piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
so i am watching "the colbert report" with rick santorum, who has transmogrified from presidential candidate to movie producer. the movie is "the christmas candle". in it apparently an angel comes to a town every 25 years and blesses a candle. the candle is given to a family in need, and they're instructed to light it and to say a prayer over it. and then a miracle happens on christmas eve.

when colbert called the candle "miraculous", santorum was quick to point out that no, it wasn't the candle that was miraculous, but the prayer. "it's not like voodoo stuff, you know, it's a real prayer," says santorum.

the irony, it slays me. it's not like voodoo stuff, *snrk*.
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
the minnesota supreme court decided against norm coleman, and he's now actually conceded.

i've heard it argued (in the context of politics) that for liberals hypocrisy is the greatest sin, while for {religious} conservatives belief in the right values is more important, even if one occasionally fails at upholding them (because humans are imperfect sinners who are bound to fail at times).

as a broad generalization, i am inclined to believe that conservatives tell themselves that, and i have taken it under consideration when analyzing political events. but frankly, i think looking closely at actual cases makes them often hypocritical even under their own rules for behaviour.

it does make sense in certain situations -- a religious conservative who believes that homosexuality is deeply wrong will rail against it, and vote against it, but might succumb to the temptation if he has homosexual urges, and will afterwards profusely apologize for his failure -- and be forgiven by many of his constituents. rinse, lather, repeat (though usually much more quietly).

while an outright gay liberal will never be forgiven by those people, even if he lives in a monogamous relationship and never cheats -- because he holds the "wrong" belief that being gay and acting on it is acceptable.

what doesn't fit with this model are examples of conservaties being forgiving of conservatives who do bad act X and apologize, but not of {religious} liberals who do bad act X and apologize. edwards boo, sanford yay. how come?

or norm coleman, who argued at the end of the election that al franken should concede for the good of the voters -- but who didn't concede himself when the totals looks favourable for al franken, and instead dragged the whole thing out all the way to the minnesota supreme court (who decided for al franken just today). coleman deprived minnesota of a senator for 6 months, while he originally asked franken to consider the voters of minnesota. first he wasn't in favour of counting every legitimate vote, then he was in favour of counting even illegitimate votes if it would get him ahead.

coleman is just an example of this (and he's of a different religion); but i have oodles of them (and with christians). how is that sort of thing not hypocrisy first and foremost? coleman seems to very clearly have different rules for himself and his opponent, not one set of rules for everyone which he occasionally fails too.

and in how far does expected failure and forgiveness-when-apologizing drive continued failure? sanford promised his wife fidelity, and failed. when she found out, he promised her again, and failed again. how often can one repeat that cycle before realizing one needs to change something in a fundamental way? psychologically this strikes me as insane impractical and foolish decisionmaking.

i actually wanted to go elsewhere with this noodling, but it'll have to wait until i've had some food with which to feed my neurons.
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
some people on my dreamroll are angry because they see others describe the death of george tiller as ironic.

umm. i don't want to say this in response in their journals, but i don't quite understand. how is it _not_ ironic? a self-defined christian shot another christian at a christian place of worship. that's extremely ironic: an event in relevant and incisive contradiction to what one might normally expect. me, i don't think that christians go around murdering one another in this society, and especially not in church, so it comes as a bit of a shock. is this usage of the term uncommon?

yes, the incident is also a hate crime, and an act of terrorism, and no, of course christianity as a whole shouldn't be blamed for an extremist act of a few whose reading of the bible is apparently limited to leviticus, while disregarding matthew. ("an eye for an eye".)

those are not mutually exclusive with irony, are they?
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)

cotoneaster

slept most of the day, after spending my random drawing win from fictionwise -- 10% off my order, woohoo! i don't recall the last time i won something, and certainly never online.

still very caught up in the aftershocks of the election, watching the outstanding races. trying to avoid palin news, but since the long knives are out, that's sorta difficult. and a part of me likes to see that. i found her choice to be the most overall cynical and corrupt thing in this campaign; a true insult to people's intelligence as well as their sense of what should and should not be done in a political campaign. and part of me wants to not just see her go away, but wants the spirit she cast over the country to be staked and buried, so it won't ever return, wants the far-"christian" right to be decisively repudiated as the hateful stain they are on a nation that could be so much more.

i am all for getting together -- with people of character even if they believe in different economic principles, the right to bear arms, and the like. but just as those who would disdain and oppress a person for the colour of their skin need to be called out on it as woefully morally WRONG, so need those who would do the same thing to gays and to muslims.

on a more happy note, mangy-cat let me pet him today and purred up a storm. mangy-cat is a boy, as it turns out. and i don't know how long i can withstand taking him in. *wry grin*.
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
somebody on my flist rejoiced "we got another one" and linked to the minor news item of a catholic school principal getting charged with a misdemeanor because he was dressed as a woman, in fishnet stockings and black leather, with falsies, and "loitering" in an area known for drug trafficking and prostitution.

this bothers me.

i no longer feel schadenfreude over religious people getting caught with their pants down, so to speak, unless what they've done is abusive of another person, or they have actually been judgmental arses about the very thing they engage in before, and have censured other people for it. (there was a short period of time where i did feel like going "nya nya nya nya nyaaaa nya", but i got over it as my own religious upbringing mercifully receded into the mists of time.)

this isn't a priest abusing altar boys. it's irrelevant that he's a school principal; he did nothing bad involving a child.

what bothers me most is this: had "no reason for why he was in alley...dressed up in women's leather other than for prostitution."

how do they KNOW? maybe he just gets off on cross dressing in leather and walking around like that in public (and doing so in an area for prostitution makes sense because there at least he won't stand out too much). contrary to what idiots think even women who dress like this aren't "asking for it", unless they explicitly ask for it in so many words. and yeah, maybe he was looking for sex, but who says he did so for money? that's two hypotheticals, which is two too many as far as i am concerned. "loitering" should not be enough to charge somebody with prostitution. i want such laws off the books (heck, i want prostitution to be legal).

it sucks that an adult can't engage in harmless kinks without the serious danger of getting publicly humiliated. no wonder there are so many hypocrites; society forces its crummy hangups on people left and right.

us lefties should defend such people, even if they're catholic. maybe even more so then, because damn, they need more help to overcome the dumbfuck messages about sex which they get fed by their church.
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
i personally know a few christians who i consider to be actively using their religion to make the world a better place for all (i realize i would know more if i were a christian and participated in the right kind of church, so trust me, i am already extrapolating from those few). i personally know some more christians who try to make the world a better place for ... mostly their own kind, and while they're generally friendly towards me (at least at first, because hey, i could be convertable), i know they don't approve of my "lifestyle", and tend to pray for me -- patronizing me makes for short relationships, and since my former partner L grew out of zir christian phase, i no longer meet many such people (zir church was filled with them). i personally know a much larger number who seem to be christian by birth only, and it doesn't appear to affect their actions much -- they believe in god in a distant manner, and religion doesn't really inform their everyday life; i don't consider them "religious" like i consider the first and second groups.

but i live with a constant influx of news that show conservative christians undertake actions that are repugnant to me -- constant. not a day passes that i don't read about some christian in a position of leadership saying something outrageous -- and i am not seeking it out! it's not in particular these 24 people in saltillo [1] who cast a bad light on christianity (really, they hardly count at all; a mere drop in the bucket, and i even take a little heart that their pastor resigned), it's the ones who scream for anti-gay marriage amendments, for creationism in public schools, for the consistent rape of the environment (dominionism makes me furious), against sex education (heck, against any sex that's not of the married, missionary position kind), against feminist principles, against other religions, and for war. and i don't think you can blame the news for that, because these people do go out and vote accordingly, and their preachermen take to the airwaves and the net with gusto -- that all points directly to millions of christians who're IMO seriously in conflict with me about what matters, and who are perfectly willing to trample all over me and mine in their self-righteous pursuit of the bloody rapture or whatever heavenly afterlife they're imagining for themselves.

and these people seem to have a disproportionate influence on politics in the US. from surveys i've read, 75% of americans consider themselves to be christian, while 35% consider themselves born-again, fundamentalist, evangelical (and they don't even view more liberal christians as christians). they make a lot of noise, and they affect my life a great deal more than the other 40% who don't seem to be anywhere as politically active. so yes, i am letting that guide what i fear, because from what i can see they're hard at work towards the eradication of the church/state line, and are encroaching ever more on my personal liberties. fortunately they are much fewer in number in canada -- but i am really concerned that we now have a (minority government) prime minister who's one of them; that seems to be emboldening the ones we do have. i view this with much apprehension because the veneer of enlightened multi-culturalism and neutrality might as yet be too thin to withstand a concerted attack by people who seem to admire the state of affairs in the US.

so in effect, those 35% of christians account for 95% of my news about christianity, and those news are almost entirely negative, so much so that when i see a positive story, i write about it, to keep myself from falling down the rabbit hole. i try to make distinctions between fundamentalist christians and the rest, but really, it's not holding because the rest seem to be mostly silent, and i am tending towards "silence constitutes assent" when it comes to really important decisions. of course it doesn't help that my birth family belonged to a sect which believed in demon possession and was quite oppressive to anyone not toeing the line, which was part of what made my childhood hell -- and just a couple days ago i realized that while i once viewed them as extremely conservative, compared to US fundamentalists they were actually moderate, and retained a strong notion of the christian life as a life of service and stewardship instead of entitlement and dominion. and the thought made me shudder. because they were anything but moderate to live amongst in my reality as a child.

add to that occasional random personal encounters which tend towards the proselytizing kind, not the good samaritan one -- heck, the latter is often coupled with the former at salvation army collection points. i am tired of proselytizing. i grew up christian, in a christian society, how come you think i haven't heard the "good news"? i've heard it. it's coming out my ears. work on your own damn log already, will ya, and leave me alone. if god wants me, zie can damn well talk to me zirself.

all of that results in christianity having an image problem with me that's much worse than feminism's. i don't fear feminists. i fear christians.

[1] edited: the article was withdrawn by the newspaper. link is now to a rescue from google cache.
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
i just ranted about fundamentalists in the context of andrea yates elsewhere, but this NYT article cheered me a bit.

Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.

"When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross."

America wasn’t founded as a theocracy,” he said. “America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn’t bloody and barbaric. That’s why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state."


I am sorry to tell you,” he continued, “that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ.

Mr. Boyd lambasted the “hypocrisy and pettiness” of Christians who focus on “sexual issues” like homosexuality, abortion or Janet Jackson’s breast-revealing performance at the Super Bowl halftime show.


he only lost 1000 of his 5000 people strong congregation.  there is hope even among evangelical christians.

via [personal profile] joedecker.
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
any scholarly guesses as to whether jesus would have worn a beard and payot? how about tefillin? all day long, or only for prayer? a tallit? he was ragging on the pharisees in temple regarding their tefillin and tzitzit, but IIRC that might have only been about their ostentatiousness, not about their use per se.
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
US district judge john jones bitchslaps the dover school board.

some excerpts from the ruling.

"Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy."
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies, a research paper by gregory paul in the journal of religion and society.

some of the results:

  • the US is the only prosperous democracy that retains high homicide rates
  • there is a positive correlation between pro-theistic factors and juvenile mortality
  • rates of adolescent gonorrhea infection remain six to three hundred times higher in the US than in less theistic developed democracies
  • the US also suffers from uniquely high adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates
  • increasing adolescent abortion rates show positive correlation with increasing belief and worship of a creator; again rates are uniquely high in the US
  • early adolescent pregnancy and birth rates are several times higher in the US
  • age of first intercourse, number of sexual partners and similar issues among teens do not exhibit wide disparity or a consistent pattern among the prosperous democracies sampled

interesting. this is just a first glance impression; i'll have to to reread it a lot more carefully.
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
state board votes 6:4 in favour of "casting doubt on the theory of evolution".

the 6 votes for? all republicans. the 4 votes against, 2 republicans, 2 democrats.

if i lived in kansas and had children, i'd move (if i hadn't already moved 6 years ago when they last pulled this sort of bone-deep stupidity).

But the board's vote is likely to heap fresh national criticism on Kansas and cause many scientists to see the state as backward

you bet. finally there is hope for flat-earthers and astrologers! in kansas, they might be able to get their "theory" into science classrooms. after all, we don't want children to be indoctrinated; they should be taught every harebrained "theory" in science class, so they can make up their own minds.
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
the latest CBS poll on evolution is a doozy (thanks to [livejournal.com profile] zemblan for the pointer).

the entire thing copied from their pdf; not very long )

some people keep saying that showing such people disrespect is not the way to communicate effectively with them, and i agree that it isn't, but ya know -- i am stumped. i have no respect for willful ignorance, and that is what this is. i can sympathise with the motivation (which i think is mostly fear), but more and more americans seem willing to slide into this morass of disregarding reality in favour of faith. and what's more, they're eager to push it on those of us who don't believe as they do. if they didn't try that, i could just ignore it, but it shows democracy at its worst: the tyranny of an uneducated, fearful majority.

more (unhappy-making) polls on science.
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
yesterday i read about a pharmacist at a missouri target refusing to fill a prescription for emergency contraception. contrary to [livejournal.com profile] king_tirian, my boycott of target until they stop weaseling, and state a corporate policy of resisting faith-based customer service wouldn't do much good; there is no target around here, and i am not currently visiting the US.

while looking into this case, i've also learned that the USA's largest pharmacy chain, CVS, has instituted a policy allowing its pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions on the basis of "deeply held personal beliefs" (which i just bet is code for "fundamentalist christian beliefs").

this is wrong. here's a suggestion for people whose deeply held personal beliefs seem to extend to pushing them on other people when they're in need of medication: get another job. surely the pro-life movement would love to have you work for them in some capacity. and to those companies who give such people the time of day because you don't want to alienate the fundies: just you wait until those of us who usually live and let live start to exert similar pressures.

it's ridiculous. would it be reasonable for a vegetarian to work at burger king and refuse to serve any customer who orders a whopper, or another meat-containing dish? the person would get fired faster than you could say "2 weeks notice". maybe a muslim worker at the 7-11 should have the right to refuse to sell you any fast food during daytime hours of ramadan? how about the orthodox jewish salesperson at sears who won't sell you anything on saturdays. would you like that? why should we make special exceptions for fundamentalist christians? why should their deeply held beliefs count for more?

a modern democracy should not just stand for freedom of religion, it should also stand for freedom from religion.
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
1. to the orangemen who've been rioting in ulster. were you dispossessed, homeless, or starving? were you marched into refugee camps, denied freedom of speech, freedom of worship, and oppressed by the world? naw. you just went nuts because your march got rerouted around a catholic area, so you couldn't rub their faces in your presence the way you like.

i think your atavistic order should be dismantled. there is no room for you damn bigots in this modern world. i am tired of phony christians like you. grow up, or kill yourselves -- i'm sure your god can't wait to do some judging. enough of the killing of other people already.

2. to those moslems who want to push ontario (and other parts of canada) into allowing us to let them use sharia as legally binding law on other moslems, especially woman, of course. guess what? NO. sharia is not compatible with canada. tt is not appropriate for the state to validate, encourage, or finance faith-based law. this is a country with equal justice for all, in which the rights of the individual are supreme. go and live in a moslem country if you can't stand that. the equivalent goes for jews and christians, and anyone else who thinks their religion should get special decision powers. NO. i am all for scrapping the arbitration act -- i like the separation of church and state, and if anything, i want to see more of it.
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
why do fundamentalists feel threatened by liberal family values? unitarian universalist doug muder talks about the reasons, and why we shouldn't just dismiss them. extremely interesting, containing ideas i've not previously come across.

via [livejournal.com profile] saluqi.

*urk*

Aug. 18th, 2005 15:53
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
having a GI bug of sorts. nothing terribly bad, just that it seems advisable not to remove myself from the vicinity of the porcelain god's shrine.

am logging a couple of things here that i commented on elsewhere, and want to loosely keep track of.
pope asks bush for diplomatic immunity )
cross-border travel )


books in progress:

dorothy dunnett spring of the ram -- 2nd in her "house of niccolò" series. extremely complex historical fiction. reread. *love*.

mandy aftel, essence and alchemy: a natural history of perfume -- i am reading a page here and there; it doesn't really suck me in.

rita gilbert, living with art -- art appreciation. this is just excellent so far; the text is clear and uncluttered, and most of the accompanying art is actually right there on the same page so one doesn't need to page back and forth constantly. amusing bit: there's a picture of jan van eyck's Arnolfini Marriage, and i came across that on the same day i encountered giovanni arnolfini in dorothy dunnett's niccolò rising.

finished:

ralph mcinerny, the book of kills -- this is an academic mystery, which is a sub-genre i usually like, but this instance of it mostly bored me, and it seemed contrived to boot.

mary stewart, thunder on the right -- uninspired gothic, with too much of its plot having the "heroine" rely on male help in the form of -- *gasp*, who would have guessed -- the man she loves without actually realising it. the best part, as so often with stewart's gothics, is her sense of place; in this case the novel takes place in a remote area of the pyrenées, and i could really feel myself there (and i don't think that's so because i've actually been there; i've had similar feelings about others of her books that take place in locations í've not been to).

dorothy dunnett niccolò rising -- i can't do a review of this right now; it rocks too hard. :)
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
this post by [livejournal.com profile] slit is IMO the best analysis that i've yet read on the bombings in egypt, and that includes my regular news sources. and the comments are nothing to sneeze at either. very intelligent thread.

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