Saturday, December 20, 2008

Helen Thomas: Last Woman Sitting

An older post [September 2007] while I am on sabbatical.

She gets the last laugh. Good folks always do. The scoundrels scamper off after pooping on the carpet. They always do.

The veteran White House correspondent who has sat in that press room ever since John Kennedy was elected, mused on the departure of Tony Snow in her latest article, Like others before him, Tony Snow drifts out of the White House.

She must feel vindicated realizing that she still sits there but three Bush press secretaries have bit the dust. Vindicated also by the fact that she was relegated to the back row of the room because she was asking questions of Mr. Bush deemed 'too tough.'

It must feel good knowing that for all of her 57 year career, she has been true to her vocation. Regardless of the party of the president, she would ask the tough questions. Only this administration could not handle them. Thus her back-row seat.

Brings to mind Rosa Parks. Another sage woman who grew tired of Jim Crow in the back seat of the bus. Women who sat in the back but shouted their truths to the very front.

The last lines of her Tony Snow article especially caught my eye. She said:

"As a showman, he was able to deflect tough questions with the lift of an eyebrow, or by expressing mock astonishment that anyone would dare to question the president's motivations.
It was a great game and he played it well. Someday he may ponder whether he was true to his chosen profession of journalism, which upholds the people's right to know what is being done in their name."

Indeed it does, Ms. Thomas. Hats off to you!

Friday, December 19, 2008

"The Single, Most Important Image Ever Taken By Humanity."

A post from September 2007 while I am on sabbatical

The Hubble Deep Field Video on YouTube is a fascinating 5 minutes of viewing that attempts to show just how enormous the universe is. Great narration and background music add to the wonder of it all. Here is the video on large screen.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"I can operate as an intelligent free agent."

An older post [August 07] while i'm on a self-imposed sabbatical until the Inauguration.

That title line is on page 38 of the book, The Spiral Staircase, by Karen Armstrong. The rest of the book's title is, 'My climb out of darkness.' Armstrong became a Catholic nun but, after 7 years in the convent, she left the order. Her leaving was not smooth and she had physical problems emanating from the stressful stifling of her life as a nun.

That line, "I can operate as an intelligent free agent," The metaphor she uses to describe her life is of a Chinese woman whose feet are tightly bound, as was an ancient custom. She refers to her brain as being similarly bound tightly during her years in the convent. Then she says of the woman, "If the restraints had been removed too late and she would never walk normally again."

I think of children who are raised with their brains likewise bound by the overpowering belief system of their parents. Children who are not permitted to think beyond the imposed boundaries of their authoritarian parents. Often these 'beliefs' have been handed down from their parents and grandparents.

Easily coming to mind is racism, 'carefully taught' to one generation after the other. Ethnic hatred is another damnable, taught belief, which can be seen throughout the world. African and the Middle Eastern cultures are skilled agents of ethnic hatred.

I think also of those children who are indoctrinated in religious beliefs at a tender age. Author Karen Anderson entered the nunnery as a teen, taking with her all of the Catholic beliefs that were indoctrinated in her 12 years of Catholic school. Authoritarianism, we read in her story, was extreme, even for a church traditionally steeped in top-down mandates.

And so she utters the words of freedom as she exits the convent. Freedom to think, at long last. Freedom to make up her own mind about that 'faith' that engulfed her and nearly drowned her. My own faith story is much like hers, having grown up in a house where religiosity ruled the roost. I nearly drowned too.

My mind could never get around those bible stories I was fed; something seemed odd about it all. Naturally, I could never articulate my confusion because, after all, 'God wrote it.' Then there was the Jesus story with all of the magic, especially at the beginning and end of the story. Was Jesus human or divine? Whose chromosomes made up the other 23, I wondered in high school when I learned the biology of the fertilization of the egg. How could a 'super-man' be an example to we humans? So many questions and no room for answers.

I think about one family I know who are evangelical Christians with 4 children. The Bible rules in that family and weekly Wednesday bible class was mandatory. Now some are off to college where they will meet others of different faith traditions, or no faith at all. How will they cope with it all? Will their brains remain bound tightly like the feet of the Chinese woman? Or will the bandage be ripped off by new insights, new ways of thinking?

Those events may not be pleasant and the child may begin to think that, for all of those years, they were fed a load of nonsense, passed on from generation to generation. Hopefully, there will be no resultant emotional damage through the process. Yet, I wouldn't doubt that there will be many permanent emotional scars.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Solar Ethics: it Beats the Bible

I offer an older post [August 2007] for review while on a self-imposed sabbatical until the Inauguration.

Don Cuppit's interesting theory of ethical behavior can be found in his 1995 book, Solar Ethics. In the book he describes the 'moral life' as living as one wants to. Using an analogy with the sun, he says that people should live their life fully in the midst of others (and for others), unashamedly declaring who they are (and want to be). This is in stark contrast to the view which says that the best life for us is the one lived for God, and as God decrees it should be lived.

His website says this: "He rejects all ideas of gaining salvation by escaping from this world of ours. "All this is all there is", he says and he now sees true religion in terms of joy in life and an active attempt to add value to the human lifeworld."

Why the sun? Cupitt says, "We should live as the sun does. Its existence, the process by which it lives, and the process by which it dies, all exactly coincide. It believes nothing, it hasn't a care, it just pours itself out. Its heedless lifegiving generosity is its glory."

His newest  book is titled, Above Us, Only Sky. Surely this title will wrinkle the panties of our fundamentalist folks even more than Solar Ethics.

They need a good wringing out anyway. How the modern American can cling to the 3-tired Heaven-Earth-Hell structure of life is beyond my ability to fathom.

My life-long friend and frequent poster on this blog, Upthe Flag, is now living in the Evangelical South and keeps me up-to-date with the latest happenings there in the Bible Belt. Both of us shared grade and high school together and each of us went off to a Jesuit University. This Jesuit education expanded our thinking and enriched our philosophical brains. We both have trouble with organized religion, although he has not yet declared the God of Abraham a myth. Perhaps he will comment about that here.

I am drawn to Cupitt's theological/philosophical statement, he sees true religion in terms of joy in life and an active attempt to add value to the human lifeworld. That is a wonderful thought and surely more attractive than that hell and brimstone fanatical pulp spewing out of the mouths of those self-righteous fundamentalists.

How simple it is: joy of life while adding value to life. Jesus would approve, I'm quite sure.

"We should live as the sun does. Its existence, the process by which it lives, and the process by which it dies, all exactly coincide. It believes nothing, it hasn't a care, it just pours itself out. Its heedless lifegiving generosity is its glory."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jesus Camp:The Dangerous Evangelical Christian

I present this post from August 2007 while I am on self-imposed sabbatical until the Inauguration.

My wife queued up Jesus Camp for our Saturday night movie last evening. That was a shocker! Childhood indoctrination and hate fairly well sum up that film. Here's a link to the subject matter: Wikipedia

The camp itself was scary enough, but that was only one week in the lives of the children. The other 51 weeks were merely a less intense version of the camp experience. Young minds of 8,9, 10-year olds brainwashed with religious intolerance and hate makes the viewer want to vomit. What do these young people need to know about aborted babies? Why do they have to act out a play with swords and army camouflage paint? Why must they be driven to sobbing tears over their 'sins?'

If there ever was a documented case of child abuse this was it.

A cardboard George Bush was 'venerated' one evening.

The parents were happy to have their children learn the lessons which were reinforced at home during home-schooling. One 'science' lesson debunked evolution. The student was fed the theological data and was not able to have a differing opinion. Public schools were openly criticized as was liberal thought.

The scariest aspect of this movement is that they vote. It is their goal, as stated in the film, to change America into a Christian nation through the ballot box. And there are an estimated 80,000,000 evangelical Christians world-wide and here in America 25% of adults consider themselves evangelical; and they vote in high percentages.

Dangerous religious zealots whose goal is the overthrow of the government of the United States. And there is a whole generation of brainwashed children ready to enter the voting booth in a few years.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bin Laden wanted US to invade Iraq, Bush Granted His Wish

While I am on a self-imposed hiatus until the Inauguration, I offer another old past, this from August 2007.

Bin Laden wanted US to invade Iraq, author says, is the headline from ABC News. The article begins:

" As coalition troops continue to die on Iraqi soil and the US Government's military spending on the war bleeds into billions of dollars, a new book says that not only could this have been avoided, but it was all predictable, as long as you had read the Al Qaeda manual.

Abdul Bari Atwan is one of the only Western journalists to have interviewed Osama bin Laden, spending three days with him in the mountains of Afghanistan in 1996.

He is the editor-in-chief of the London-based Arabic newspaper, Al-Quds Al-Arabia, and the author of The secret history of Al Qaeda."

Well, our neardowell president granted bin Laden's request with real gusto! Seems the Bush family has been enamored with the House of Saud for many years. They must have some 'spell' that they cast on the Bushes and lead them around with a ring through their noses. How many 9-11 bombers were from Saudi Arabia? Or, doesn't that count?

The American people have been buffaloed by the House of Saud and apparently the bush Family is like Jell0 in their hot little hands. We suspected that Dick Cheney was Bush's Puppetmaster, but we didn't realize that the House of Saud was the producer/director.

A question arises which is extremely important: Has the American electorate learned any lessons from the Bush fiasco? Asleep on 9-11, a war perpetrated on lies, 3600 American military deaths, and nearly a trillion dollars drained from the Treasury.

What is the lesson, my fellow Americans? What lesson did you miss 7 years ago and 3 years ago? Go ahead, give me the answer: what lesson did you sleep through in high school civics class?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Kenneth Parker: Artist Photographer

Another old post [July 07]

Kenneth Parker is a large-format landscape colorist working principally in remote pristine wilderness areas throughout the world where he has trekked and kayaked extensively. He is inexorably drawn to the elemental earth/ocean forces and their compelling magic, translating into arresting imagery the depths of these feelings, rich in power, radiant. His early experience as fine art color pioneer Eliot Porter’s field assistant helped to nurture a loving eye devoted to isolating and capturing the mysteries in nature that he struggled for decades to unravel as a research scientist in oceanography and global climate change. Paul Caponigro has also been a principal influence on his development as a consistent mentor to Parker since the mid-70s.

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