Saturday, May 16, 2009

Defend Whose Honor?

Those goofy Notre Dame demonstrators hold a sign that reads, 'Defend Her Honor' with a likeness of Mary -albeit an awfully European one.  Defend her honor.  Yep, that's what it says.

I wonder if we could call upon a wordsmith to decode that three-word phrase for us.  What does abortion have to do with the mother of Jesus?  Or does this have something to do with the 'virgin birth' scenario?  Curious indeed and marvelously obtuse as well.

The honor of Mary.  [I'm trying all sentence constructions] To honor: 
  • noun:   a woman's virtue or chastity
  • noun:   the quality of being honorable and having a good name
Chastity, well as Jesus had several brothers and a sister, chastity is out.  Good virtue and having a good name- we know very little about Mary except for the additions to the Gospels and a few minor passages.

Mary bore Jesus out of wedlock but didn't go to an abortion clinic, so perhaps that's what these fundamentalist Catholics refer to with their signs on the Notre Dame campus.

Who knows for sure?  Yet, I'm betting that these same protesters weren't in the streets or on corners with NO WAR! placards back in late 2002 and early 2003 when George W. Bush was hawking his war on Iraq.  That's my bet. Nor, do I imagine them marching in front of the White House with WE DO NOT TORTURE! signs either. Rather, these anti-abortion folks in general curiously avoid the war, torture and death penalty scenarios.  Apparently some lives are more precious than others.

Who would Jesus bomb?  Who would Jesus execute?  Who would Jesus torture?

Notre Dame Is Board Member of Pro-Condom Organization

That's what the 'news headline' says on the Notre Dame Scandal website. Gosh, pro-condom, is he! Such heresy! Who could have imagined a Catholic priest handing out condoms? Quick, say a rosary!

In fact, it gets even worse. Check out this statement: "Any Catholic university that supports a program to reduce poverty by eliminating poor children has a serious problem."

Yes, that's what they said. Those 'poor children' deserved to be poor and the Catholic Church wants them to be born into poverty, whether or not the mother wants more children.

In reference to George W. Bush, no doubt, here's one more statement: "We are blessed in this country by the presence of many honorable leaders who promote the defense of innocent life..."

Yes, George W. Bush, who ordered the preemptive war on Iraq surely is one of those 'honorable leaders' because, after all, he spoke at the graduation ceremony a few years ago. Torture, prisoner abuse, and bombing a city of 5,000,000 clearly indicates an 'honorable leader who promotes the defense of innocent life.'

Fundamentalist Catholics are a hoot, just as other fundamentalist christians and, of course their brothers and sisters in the Islamic and Jewish faith. They always know what's BEST for all of us and would love it if our entire nation were just like them. Too bad, isn't it, that we have to live in a nation that tolerates all forms of worship, even no worship at all.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Happy Agnostic

Bart Ehrman describes himself as a "happy agnostic."  Of course, lots of people do, but his case is not so ordinary because he used to be a fundamentalist Christian.
 CNN has his story:

He says he's not trying to destroy your faith. He's not trying to bash the Bible. And, though his mother no longer talks to him about religion, Ehrman says some of his best friends are Christian.  In Ehrman's latest book, "Jesus, Interrupted," he concludes:

Doctrines such as the divinity of Jesus and heaven and hell are not based on anything Jesus or his earlier followers said.

At least 19 of the 27 books in the New Testament are forgeries.

Believing the Bible is infallible is not a condition for being a Christian."

Christianity has never been about the Bible being the inerrant word of God," Ehrman says. "Christianity is about the belief in Christ."

Ehrman also does not believe in the resurrection, either.

But some people can't believe an agnostic can be happy, he says. They tell him that they're praying for him. Others say worse. They say he's being fooled by Satan and he's headed to hell. Some say he's the anti-Christ.

Lots of fundamentalists say odd stuff like that because they think that, if they don't, then something bad might happen to them- like loss of Heaven or some other childish thought. It seems that the fundamentalist must always be in someone else's business, watching, scolding, threatening. I've been subjected to that very behavior on this blog, but I, too, just laugh at the stupidity of it all.

They seem so serious about something so mysterious, so ethereal, so vapid. I wonder what caused them to be this way? Surely early indoctrination as children as well as family history play significant roles in maintaining this queer view of this world and that supernatural one they wish to attain.

CNN concludes the article with these lines:

Whether it's his family, critics or students, Ehrman says he has a better handle on why he is so threatening to so many people -- some Christians worry they will make the same decision he has.

"I changed my mind," he says. "My students find me more dangerous that way. I really do know what they're talking about when they stake out an evangelical position."

I'm learning about that, too, Mr. Ehrman, just from the many encounters I've had with evangelicals on this blog. And, I'm a happy agnostic as well!

Mad Hatter Tea Party Coming to Toledo

Politics in Toledo is a hoot, unless you are one of its citizens who expect your government to serve you effectively.  Then, the story shifts to a dark tragedy.  Beyond the closing of businesses, the lay-offs, the bleak economic outlook, there are the comic characters- dressed as politicians- that pop up like Muppet figures, albeit sans humor.

The main character in this tragedy is the ne'er-do-well  mayor, Carleton S. Finkbeiner- a cross between Howdy Doody and Oscar the Grouch, with a splash of Dick Cheney and Goofy. He and the dopey city council of Toledo don't talk to each other.  In fact, the mayor doesn't talk to anybody unless he has the upper hand in the conversation.  The less-than brilliant citizens elected him to three terms, but now there will be an initiative on the ballot this fall to oust him from his last three months in office- about 3 years, 9 months too late.

Enter a new set of characters: the Tea Party Gang.  Yes, those no-tax, head-in-the-sand malcontents who sat on their hands all throughout the disastrous Bush years, are offering this bruised and beaten city a slate of candidates for city council.  Imagine that: a clutch of folks whose only interest is in slashing taxes wants to run a city of 300,000 during this economic morass.

Then, in a cameo performance,  entering stage right, is convicted Tom Noe conduit Maggie Thurber who, disgraced by the scandal,  is now a paid broadcaster for WSPD and a columnist for the Toledo Free Press.  

The Blade reports:  "Thurber, a former Republican Lucas County commissioner, a columnist for The Toledo Free Press, a free weekly publication, and a show host for WSPD, said she helped Ms. Lyons with organizing the Tea Party, but has not been involved in her foray into politics." Oh sure, we can believe that, Ms Thurber.

A convicted conduit is just one more odd character thrown into this Toledo brew.  Thurber has yet to apologize for her misdeeds, but, like most Republicans, she can't seem to mouth the words, "I'm  sorry for what I did."  It will be quite interesting to see how she will stir up the Tea Party Gang and offer advice on how to 'obtain' financing for their political campaign.  Surely she and her three other convicted compatriots- the ladies in black and white stripes- are quite savvy in fund-raising follies. 

Finally, and adding quite a sharp spice to the brew is right-wing radio.  It seems that local Clear Channel affiliate WSPD, host of Limbaugh, Hannity and other far-right wing gagglers, has its dirty hands in the tea party tempest. Jon Stainbrook, Lucas County Republican Party chairman, said that the head of the Tea Party organization appears to be getting encouragement and support from WSPD-Radio. He said, "There was a meeting with [WSPD reporter] Kevin Milliken and other Clear Channel employees and they were discussing the formation of this other political party." Right-wing radio, a bitter condiment, adding just the right 'flavoring' to make the brew just right for the citizens of Toledo to enjoy.

Holy Toledo!  Surely this beaten-down city deserves better that this.  Where are the real leaders, anyhow? Can we not find a dozen sensible, thoughtful and honorable citizens of this city who will step forward and lift Toledo up to a much higher plane,  with a much more honest and open government?  Or will Toledoans, once again, drink the Kool Aid-laced tea that is offered to them each election cycle?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

35,000 Year Old Paleolithic Art Figurine

Excavations at a cave in the Swabian Jura area of southern Germany have recovered a female figurine carved from mammoth ivory. It lay among bones of a horse, reindeer, cave bear, mammoth and ibex. The figurine is the earliest depiction of a human, and  one of the oldest known examples of figurative art worldwide, was made at least 35,000 years ago. This discovery radically changes our views of the context and meaning of the earliest Paleolithic art.

It was thought that a masterpiece of artistry like this was not possible among the paleolithic people living in that region of Europe, but there she is in all of her over-sexual glory [sans head]. Why no head? Who knows, but there is a hole just above the shoulders that suggests that she was worn as a pendant. Archaeologists suggest that she was part of a fertility rite.

Although artistic representations of animals have been discovered that date to this time period, this is the first 3-D human ever found. The 'Venus of Hohle Fels' as she is named, will be a center piece for a major exhibit in Stuttgart entitled Ice Age Art and Culture, which will run from September 18, 2009 – January 10, 2010. Too bad I was there two years ago; quite bad timing.

Those Odd Obituary Photos

I'm at the age where the reading of the obituary page is high on my list. Luckily I have not been featured there, but, I have one request of my family- no teenage photo, please! Take the photo at right, for example. The dead man was 85, for crying out loud. Did he do anything beyond his stint in the army back in 1945? Were there no other photos of the man during his eight and a half decades on earth beyond his army service?

Then there are those awful photos of infants, some still with tubes running up their noses that parents put in the newspaper. Such an insult to their few weeks on this earth. And why an 'obituary' on the infant anyway? An obituary is to tell the life story of the deceased.

Several times over the past decade, I've had to decide on a proper photo for the obituary column for someone of my own family. Luckily there were many from which to choose. As each person was well into their adult years, a mature photo seemed appropriate- one which would represent the prime time of their lives. After all, at age 85 or 90 or 70, we aren't what we were in our high school years.

Memories or nostalgia? There is a subtle difference between the two. Dear family, if you read this [they actually don't] please forgo my senior high school photo when choosing my obit picture. I'm not that naive young punk any longer. I last saw him driving his '60 Pontiac Catalina at a high rate of speed down the highway many years ago.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Right-wing Radio Profits Tanking

SAN ANTONIO - CC Media Holdings Inc., the parent of radio broadcaster Clear Channel Communications Inc. and operator of five Toledo-area radio stations, this week reported a first-quarter loss of $418 million.

The disappointing earnings, which followed two rounds of layoffs affecting 2,400 employees, compare with an $800 million profit in the year-earlier period.


How about that. Seems people are growing tired of listening to the blow hard babble on Clear Channel. Maybe their audience has wised-up and realized that they've been hoodwinked for the past decade or so by the likes of Hannity, Beck and Limbaugh. Or maybe they're just dying off with no younger replacements. What 20-something would care to listen to the nonsensical tripe flowing from the mouths of any of these dolts?

Further, one may recall how Clear Channel was the media monkey for the Bush War on Iraq with parking lot parties, flags, and 'patriotic' speeches prior to the preemptive invasion in early 2003- freedom fries and all. That was a load of crap.

Rather, it seems 'clear' from the last election that Americans are pretty much done with right-wing noise outlets and prefer to get their 'news' from more reliable sources. The ditto machine has run out of fluid. C'est la vie!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pharisees in Findlay

"The question as I see it is, should a Christian place themselves at an event where young ladies will have low-cut dresses and be dancing in them?" the principal wrote. "Isn't it contrary to the example of Joseph and the verses that I stated?"

Tyler Frost is banned from graduation at the school he has attended for the past 13 years for going to prom with his girlfriend. His attendance was against policy at the 84-student Baptist school, Heritage Christian School, which forbids dancing, rock music, and hand-holding. Tyler was photographed walking into the prom holding hands with his date. Effective yesterday, Tyler is suspended for the last two weeks of school and can't take part in graduation activities.

So the low-cut dresses of the women were the problem, right minister? It's always the women, beginning with Eve. God's wife, the Goddess, is dead in the Christian faith. How sad and how very troubling for those who espouse that line of worship.

And sex, too. My oh my, how those good and righteous Christians fear that 3-letter word! Low-cut dresses. Hand-holding! Dancing face to face. The immorality of it all makes one shudder.

"The question as I see it is, should a Christian place themselves at an event where young ladies will have low-cut dresses and be dancing in them?" the principal wrote. "Isn't it contrary to the example of Joseph and the verses that I stated?"

The principal posted a statement to parents about the situation on the school's Web site, using Bible verses to support the school's position. The principal quoted parts of the Old Testament about Joseph fleeing a place of temptation.

Wow! The OT. Concubines, slaughter of entire villages, burning of crops, stoning of children, vengeance, wrath and other sordid details of how God's people ought to behave. Nice reference, principal. We'll take all of that into consideration as we use that reference to help mold our children into caring adults.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Super Glue and Moses

And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Write thou these words, for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.' 

And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten words.

And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing; and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and broke them beneath the mount.

Darned! Too bad the LORD did not give Moses some Superglue® along with the tablets- just in case. And why didn't the LORD supply Moses with some Titanium-based tablets which would have resisted breakage? So many questions, so few answers.

I thought about this scenario the other day as I glued together a stepping stone that has cracked. I bought a tube of professional all-purpose construction adhesive and in no time, it was a good as new. Too bad the LORD didn't give Moses a tube- just in case.

And Moses did not eat or drink for forty days and forty nights? Or was that only four? Mistake of the scribe, perhaps?

Myths, legends and tall-tales have a way of expanding over time until they are finally written down. Paul Bunyan, Hercules, Helen of Troy and Zeus grew larger and more virulent with each telling and re-telling of the story until they became, well, larger than life. Yet, once penned, their size and power arwere fixed for all time.

How many times did the story of Moses grow in size, depth and importance until some scribe took pen to parchment? One can only surmise.

Archaeologist Israel Finkelstein in his work, The Bible Unearthed, regards the Exodus as non-historical, at best containing a small germ of truth. Finkelstein points to the appearance of settlements in the central hill country around 1200 BCE, recognized by most archaeologists as the earliest settlements of the Israelites and suggests that the local Canaanites would adapt their way of living from an agricultural lifestyle to a nomadic one and vice versa. So, there would have been no need to 'exodus' that land to find greener pastures, so to speak. Further, the Egyptians have no record of any Israeli captivity in their historical records.

Myths and legends grow to immense proportions as they are told and retold, from father to son to grandson. So here we are in 2009, some 3,500 years after the Ten Commandments event, supposedly to believe this tall tale of incredibility. It works for children and for those adults who never grew out of that childlike belief system, but for any thinking, discerning adult, the entire episode is rather like a fictional MGM film classic.

Here's the question upon which one could dwell for some time: did the LORD know that the tablets were breakable and if so, why didn't he supply Moses with a caulking gun and a canister of construction adhesive- just in case?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Galileo's 400-year-old gift to humankind

"Galileo, perhaps more than any other single person, was responsible for the birth of modern science." So said Stephen Hawking. Other equally illustrious scientists have called Galileo "father of modern observational astronomy",the "father of modern physics", the "father of science", and "the Father of Modern Science."

The church called him a 'heretic' and, following a papal trial in which he was found vehemently suspect of heresy, Galileo was placed under house arrest and his movements restricted by the Pope. From 1634 onward he stayed at his country house at Arcetri, outside of Florence.

The church. Again, mortally wrong, but oh-so righteous. The church 'knows' the truth, what is 'right' and what is 'wrong.' So does the Bible.

Galileo's crime, naturally, involved his heretical concept that the earth revolved around the sun. Such speculation, nonsense and foolish thought sent him into house arrest for the rest of his life.

Religion, as we modern people know, mixes most poorly with scientific data, but science is, of course, the guilty one, never religion. Magicians, charlatans, medicine doctors, shamans and practitioners of voodoo make a living fooling people and they shun the light of reason as well as the light of day.  So too religion, with its mythical and mystical 'beliefs', which demand of its followers the full suspension of reality.  Rather than data, facts, and proofs, religious followers must carry around with them an artfully decorated yet empty box.  Inside- nothing.  Still, that emptiness is everything to them.

In May, 1609, four hundred years ago this month, Galileo began assembling his first telescope- a device that opened the world of space to him and to us, but which closed the doors of his house permanently around him.  Galileo- the first martyr for science.  Many thanks to you and shame on the church.

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