for puzzling men by being "exceptional, vague, and enigmatic.
Fifteen centuries ago Judaism's sages said that when God made the first man, He took him to see all the trees in the Garden of Eden. He said to him: "See how beautiful are My works. All that I have created I have made for you. But be careful that you do not ruin My world, for if you do, there is no one else to put right what you have destroyed."
How fatefully those words echo now. We are today consuming our children's tomorrow. Before it is too late we must learn environmental habits of reverence, responsibility and restraint.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Now a countertrend is gathering force, part of an unfolding transformation in the way the criminal justice system deals with repeat offenders. After punishment has been meted out and time has been served, political leaders, police officers, corrections officials, churches and community groups are working together to offer so-called re-entry programs, many modest in scope but remarkable nonetheless.
Inmates now meet with planners before their release to explore housing, drug treatment and job possibilities. Once the inmates are back outside, churches and community groups have been enlisted to take them by the hand and walk them through the transition home.
“What we’re witnessing is a great turning of the wheel in corrections policy,” said Ashbel T. Wall II, the Rhode Island corrections director.
As small boys they walked the few hundred yards to primary school together every day. At 3.15pm they ran out of the school gates to kick a football in the street and buy sweets in the nearby shop. When they became teenagers their interests were those of most young men: Premiership football, girls, clothes and music; and as young adults they grew devout together.Who do you think this refers to? Read the whole profile in The Observer, you may be surprised.
Would anyone use "fascist" to define what is our current goverment's direction? Isn't this definition of fascism from Wikipedia close to the what our president and his party are bringing us?
"We believe this is an ill-advised term and we believe that it is counter-productive to associate Islam or Muslims with fascism," said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations advocacy group.
"We ought to take advantage of these incidents to make sure that we do not start a religious war against Islam and Muslims," he told a news conference in Washington.
"We urge him (Bush) and we urge other public officials to restrain themselves."
Fascism is a radical totalitarian political philosophy that combines elements of corporatism, authoritarianism, extreme nationalism, militarism, anti-anarchism, anti-communism and anti-liberalism.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Nearly 30 percent of State Department employees based overseas in "language-designated positions" are failing to speak and write the local language well enough to meet required levels, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.Nothing like this should surprise me but, we fail to respect others and then we wonder why "they hate us for our freedom." They don't all hate us for our freedom but they soon will all hate us because of our pride and arrogance.
When asked if he thinks heaven is "closed to good Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus or secular people" he answered.
“Those are decisions only the Lord will make. It would be foolish for me to speculate on who will be there and who won't. ... I don't want to speculate about all that. I believe the love of God is absolute. He said he gave his son for the whole world, and I think he loves everybody regardless of what label they have.”
All of a sudden it's not important. Just like the Iraq war was gone from the news for the past month when everyone focused on the "war of the moment."
What does this say about us that we can swing from one crisis to the next so quickly, led by those who control the airwaves? Can we not pay attention to two or more things at once?
Watching Bush's speech.
Couldn't anyone of us have predicted what he'd say and written it for him too? "They hate us for our freedom, fight them there so we don't have to fight them here, etc., etc., etc."
Maybe if we had focused on terrorists instead of getting diverted to Iraq we would be a lot more secure today.
Today there is this letter to the editor in the LA Times:
Ex-convict Pat Nolan wrote as though these inmates were born in prisons, or that there were no public schools for them to attend when they were kids. Perhaps life in prisons should be made so dismal, painful and difficult that the actual experience would serve to deter more than just false hopes of rehabilitation of the inmates. Why not use fear to protect the law-abiding instead of the other way around? Criminals should be punished, literally, from the time they're incarcerated until they are released.I hardly know where to start my rant. This is such a typical reaction and is really the reason we never solve the crime problem in this country. We fail to properly educate or train our inner city youth, we don't provide adequate jobs and living wages for those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, we criminalize low level drug use instead of providing recovery assistance, we ignore the fact that over 90% of those incarcerated will be released and assume that just providing strict punishment will rehabilitate and prevent criminals from committing additional crimes.(Name omitted to protect the stupid.)
I'm not sure what planet this letter writing idiot is living on. Has he ever spent one minute in jail or prison? If he had he would know that life is no picnic even in so called "country club" facilities. Life in any prison facility is something no one would ever aspire to--unless our society provided no better alternative. Oh, I forgot, for the poor and poorly prepared for life in our culture there may not be a better alternative.
The people of my country, myself included, are now petrified of anybody whose skin is not either completely black or completely white. It's true, if I see a South Asian person walking towards me, the first thing that comes into my head is the word "bomb." I hate this thought but what can you do about it?It includes this version of "Melting Pot" which reflects his mixed up cultural references.
Some may come and some may go
He will surely pass
When the one that let us heal
Returns for us at last
We are but in the morning sunlight
Fading in the grass
Oh! Come on you people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now
Yes! Come on you people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now.