Archive for ‘Religion’

September 2, 2011

Typing In Tongues

by Vince

Interesting.

August 31, 2011

Political Cartoon of the Day

by Vince

August 29, 2011

Quote of the Day II: God Punished America with Hurricane Irene

by Vince


“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.” –Michele Bachmann on how she interpreted Hurricane Irene this past weekend.

Doug Mataconis adds some insight:

Of course, I’m not sure how this computes given the fact that the storm largely spared Washington, D.C. and New York, while hammering a red states like North Carolina and a heavily Republican area like Virginia’s Tidewater region.

Bachmann’s press secretary adds some extremely deep insight:

”Obviously she was saying it in jest.”

August 29, 2011

Quote of the Day

by Vince

“I don’t see Islam as our enemy. I see that motivation is occupation and those who hate us and would like to kill us, they are motivated by our invasion of their land, the support of their dictators that they hate,” –Ron Paul on how he sees America’s foreign policy, not Islam, as a threat to America.

August 28, 2011

The Oslo Massacre and Stereotyping Religious Groups

by Vince

This readers story from the Dish is eye opening:

I have a best friend who would take the shirt off his back to help (almost) anyone.  We’ve been friends since childhood (we’re now in our late 40s).  I’m a liberal atheist Democrat, he’s a conservative Christianist Republican.  Certainly if we had met as adults we would never have become friends. But because of our history we remain friends, despite our differences and our friendly, but increasingly, vehement arguments.

About a year-and-a-half into Obama’s presidency we had to agree to stop talking about politics and the world in order to preserve our long-standing friendship. He wasn’t quite a birther, but he suspected something quite wasn’t right there. Our final, incredible, blowout argument was over the “Ground Zero Mosque.” He had succumbed to the “Muslims are bad” theory and had become a bit zealous, even going as far as saying “Fox News is the only media outlet telling the truth.” Sigh. We screamed at each other, there was spittle, and HUGE anger; if we hadn’t known each other for so long it might have devolved into fisticuffs.  But, with incredible restraint, we remained friends; it was clear we were skirting around current topics and trying valiantly to stay the course without saying “you’re an idiot” to each other. We were hanging out a lot less frequently than we had previously. Sad, but necessary?

Finally, Norway was a breakthrough. I would not have broached the subject, to keep the peace, but his wife brought it up tonight at a backyard BBQ. I didn’t say a word for a long time; they talked it out. In essence, the conversation went like this:

Wife:  But he (Breivik) identified himself as a Christian.
My friend: Nope, he couldn’t be a Christian.
Wife:  I know, not any Christian we know or could identify with.
My friend:  Ridiculous how he says he’s Christian.
Wife: But it got me thinking about how a lot of Muslims say the terrorists aren’t true Muslims.
My friend (I was holding my breath at this point):  Yea, I’m starting to see that.  This crazy guy wants to represent Christians.  He’s fucking insane.  Maybe the 9/11 guys were insane too and didn’t represent Muslims?

He looked me in the eye at that point and … apologized. Ohmygod!  He said, “I never saw the other side.”  We both cried.  I’m trying not to be melodramatic here, but it was literally a life changing moment for my friend.  He had truly believed that Muslims were really bad and Christians were good, with some aberrations (he used the Tiller murder as an example of a bad Christian, but never would give that “aberration” description to any Muslim).  Anyway, tonight was unbelievable in my world.  One of my best friends, and a rabid Christianist, acknowledged that all Muslims weren’t bad.  Sounds simple?  But, really, a major breakthrough.

So maybe there is something positive to come out of the tragedy in Norway. Very sad to say that, but in my little world, it’s a positive thing.  Obviously this is incredibly anecdotal, but maybe there are other Christianists seeing that there are extremists who don’t represent all Christians just as there are Islamists who don’t represent all of Islam?

Know hope.

August 28, 2011

The Power of Adapting Hymns

by Vince


N.T. Wright reflects in his book Surprised by Hope on the final stanza in the hymn How Great Tho Art:

 “When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.”

The second line, Wright argues, might be better read “And heal this world, what joy shall fill my heart.” Actually, the original Swedish version of the hymn doesn’t talk about Christ coming to take me home; that was the translator’s adaption. Rather, it speaks of the veils of time falling, faith being changed into clear sight, and the bells of eternity summoning us to our Sabbath rest, all of which has a lot more to recommend it.

Wright’s book focuses on rethinking heaven, the resurrection, and the mission of the church. If you are interested in these topics or want to find a more unambiguous understanding of what the church should preach, it is worth finding at your local library.

August 27, 2011

Where Poverty Comes From

by Vince

A very interesting story:

Seth Masket effectively exposed the logical fallacy of French’s argument, but I want to point out the harmful nature of the argument itself.

I worked hard and got a good education, yet I am poor. I have no money and haven’t worked in years, and if it weren’t for my parents letting me stay with them I would be homeless. The notion that poor people are just lazy isn’t new. People have been asserting that Randian trope for years. French adds a claim that religious attendance (if this were true, Nigeria should be an economic superpower) and moral depravity are also to blame.

The problem with this argument is that I believed it.

It may seem obvious to others that someone who completed an undergraduate double major in three years and graduated from a top ten law school can’t really be described as “lazy” but it took *years* of therapy before I could even contemplate the idea that it wasn’t my fault, I am not lazy or a bad person, but that I am suffering from depression. It is still sometimes difficult for me to accept that this isn’t my fault, but French seems to have no problem assigning that blame.

I wonder how this affects other people who are living in poverty. It seems like if you tell people that they are poor because they are lazy and immoral, the message that you’re sending is that there is no hope. Unless you believe that the poor have just decided that they would prefer to be lazy and depraved and they can wake up one day and simply choose to become virtuous hardworking citizens.

I started receiving food assistance last December after hearing about the program from a neighbor. My parents would be struggling financially even if they weren’t paying for my therapy and medication, so I figured it would help a lot if they didn’t have to feed me as well. I get $200 a month which can only be used to buy unprepared food. A few days after I started receiving this I happened to hear my state’s new House Speaker, Jase Bolger, talking about plans to limit the program I had just joined. He made it clear that he was doing this to *help* people on assistance:

“Michigan should help its citizens break the cycle of dependency, not create one for them,” Bolger said.

Really? $200 a month for food is going to create a cycle of dependency? People would go out and get a job but they just don’t want to give up that free six and a half dollars a day of food? The minimum wage in Michigan is $7.40/hr, and you think people are not working because you’re giving them less than that a day in food assistance? If there really are people with such an epic level of laziness I would suggest that the threat of starvation will not magically turn them into hardworking, moral citizens.

I like capitalism. I believe it is very effective and I value the freedom that it brings. But free markets are not bags of pixie dust that can be sprinkled on all of societies problems, and all of the failures of the market cannot be blamed on the moral failings of the less fortunate.

H/T: The Dish

August 26, 2011

Faith Questions for the GOP Candidates

by Vince

Bill Keller asks some good questions. Unfortunately, candidates such as Michele Bachmann may just not answer with a yes or no.

August 21, 2011

Prayer of the Day

by Vince

As only NASCAR can fill this hole:

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July 30, 2011

Quote of the Day II

by Vince

“Drawing upon modern Catholic social thought and the work of Thomas Aquinas’ political thinking, the goal of law and political authority is to serve, enhance, and protect the common good of society …  It is perhaps ironic – or tragic – that the common good is the one element that seems to be missing from the current national debate.  This seems to be due to the fact that the ideology that holds the most momentum right now in our political system – and hence that controls the terms of our debate – is the far-right ideology represented most vocally by the tea-party movement (but engaged by others as well).

This ideology, rather than upholding the common good as the end and goal of government and law, sees government as the very source of the problem.  Therefore, those who propound this ideology are seizing upon this moment of debate over government spending, taxation and revenue creation, and the debt ceiling as an opportunity to starve government at its source by cutting off its supply of money.  Some of the more extreme elements seem entirely willing to let the whole system come to a crashing halt rather than think about long-term solutions that seek to protect the common good of all involved.” –Thomas Bushlack on common good and if Jesus would raise the debt ceiling.

July 11, 2011

Slamming the Family Leader Pledge

by Vince

Gary Johnson does just that:

“This ‘pledge’ is nothing short of a promise to discriminate against everyone who makes a personal choice that doesn’t fit into a particular definition of ‘virtue,'” reads a statement from Johnson’s office, which is accompained by a video: 

July 11, 2011

Quote of the Day II

by Vince

“You can tell you’ve created God in your own image if he or she hates all the same people you do.” Anne Lamott in her book Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

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July 11, 2011

Quote of the Day

by Vince

“Government should not be involved in the bedrooms of consenting adults. I have always been a strong advocate of liberty and freedom from unnecessary government intervention into our lives. The freedoms that our forefathers fought for in this country are sacred and must be preserved. The Republican Party cannot be sidetracked into discussing these morally judgmental issues — such a discussion is simply wrongheaded. We need to maintain our position as the party of efficient government management and the watchdogs of the “public’s pocket book”.

“This ‘pledge’ is nothing short of a promise to discriminate against everyone who makes a personal choice that doesn’t fit into a particular definition of ‘virtue’.

Republican candidate for president Gary Johnson.

July 2, 2011

Affably Loco

by Vince

Mike Huckabee, I suppose, is following his calling. He is not running for president but feeding his sheep/flock on a cruise. This isn’t just any cruise, but an evangelical cruise with hints of insanity:

“It’s the first time I’ve felt the president wasn’t a true American. And that he wants to become a dictator. We didn’t like seeing him get elected because of his race,” – Maggie Benedict, a participant in the Freedom Cruise, a Christian gospel music extravaganza, hosted by Mike Huckabee.

July 2, 2011

Is This Immoral?

by Vince

To be a Rhinestone Christian?

June 30, 2011

Pride and Prejudice: Reflecting on New York’s Marriage Law (Part 3)

by Vince

I want to focus on three pragmatic issue points regarding same-sex marriage. They may span the general topic of same-sex marriage or something specific to New York.

  1. “Same-sex marriage is doing a big no no: it is redefining traditional marriage”. This message has cropped up across the anti-same sex marriage spectrum, from Pat Robertson on the 700 club to intellectuals at the NRO. You can’t redefine traditional (American, not Biblical) marriage because it has never been done before in any civilization or nation. To some, America is doomed because we have opened the Pandora box and begun to accepted (and even show love, not bigotry (why do some Christians worship on Sundays their lord of love but flamethrow the other days of the week?) for) same-sex marriage couples and their relationships.

Steven Taylor explains just a smidgen of the falsehood in the claim that marriage has never been redefined before. His piece is worth a full read but I will give you a paragraph or so:

“…the very fact that there were laws forbidding interracial marriage demonstrates the degree to which marriage has been a creature of legislation.  And, as I noted the other day, the involvement of government in marriage is essentially escapable.  So, at least from a legal point of view, marriage hasbeen redefined in living memory.”

Taylor delves into the story of Jacob of the Torah who had an interesting “marriage”. Indeed marriage has evolved since the days of marriages arranged by fathers, bride prices, bigamy, and sanctioned adultery.

2. “Same-sex marriage was legislated by liberal thugs, liberal tyrants, and (insert any other foaming at the mouth ad hominem, non-reality based stereotype)”. These sad canards crop up at the NRO, even to the point of comparing the New York state legislative process to fascist North Korea.
Faith in Public Life has continually brought the cut throat discussions in politics back to where they should be: to a humanized form. Ad hominem stereotypes distort and distract conversations to the point that we are no longer are talking about humans equal to us (and made in the image of God: imago deo) but “the gays”. FIPL provided a few news ads and commentary that helps with the now everpresent topic of same-sex marriage post-New York.

3. “Gays are going to sue religious organizations for discrimination”. This was an issue for the four Republican legislators in New York. Would there be enough protection for churches and organizations that may have objections to serving same-sex weddings or events so that they are not liable for discrimination? In a brief paragraph, yes, those protections are in place:

One of the most striking things about the week-long battle was how much of it hinged on the canard that worked so well for anti-marriage activists in California: If gay marriage is passed, religious organizations will be forced to marry same-sex couples, and businesses that object to homosexuality will be sued for refusing to provide their services at gay weddings. Under current law, religious leaders already can’t be compelled to sanctify a same-sex union, making this bill’s provision a politically motivated redundancy. Whether passing a same-sex marriage law without a religious exemption for businesses makes a difference is a more murky question. City and state nondiscrimination laws might have required businesses to provide their services at gay weddings—a protection the law passed yesterday supersedes. But it’s hard to imagine too many people in the wedding industry turning down money, and which gay couple would want to hire a homophobic organization anyway?

June 27, 2011

Pride and Prejudice: Reflecting on New York’s Marriage Law (Part 1)

by Vince

The passing on Friday of the New York state law allowing same-sex couples to marry (which kicks in in 30 days) was monumental. The population of the Empire State alone (19 some million people) outnumbers the five other relatively small Northeastern states (and Iowa /D.C.).

This law, and many other important events, are going to be almost magnified in importance as we approach the 2012 election. Each candidate, including the incumbent, will be asked what they think about the new law in New York, if it should or shouldn’t come down to the state legislatures deciding on such matters, and if this could possibly be a national law in the coming decade.

One of the major issues that stood out in crafting the same-sex marriage law in New York was religious protections for churches, organizations, and the like. The Right has let out some steam on this issue, comparing New York to North Korea and insisting that anti-same sex marriage is not anti-homosexuality but really pro-marriage. What has been surprising and refreshing is to see many members of the Right and Republican Party rebuke their own side and agree with passing this law. This floor speech is worth watching for it captures some of the roots of the small government / libertarian in most Republicans as well as religious protection:

Even Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has some nuanced respect for the New York law.

David True calls those paying attention to see that this law is not solely about saving same-sex couples from an encroaching government with its “moralistic” laws but ” it is about claiming the legal right (with the help of government) to make a huge commitment, indeed, one of the most profound and traditional commitments one can make.” True describes marriage as “an unfolding story”, one that can have “us appreciate what has come before” as well as recognize the “cultural revolution” upon us as part of the timeline.

Marriage in this view can even be compared to God. Both marriage and God are infinite spheres (the former of love and commitment, the latter of the same as well as a divine expanse of justice, judgement, and redemption). Neither can be fully grasped with words here on earth. If anything, words at times can hold these two back and muddle their true essences. In the end, participating with both provide more than words ever could.

(Pictured: The First Presbyterian Church of NYC on 5th Ave & 12th St., which was on the Pride Parade route. The congregants passed out water and hung a huge welcome banner, complete with triangles.

June 22, 2011

Quote of the Day II

by Vince

“There’s very little Christ, very little Jesus, in these people who are fighting Rob Bell.” -Eugene Peterson, explaining why he endorsed Bell’s new book, Love Wins.

June 20, 2011

Delusional Depictions of Barack

by Vince

I am starting to wonder where people get the idea that Obama is anti-fatherhood (or parenting) as well as a non-Christian. Let’s start with the first one.

Yesterday was Father’s Day. Obama circulated a message via email, radio address, and in People magazine. It doesn’t deviate from what he has talked about before (being raised fatherless) or how he lives his life today (a married father of two). Yet some on the right are surprised?

I know. So many of his policies do so much harm. I wish he would see the full picture. We need a president who does. We need leaders who do. But count me among those who are grateful Barack Obama is talking about the importance of fatherhood.

This beginning paragraph is somewhat of a ramble that I cannot find connecting to what Barack says about Father’s Day. By the way, good luck finding that president who sees the full picture. I find it funny and ironic that the GOP can hold the mantle of responsible, moral families when it is lead by Karl Rove (who has a gay dad) and Sarah Palin (who has a daughter who had a child out of wedlock). What about the Democratic president with the picturesque family?

This is not Bill Bennett or James Dobson. This is not National Review or the Knights of Columbus. This is Barack Obama in People.

Again, is there an expectation that Barack is to be advocating an extreme opposite of father’s being present in the lives of their children and family?

Now on to Barack and his faith. He obviously has been smeared by the right (the meme wasn’t helped by Hilary Clinton’s own mud slinging) as a Muslim, unwilling to commit to a church, and is a Democrat so he can’t be a real, true Christian (the party of God, the GOP, cannot answer without rationalizing why God would side with a pro-war, pro-rich, and mostly white party). I showed the following speeches to a friend:

My friend was blown away when he saw these videos:

Wow i got to say i’m impressed with Obama’s speech!  … maybe being President is changing his views on God and faith.

Changed from what?

June 18, 2011

2008 GOP Candidates on the Inerrancy of The Bible

by Vince

The full transcript here. It’s worth reading. Money quote by none other than Mike Huckabee:

And as the only person here on the stage with a theology degree, there are parts of it I don’t fully comprehend and understand, because the Bible is a revelation of an infinite god, and no finite person is ever going to fully understand it. If they do, their god is too small.