Friday, April 27, 2007

Homosexuality & The Bible: The Truth, Part 5:
Paul's Letter to the Romans

To read earlier parts of this series, please click on the following links:

Homosexuality & The Bible: The Truth, Part 1:
Sodom & Gomorrah

Homosexuality & The Bible: The Truth, Part 2:
Levitical Law

Homosexuality & The Bible: The Truth, Part 3:
David & Jonathan

Homosexuality & The Bible: The Truth, Part 4:
The Words of Christ

Homosexuality & The Bible: The Truth, Part 5:
Paul's Letter to the Romans

So Paul... Paul, Paul, Paul... Probably the only man more worshipped by the "dead in Christ" than the son of the Big Cheese himself. He was quite a verbose person with an opinion on everything, least of all the issues in the young church back in the day. He appeared quite suddenly in the church's good graces after being one of the biggest Christ-bashers of his day after a "conversion" in which he fell off his ass, hit his head, and heard sky god speaking to him (Acts 9:1-9; remember that if someone claimed this had happened today, they'd be on Zoloft and in a rubber-suit so fast even sky god would be blind-sided...).

Yes, Paul "Concussions Saul" is quite a favorite among the fundies of today's day and age, mostly because he said all the things back then that most white males of fundism wish they could say today (the least of which telling women to be silent...)

But our little expose revolves around a singular passage that fundies oft-quote as "irrefutable evidence" that sky god doesn't like homosexuals (or wait: lest we forget, it's the act of homosexuality, right?). It reads as follows:

Romans 1:17 through 2:11: For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed [it] unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God.
First, there's the obvious conundrum--why are their gays who believe in god? Who worship god? If we follow the translation as read by fundamentalists and right-wingers which they claim to be literal (which in actuality is a metaphorical translation in English of the literal Greek which has been mistranslated into English, explained below), rejecting god leads you to being gay, which in turn leads to a whole host of other "sins." But there are plenty of homosexual persons who pray to the same god they do, believe in the same Jesus they do, go to the same churches and hold to the same doctrines they do. It creates a fallacy which can mean only two things:
  1. Fundamentalists are wrong in their interpretation of the passage, or
  2. Scripture is wrong
both of which lead to the conclusion that homosexuality in general is not a sin and does not lead one away from their god. Paul states quite clearly that only homosexuality in regards to the worship of a graven image leads one away from god and is not a result of having turned away from god.

Now keep in mind two things:
  1. Most fundies stop with chapter 1's verses, content that they have made their point, and
  2. ignore where Paul rebukes them for judging people in chapter two.
It's all a matter of hermeneutics (Bible interpretation) and an understanding of the Greek language in which Paul was writing. Being the "literal interpreters" of the Bible that fundamentalists are, they fail not only to take into account the translational issues from a very specific language to the more malleable English language, but cultural influences, contextual grammar, and linguistic subtleties.

Being that this passage if the main tour de force of the right-wing Christian argument against homosexuality, this only reinforces the need for a complete all-encompassing interpretation in regards to what Paul was actually trying to communicate to the Roman church, especially in light of the "Paul said, I believe it, that settles it" mentality that runs rampant in the United States religious arena.

One of the principal fundamentals of hermeneutics is this: Do not ground a theological belief on only one passage. And being that fundies themselves preach that people no longer live under the "law" of the old testament (despite their love for quoting levitical passages, most of the others of which they break) takes anything in the old testament out of the running for a total hermeneutically correct theological approach to the issue. And since even this passage isn't even regards to such (as shall be explained), and other new testament passages are "iffy" at best, to say that this is THE answer, and THE reason the church opposes homosexual behavior is ludicrous. One wouldn't say "snakes talk only to women in temptation" is a biblical truth based solely on the Genesis account, would they? Fundies won't even go so strong as to proclaim that women keep silent in church under all circumstances, even though Paul himself said as much quite clearly in a separate letter--and why? For those passages, they take into account cultural standing (despite the fact that women were quite active and vocal in the early church) and (in regards to the talking serpent) perhaps a bit of the allegorical phenomenon that early Jewish writers were fond of (although, I'm frightened to say, we may yet get a fundie or two on this site who will state unequivocally for the record that they do believe that Eve was real and had a conversation with a snake...). But, as stated, one passage (incorrectly interpreted) does not a theological stance make.

The second issue in regards to this passage comes in contextually in regards to Greek grammar: I'll try to break this down as simply as possible, but no guarantees, okay?

The overarching pattern in this chapter is the repeated use of two key phrases: "they exchanged" (kai/allasso; verses 23, 25, and 26) and "God gave them over" (paradidomi; verses 24, 26, and 28), which encompasses three parallel trains of thought in verses 23 through 28. The use of parallels was common practice in both the Jewish and Greek writings, which involved the repetition of key phrases and thoughts in an attempt to get across the importance that lies within them. Paul, a product of these cultures, used this "parallelism" quite a bit in his letters, and in this case, he is trying to emphasize the tremendous weight that the sin of idolatry has in Paul's interpretation in the mind of god (two of the top ten in the almighty "ten commandments"...)

This parallelism can be seen as such:

And changed (allasso) the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up (paradidomi) to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed (kai/allasso) the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

For this cause God gave them up (paradidomi) unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving (kai/allasso) the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over (paradidomi) to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Paul actually begins to set this up in verses 18 through 20, in which he speaks about how the Greeks do know god through his creation alone, so that therefore they are "without excuse" in not knowing about god (yeah, it's that simplistic "It's all about me" approach god is fond of...). But since the Greeks have decided to ignore him (and here, Paul is referring to all non-Jewish persons, not just the Greek folk...) and tried to, in Paul's view of things, to understand the world "apart from god," god let them go and revert to "unnatural states" (an oxymoron). The basic premise being this: The sequence of events that happen if you don't worship god simply for who he is, you end up being a very bad person, whose major character flaws will consist of anything as listed near the end of chapter one. And even though Paul had yet to make this list of "character flaws" public (as the printing press hadn't been invented yet), apparently they were supposed to somehow "know" these laws and abide by them (having "known" god by his creation alone), and know that in their engagement and approval of these behaviors, they would die...

Paul apparently thought the Greeks were mind-readers.

The passages of both verses 23-24 and 25-26 are inextricably bound by the Greek words kai/allasso and paradidomi, which very clearly describe idol worship in Greek religions, specifically graven images. But the main message Paul is trying to get across is about Gentiles who stopped worshipping god, and who "exchanged" (kai/allasso) the worship of God for the worship of idols. Of course, though one could surmise that anything that takes up time that could be "better spent" in a house of worship is indeed an "idol" in the lives of people (work, television, kickball practice...), Paul's language is clearly in regards to graven images ("changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things"...), "other gods" that were prevalent in the Greek culture.

(Yeah, I've looked over this many times now and can't think of a way to make it any clearer...)

You will, however, note a change from the first two uses of the Greek words to the third usage: when Paul switches the parallelism from clear idolatry to a more sexually-natured type of idolatry (so it seems). The difficulty in how these relate comes from a more cultural standpoint and less of a universal understanding of what idolatry is; in essence, Paul was making a very direct connection from the overall idolatry across all cultures to specifically the idolatrous practices of the Greek religions to drive home his point to the Romans about idolatry. If you allow metaphorical derivatives from verses 23 to 25 (in that idolatry can be anything that keeps you from worship of god), then one would easily surmise that homosexuality is indeed the ultimate in idolatry, the ultimate in turning your back on god, and therefore concrete proof of the "sin" nature of homosexuality (of course, then, denying the very "literalness" with which fundies claim to hold the bible to...) This is a complete reversal from the intent which Paul established earlier when speaking in concrete terms of graven image idolatry as stated in "changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things." This is a very specific type of idolatry to which Paul refers, and to allow the metaphorical interpretation to insert itself at this point does a grave disservice to Paul's intent. But when placed within the context, we find that the continuity is preserved when these specific homosexual acts are viewed culturally as the temple worship practice of the Greek culture that it was. Homosexual prostitution was a religious action in certain "graven images," most notably the Cybelean cult, the most prominent cult in Rome at the time (not counting, of course, the rise in popularity of the Christian cult). It had been around for hundreds of years by this time, and the priests and priestesses (the galli) were constantly trying to achieve gender neutrality in order to be more like their goddess:

Cybele's religion was a bloody cult that required its priests and priestesses as well as followers to cut themselves during some rituals. The priests castrated themselves at their initiation; there was wild music, chanting, and frenzied dancing. During the Republic and early Empire, festival days were celebrated with eunuchs preceding the goddess through the streets, banging cymbals and drums, wearing bright attire and heavy jewelry, their hair long and 'greased'. (Source.)
The early Christians were determined to destroy the cult and St Augustine condemns Her as a "demon" and a "monster" and the Gallae were "madmen" and "castrated perverts" (hardly an unbiased opinion). In the 4th century CE Valentinian II officially banned the worship of Cybele, and many of her followers perished at the hands of zealous Christians.

Justinian continued the persecution of the cult and the Gallae. Under his reign, transgendered persons, and those indulging in same sex eroticism had their property confiscated, sacred texts burned, temples raised; they were tortured, forced to commit suicide, or burned alive.

By the start of the 6th century CE, the Cult and the ancient Gallae were extinct. Elements of the cult were transferred into Christianity in a manner similar to that of Isis. There is a much of Cybele and Isis in the Virgin Mary. Source.)
Paul himself would have been very aware of this religion, as stated earlier, it had been around for centuries, having spread from parts of Asia to become a mainstream part of the vast Roman empire. And, as he was speaking specifically to a church which was in the heart of an empire which had a great many followers of these "graven images" of Cybele, he would have been very aware of what practices were part of this idol worship. And, as established, he was speaking very specifically about graven image worship (of which homosexual worship acts were a very large part of), not homosexuality (the act of which is not a graven image by definition).

Now a point could be made in light of the fact that Paul goes on to list a whole host of sins, and that this last reference (in the parallelism) to homosexuality is just the beginning of this list, and therefore is just further proof for them that homosexuality in the most general of terms (as opposed to the specific conditions which Paul set forth) is indeed a sin, and therefore condemned as such (and again, taking into account how basically wrong this is on the premise of biblical interpretation alone), it must be again pointed out that linguistically, this is not a case of "homosexuality is a sin is a sin is a sin." Looking at a certain phrase embedded in the text, it separates the three points made above to the list of sins that follows, that phrase being kai kathos. It is located in verse 28, and quite simply, it makes the bridge from saying "Because of this above," to "this is what happens now." In other words, because of this idol practice (which happens to involve this homosexual idol practice), this (list of sins) is what can/will happen to those whom god has left go. Not "homosexuality is chief among them and here's a few more just for good measure." It is quite clear from this hard look at the original Greek that Paul is simply referencing idol worship and not the act of homosexuality as a separate entity unto itself.

So, rewritten a little more clearly, Paul states three times that idolatry separates you from god, even though he's all around you and you have no excuse. Therefore, because of your idolatry, here's what happens when god gives up on you. Note that the homosexuality is part of the idolatry, not a part of what will happen after god leaves you to your idolatry (a very important distinction given how it is commonly referred to in fundie circles as an effect of having given up god and not a cause of worshipping someone other than god). To restate, it was not the homosexuality which caused god to "give them over," but their rejecting a belief in god which caused him to give them over. The homosexual activity was a part of the process of them rejecting belief in god, just as making and worshipping idols was a part of the process in verses 23 to 26.

Which brings us to the list of sins. And only one word in the list is used to again try to bolster the claim that "homosexuality" is a sin, that word being porneia, typically translated as "fornication" in KJV bibles; as more and more fundies have rewritten and retranslated the bible, it has been written as "homosexuality," which does a disservice to the overarching meaning of this word in Greek, which is to say this: it means any type of sexual act deemed "unclean" in the eyes of the old testament law, not just one specific sexual orientation-type of sexual abnormalcy. In fact, in Strong's concordance, this is the list of definitions for porneia: 1. illicit sexual intercourse (a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc. (b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18 (c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mk. 10:11,12 2. metaph. the worship of idols (a) of the defilement of idolatry, as incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols Note that it includes sex with a divorcee (how many right-wing Christians just became "depraved" persons who don't worship god? After all, this is a list of things that happen to people who engage in idol worship, not a list of things homosexuals do...).

Lastly, however, there is the beginning of chapter 2. Please remember that Paul himself did not separate his words and letters into tidy chapters and verses. He wrote a letter the same way you or I do--as sentences and paragraphs. It was the church, in an effort to make translating easier (wouldn't an "inerrant" word have come with these in place?) and making locating certain passages easier (mostly for ripping them out of context and misusing them) added them in, breaking them up "logically." Note that after Paul states the list of "sins" and "character flaws" of persons who don't believe in god, he says to the Roman church:

Rom 2:1-4: Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
"Who are you to judge those people? You are guilty of the same things!" cries Paul (meaning the list of sins of those who have turned away from god). "You will be judged by the same god who will judge them for what they do!" he reiterates.

This passage is the most damning of all to those who cite this passage as a judgment against homosexuality, no matter how wrong or right they may be in their interpretation of such. To read the same passage in the NIV:

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?
I'm reminded of when Jesus rebuked the Pharisees:

Mat 23:15: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
Fundies mostly miss this, though. In fact, a lot of persons engage in judging something as "wrong" or "bad" through a non-understanding of the reality all the time! If you will recall, there were days in our history when mental retardation, red-heads, left-handed individuals--all of them were branded evil, of the devil, or demon-possessed. Colored people were seen as property, women were inferior, and anyone else was a pagan who should be put to death, if not converted first and then put to death.

One wonders how homosexuality will be viewed by the church after a few more hundred years have passed...
Being as it took forever for me to get around to finishing up this part, it may be another fair bit of time before I get around to Part 6. But I'm sure this as well as other topics of conversation will have you guys with plenty of reading for months.

Google Me This, Google Me That...

I was laughing my ass off.

Someone found my blog by doing a Google search for "i have no desire to fuck jessica hahn but i would like to kill jim baker"...

There's a story in there somewhere, I'm sure.

Perhaps Tammy Faye was having a lesbian moment?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Other Side of the Family...

Kip: Hey, Jason? Jason?
Me: Yeah? Hey, Kip, what's up?
Kip: Man, you Hughes' are hard to get a hold of! Do any of you answer the phone?
Me: Umm... I just did...
Kip: [Laughter] Yeah, I guess so. Hey, I need you to see something.
Me: Over the phone?
Kip: Yeah, yeah, you guys. No, I mean, ever hear of Vonage? VOIP?
Me: Er...
Kip: Well, listen, I'm in this new business...
You have to know my uncle. Picture Leo from That Seventies Show, add a dash of Howard Stern (without the "K.") and a pinch of Aerosmith, and you've pretty much got him down. He's one of those people that always has a "Get Rich Quick" scheme, or, at least, has been suckered into many "Get Rich Quick" schemes...

Kip: ...wait till you hear about it! It's the wave of the future!
Me: What is?
Kip: It's called ANC. You can look it up, man, this shit is the future! Think about cell phones! Everyone has 'em now! You have to see this!
Me: Well... [Sigh. LOST comes on soon...] Why can't you tell me about it now?
Kip: Danny... you know Danny, right? Megan's Danny?
Me: [Who the fuck doesn't know Danny? He's only been around since I was like, nine!] Yeah?
Kip: Well, he'll be here too, and...
Me: Be where?
Kip: Oh, be at my house on Monday night. At seven! You'll hear all about it...
Me: About what?
Kip: About ANC. It's this great company that... You know these guys are sitting on a beach drinking martini's and...
Me: Who is?
Kip: Whoever invented cell phones, man! And freakin', um, you know, the Internet. I love technology, you've no idea!
Me: Kip, what the hell are you talking about?
Kip: And it's a family thing, but you know my mom and my brother and Penny, well, they're all kind of stubborn...
Me: [Yeah, like you missed that boat...]
Kip: ...well, maybe not Penny so much, but, Scott and Mom, you know, you gotta have an open mind, you know?
Me: [I give up asking questions and grunt non-committally]
Kip: And if you keep an open mind, you know? This is, well, it's great! I love it, and if I love it it has to be great, right?
Me: [Another grunt]
Kip: [Laughter] And it's like satellite radio, man, I can't live without it now! But this opportunity can't be missed, it's freakin' gonna be the future!
Me: Yeah, you said. What is it again?
Kip: Well, you have to see. Hey, call your... Hey, is um.. What's his name?
Me: [For the ten-thousandth time] Rich?
Kip: Yeah, why can't I ever remember that?
Me: [Acid, crack, and heroin, perhaps?] Er...
Kip: Well, bring Rich, and get Tom, and Sylvia, and... What's Mike doing?
Me: I have no idea...
Kip: Well, what about Cindy?
Me: Kip, I have no freakin' clue what anyone's doing. [Will you please get to the fucking point?]
Kip: Well, with this, you'll always know 'cause calling is so cheap--well, you'll see on Monday, right? Right.
Me: Kip. you still haven't--
Kip: And it's great 'cause it's run by Christians, and--
Me: [This is a selling point? Are you kidding me?] So?
Kip: Well, you know they're good people, you know? And...
See? Religion runs rampantly through this family. It's a drug, an opiate. It does more damage than a drunk elephant on a carnival cruise... Anyone in this family could start a conversation about... Oh, septic tanks. Or the mating habits of a ladybug. God will come up nine times out of ten.

Kip: ... save tons of money on calls and everything!
Me: I don't call anyone.
Kip: Yeah, how come you never call, man?
Me: Why would I?
Kip: To say hi?
Me: I just did when you called me.
Kip: [Laughter] Yeah, yeah, I guess you did. You guys, I tell ya...
Me: Listen, Kip, I gotta go.
Kip: Yeah, well, be here Monday, and get Tom and Sylvia to come, and see if you can get a hold of Mike, and bring... Bring... What's his name?
Me: Rich.
Kip: Yeah, him, bring him. It's the wave of the future! You're gonna love it!
Me: I'm sure.
So I do my homework. I hop online and look up this "ANC." It's a telephone service that uses your "broadband DSL/Cable modem" to connect you with the world for pennies on the dollar. This poses quite a few problems for me:
  1. I don't have a DSL or Cable modem
  2. I don't want to be "connected to the world"; it's filled with dumbasses
  3. I don't call anyone
So, after taking a few deep breaths, I call Kip back (Irony, eh?)

Kip: Hey, Jason? Jason?
Me: Hey Kip, listen, I was looking at this on the web...
Kip: Doesn't it sound awesome? Wait til the presentation on Monday, man!
Me: It's a "presentation"?
Kip: Well, yeah, man, it's like--
Me: Listen, Kip, it says I need a DSL or Cable modem, and I don't have one.
Kip: Don't worry about that! I'll explain it!
Me: [There goes my easy out...] Well, Kip, I mean--
Kip: Don't worry about it! I'll tell you all about it on Monday, you're going to love it!
Me: Fine, I'll call you Sunday to confirm, okay? [Anyone have a deadly disease I could borrow for Monday night?]
Kip: See you then. And hey, bring--
Me: I know, I know, I'll talk to them--
Kip: --Tom, and Sylvia, and get Mike, and... and...
Me: Goddamn it, Kip, how hard is it? RICH. His name is fucking RICH.
Kip: [Laughter] Yeah, yeah, bring him if you can, okay?
Me: Fine. Bye.
Kip: See ya Jason.
And people wonder why we only get together for holidays, funerals, and weddings... And maybe not always even then!

Don't get me wrong--I love Kip to death. He was a fun uncle to have growing up! But there comes a point when you don't need to hear about yet another "get-rich-quick" scheme that he's gotten into. There's only so many times he can claim the family "doesn't support him" for not falling into these schemes with him. It's exhausting dealing with such emotionally needy people, and when you're related to them, it's a hundred times worse, trust me.

So Sylvia, Tom, Mom, and other genetically-related blog readers--you've all been told. Kip's house, Monday night at seven. We'll all suffer together, okay?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

At Least We Wouldn't Need the Money...

Rich: "What's this?"
Me: "What's what?"
Rich: "This charge for $3.78 at Redner's?"
Me: "How the fuck should I know?"
Rich: "Well... what did you get at Redner's quick shop?"
Me: "Seeing as how I haven't stepped foot in a Redner's in months, that would be your charge. I would guess a candy bar and a drink, if I'm not mistaken."
Rich: "Oh..."
Yes, it's that time. Once a month, Rich gets it in his head that I must be dining in exclusive restaurants, drinking in pretentious bars, and buying only the top-top in housewares and groceries for our home, which results in our being "poor." Never mind that we aren't "poor," at least, not in the sense that we need the Christians Children’s Fund to start a commercial for us begging for 80 cents of every dollar, but we certainly don't have money to blow our noses with and burn in the fireplace. We make do. We squeak by.

Rich: "Well, what's this?"
Please note that Rich is in the dining room on the computer staring at our monthly statement. I am ten feet away, facing the opposite direction, staring at the television as if it holds the secrets to a successful life and riches beyond my wildest imaginings.

Me: "What's what?"
Rich: "Never mind."
Silence. I un-mute the television just in time to hear Ross yell, "We were on a break!" I like Friends in reruns, though I could never get into it when it was a regular part of many Americans nighttime television habits.

Rich: "We have got to stop spending money."
Me: "Would you rather I stop paying my car insurance? Or stop putting gas in the car? It's going to be hard to earn a paycheck without the gas in the car, though. Oo! We could stop eating? How about life insurance? We all know it's a scam anyways..."
Rich: "You know what I mean."
I don't, but I let it pass. I spend tons less now than I did in my younger years. I no longer have pizza three nights a week. I don't go out to the clubs every night. We barely eat out at all (i.e., only when we have a gift card) and never see a movie in the theater (see same clause as eating out). And I don't even truly miss these things! I like spending time at home, relaxing, not having to get dolled-up and paraded in the meat market. I like being my own chef and having a refill whenever I damn well please and not when the waiter decides to finally come back and check on us after two hours have passed!

But I dive in to my once-per-month speech.

Me: "We're almost caught up. My cars paid off now. We both just got raises. Getting oil this month hurt us, but we now won't have to get oil to October at the earliest again. We caught up on everything now but ______, and even that we're only barely behind, and next month, like I've been saying for months, we'll be caught up."
Rich: "We should sell this house."
Me: "And live where?"
Rich: "We'll get an apartment."
Me: "You know that's a silly idea."
Rich: "Well, what do you suggest?"
Me: "Get off the computer, stop worrying about the Monthly Statement, and listen to me. We'll be caught up next month. We will then have positive income. We will be able to save based on the budget I showed you in November. We won't lose the house, the cars, or our dignity and respect."
Rich: "Easy for you to say..."
Me: "It's only easy for me because I'm the one being accused of spending too much at places I don't go to."
Rich: "How much do you spend on--"
Me: "I'm done here."
I briefly tried pointing out the plus side--having poor credit means no one wants to steal your identity and ruin your life! I'm always hearing on the news about these poor saps who hand out SSNs, credit card numbers, and other info and end up getting screwed out of thousands of dollars (I'm also wondering where all these people are getting their thousands originally, but I digress...).

Me: "That won't be us on the 6 o'clock news."
Rich: "No, we'll be the homeless bums in the alley behind the cameraman begging for food."
Me: "What? Instead of making money by prostituting ourselves? Get some self-esteem, man!"
Rich: "So then we'll just die of some horrible venereal disease."
Me: "At least you won't need money anymore."
He agreed.

I love my pessimist...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Rednecks on Parade...

Clang! Clang! Bang! Bang! Crunch, bang-bang-bang-crunch!

People lined the streets, wondering where the racket could be coming from.

"Is it a bird," asked one little boy. His father could only shake his head in wonder.

Clang! Crunch, bang-bang-bang-crunch! Clang! Bang! Bang!

"Could it be a plane?" a woman shouted, struggling to be heard above the growing racket.

A few people glanced, but quickly refocused their gaze at the road, waiting to see what monstrous creation would round the bend of their normally quiet Pocono retreat.


The deafening noise forced the little boy to place his hands over his ears. His worried expression tried to catch his father's gaze, but the adult was too curious...

We rounded the corner...

People stared, Children screamed. Dogs ran alongside as if the hunchback of Notre Dame were throwing dog treats from the back! Torches were lit and pitchforks lifted! Someone screamed, and a mass panic of people rushed forward madly! Dad tried to speed up, but...
Actually, it was Sunday morning, and I had just arrived at the 'rent's home to help dad with the screened-in porch (that, yes, we are still working on...). I chain up Hawthorne around a tree and walk up to the front porch (nearly finished, unpainted) and greet Mom and Dad.

Then the phone rings. It's Mike. His car has broke down halfway up the mountain--the windy portion of the road.

Dad and myself pile into his pick-up and make our way to where his Mustang idles, flashers brightly winking in the morning sun. Then some car-speak takes place: drive-shaft, transmission seal, universal joints (sky god's knees go into a Mustang? Who knew?) I go down the bend to play traffic cop, telling people in the most rudimentary of sign-language skills (Hint: I was waving my arms and pointing to the other side of the road) to move over so that they don't run over Mike's and Dad's legs as they sprawl on gravel and asphalt to peer at the underbelly of the beast. It almost looks as if someone, in Dorothy-esque style, has dropped a Mustang from the sky to kill the wicked father-son team of the Pocono's... (but to clarify, they aren't evil! :D; which leads one to wonder how misunderstood the wicked witch of the west must have been? I hear there's a book out called "Wicked" that covers this angle...)

I watch people as they round the bend and see me waving my arms. Some move over and slow down, craning their necks out to see if perhaps, with an X-ray vision they don't possess, they could discern the happenings under the broken-down car. Some give me a dirty look for interrupting what I suppose they thought was thus far an uneventful Sunday morning drive. At one point, one car was in the process of passing another and they both had to slam on the brakes. I made eye-contact with both drivers, conveying disappointment and contempt to the now-snail-paced drivers for such reckless abandon on such a windy section of road.

But between the interruptions, the mountain "highway" was actually quite serene. A small creek babbled about 30 feet below and a slight breeze waved the birches and oaks about in a silent orchestra. It was a good day for man to be silent and soak in the bird songs, the squirrel chatter, the new buds...

"Jay! Let's go!" I walk back up to the pick-up, which Dad has run a chain from to the underneath of Mike's car.

We start off going 2 mph. Things seem fine (as fine as things can be towing a Mustang by chain as various pieces clang against the asphalt underneath). Mike is in the car, trying to keep the 12 inches of delicate space between the two vehicles from disappearing as he keep his eyes firmly glued to Dad's tail lights. Traveling more than two miles at 2 to 5 mph is a very, very slow way to start a Sunday, so my eyes wandered over the discards of the many hundreds of thousands of drivers who have passed this way. A blue kickball. A beer can if there were two hundred of them. Some shiny purple panties. A boot (just one) and some tires that I'm sure had seen better days serving man on his endless treks to and fro across the earth. The babbling stream no longer sounds as happily bubbly when one surveys what man has left for the stream to content with. I think of the muffler and beer cans sitting under my Japanese cherry tree at home, wondering when I'll find the time to rid man's dirtier influences from my own domain.

My domain. Native Americans didn't believe in man owning the land, which is why they thought they were making a good deal in trading acres of land for beads and rugs. After all, how could white man "own the land"? Talk about miscommunication! But I own almost an acre, and while it doesn't look like much to most (mostly as I don't make the kind of money I wish I could to transform it into the paradise I know it could be...), it is mine. I pay the taxes, mow the lawn, weed the flower beds... It is my home.

But seeing how we discard our waste onto what we consider "someone else's," I wonder what possesses a person to, say, throw a pair of purple panties carelessly out of a car window. Why did one boot land on the edge of Rt 115? Did someone just leave Wal-Mart, realize they were physically disabled only after leaving the store, and throw out the one they didn't need? (It's only a silly thought if you think of how silly it is to throw something out of a moving window to begin with...) Why do we litter, and leave things lying around?

You can ask anyone who knows me--my car is a roving garbage can. I don't carelessly toss various objects into the wind--what's the purpose? How many trash cans do you people drive by in a day? How about when you get home? Are you telling me you don't own a garbage can to leave your litter in?

Regardless, I realize I'm not going to change the world. People will just keep spewing garbage from their vehicles so that it can turn into someone else's problem... I just wish I understood the mindset... And I wish I didn't have to keep picking it up out of my yard, let alone an unnoticed mountain stream more than 30 feet from anyone's line of sight...

But enough of my digression, I suppose. It still managed to be an overall productive day. Mike worked on his car (with limited success) while Dad and I (Okay, mostly Dad...) hoisted and nailed rafters so that Mom could enjoy her soon-to-be screened-in porch. It's finally starting to look like we're getting somewhere on this project that seems never-ending, and that makes me glad. (No offense, Mom and Dad... :D)
One interesting tidbit of discussion was had when, and I'm not sure how it exactly came up, but I asked Dad in effect, "So what were you taught in school? Creationism?"

Dad replied, "Well, we were taught mostly Creationism, as back then evolution was still a theory. Somewhere along the way someone decided it was a 'fact.' "

I replied, "Scientific theories are based on facts."

He shook his head in bewilderment at his heathen son. We dropped the subject. Sigh. Fundamentalists. You gotta love 'em. :D

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

As If the Shootings Weren't Bad Enough...

As if the families of both the shooter and his victims haven't suffered enough, every one's favorite hate-group leader has decided that his "congregation" (Read: fan-club of idiocy) will picket the funerals of those who were killed at the Virginia Tech school. His reasoning?

Why did this happen, you ask? It’s simple. On April 16, 2007, this nation, through the offices of your military and conspirators therewith took a shot at the servants of God — your marksman was limp and lame and he had terror all around, so he did a lousy job. But what you get for your trouble is that your God shot at you! The LORD your God sent a crazed madman to shoot at your children, and he didn't miss. Get this straight — God sent this South Korean madman to kill 31 of your children at Virginia Tech. Was God asleep while this took place? Was He on vacation? Of course not. He willed this to happen to punish you for assailing His servants.
Notice how suddenly his god is ours? Funny how we don't even subscribe to his more-illogical-than-most-fundies sky god (and also note the fact that he never says it's his god either--maybe some sort of subconscious "I know I'm a moron" truth coming through?) Of course, it's our military (as if he doesn't live in this country) and our offices (and what does his congregation do for day jobs?) that "took a shot at god." One wonders how one hunts and shoots fairy tales? Throw a bible in the air, grab your Winchester, and hope for the best? No, you're right--a hand gun would give better odds. Unless we get a clay-pigeon cannon? Hmm, so many weapons of mass fairy-tale destruction, so little time for hunting. Of course, this seems to negate logic and reason, which are the best defense against smiting sky gods, horny Hebrew teens, talking snakes & donkeys, and a risen dead guy or two, but I digress.

Of course, we realize that the Westboro Baptist Church has every right to say what they wish--this wouldn't be the United States if they couldn't! And they do have a way of making even the most "biblical" of issues seem like small potatoes to his super-sized ignorance. One wonders how people who most likely live normal,every-day 9 to 5 lives become such hate-mongers when wearing a sandwich board?

Of course, one must remember that, even though most fundies abhor the tactics of Westboro, they all agree with their message (though they place it in a more "politically correct" phraseology): God Hates Fags. Most fundies will let us off the hook with a "Hate the sin, love the sinner," but most people see through that Cover-girl camouflage. That's just a pretty way of saying "You're going to hell, but like Judas, I'll send you with a kiss" (followed by a fervent prayer that it does, indeed, exist...) otherwise they'll have kissed a fag for nothing...

One of Phelps' followers, daughter Shirley, who has 11 children (cause hate groups aren't gonna just have members flocking their way, so they need to promote growth from the inside) said the following at a soldiers funeral not to long ago: "You are not going to make me feel bad about it. If they're offended, that is a clear indication they hate God's word and are headed for hell." How many times have I heard that on this forum? Of course, sky god's "word" comes wrapped up in Jesus' love, Eve's dumb-ass for listening to a talking snake (Who hasn't been there, done that?), and a fervent self-despising nature to relieve yourself of all personal responsibility to blame the devil, Eve, and a son-murdering god who could give two shits.

And you think I'm the one going to hell...

I say fundies have already created it here on earth...

But we'll just blame that on the "devil" too...

And You Thought You Were an American Citizen...

I knew it was coming. I think a lot of us expected this as the wave of fundi-ism reaches its zenith before a long descent into oblivion for another generation to resurrect. The Bush Supreme Court has decided that women have no right to life, but the parasite with the potential of becoming a human does. And as conservatives jump up and down for joy (but not in any way that would provoke sexual thoughts), decrying a victory against the "culture of death" and a turn-around towards "family values," we have to wonder where they get this idea that a few cells with the potential for being a human has a greater right to life than its host.

Of course, we all know where they get this idea--their awe-inspiring pseudo-history book filled with smiting, sex, and lies (and that's only the old testament!) Never mind all that "kill all their children" (Numbers 31:16-18 is only one of several examples of sky god not caring if children live or die since apparently they aren't in the womb) and "rape all their women" (Deuteronomy 20:13-18) stuff the Hebrews did to all the people already living in the so-called "promised land" (How's that working out for you guys so far?) When it comes to today's unborn children, apparently sky god loves them so much he wouldn't want a woman to get an abortion even if her life were in danger, right? Right?

Apparently the Supreme Court agrees:

The law is constitutional despite not containing an exception that would allow the procedure if needed to preserve a woman's health, Kennedy said. "The law need not give abortion doctors unfettered choice in the course of their medical practice," he wrote in the majority opinion.

Doctors who violate the law face up to two years in federal prison. The law has never taken effect, pending the outcome of the legal fight.

Kennedy's opinion was a long-awaited resounding win that abortion opponents expected from the more conservative bench.
So what was sky god's policy back in the day on miscarriages and abortion? You know, the good ol' "smite" and "strike" days when anyone was fair game?

Exodus 21:22-25: And if men struggle and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
So, if a woman loses her baby due to influences outside of her control... Well, then, the father states how much the child was going to be worth to him, and all's well that ends well. But if the woman herself got injured, the people who caused the injury shall be put to death. Funny that, how a miscarried child is worth only what the father thinks, but if the woman gets hurt, or dies, those people must also die... So sky god could care less about the in utero.

But fundies love this passage to justify their "devil-may-care" attitude about the life conditions of any given woman who happens to get knocked up:

Psalm 139:13-16: For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for Thou art fearfully wonderful (later texts were changed to read "for I am fearfully and wonderfully made"); wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.
The obvious logic (twisted as the fundie's logic is...) is that if sky god cared this much about King David (who himself danced naked before sky god), then how much must he care about every single piss-ant person on this rock of sin he created, right? Never mind that DAVID wrote the song (and assuming sky god "inspired" him), he was the one to be KING, not some poor child on welfare who can't get a job because society failed to educate them properly for the real world (whether through lies about sex education OR a sucky public school system). Sky god must care about everyone this much because it bothers them that a KING might have been more cared about than they.

It seems that only David's womb-forming experience is worthy of sky god's interest, however, and David's enemies weren't as special. In a song (also inspired by sky god, as it's in "The Bible") in Psalms, David prays that the children of his enemies... well, to put it in today's terms, don't end up on welfare, and not in a "I-hope-they-get-good-jobs" kind of way:

Psalm 109:8-12: Let his days be few; let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. Let his children wander about and beg; and let them seek sustenance far from their ruined homes. Let the creditor seize all that he has; and let strangers plunder the product of his labor. Let there be none to extend loving kindness to him, nor any to be gracious to his fatherless children.
So much for every womb-forming person, eh? Perhaps this was the inspiration for what sky god did to Job? Or was sky god simply too lazy to write a new plot and decided to rip off what he did to Job? The world may never know...

Of course, Solomon, "special" David's son (so-called wisest of all men), also had an opinion on children who never left the womb:

Ecclesiastes 4:1-3: Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 6:3-5: If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, however many they be, but his soul is not satisfied with good things, and he does not even have a proper burial, then I say, 'Better the miscarriage than he, for it comes in futility and goes into obscurity; and its name is covered in obscurity. It never sees the sun and it never knows anything; it is better off than he.'
Seems like even the wisest man on earth thought those who have been aborted or miscarried were better off than being born! Did he need anti-depressants? Perhaps a few hundred more wives? Either way, it ultimately comes back to sky god for a fundie, so therefore even sky god admits that some kids are just better off not being born. One begins to wonder what the measuring stick is...

Job also seemed to ponder the world in ways that spoke of quality of potential life:

Job 10:18-19: Why then hast Thou brought me out of the womb? Would that I had died and no eye had seen me! I should have been as though I had not been, carried from womb to tomb.
Quality of life seems to be a very important, both the the "wisest" man in the world and the Hebrew martyr of Israel past! And if anyone had a hard-knock life, it was the fictional Job of this fable (inspired by sky god to show off his gambling addiction...).

So what are we left with? Of course, I would not be so crass as to point out that the bible actually encourages abortion or miscarriages, but the same cannot be said of the fundies that our trying to take over our country with their "moral" laws. They take those few verses to try to support some type of "pro-life" faux argument when really, when read within context, none of these verses promote or condemn abortion! And no amount of smoke will be able to change the fact that just as many abortions happened back then as happen now (percentage wise, of course).

Funny also that, in a recent study put out by the Center for Reason found that just as many Christians as non-Christian have abortions, and, in the case of Catholics, have even higher proportions of abortion than any other class of people! (Nothing like the smell of hypocrisy.) Of course, looking back at a much earlier post of mine entitled How Do You Like These Apples?, we already knew the bible belt, or "Heartland of America" (LOLOLOL!!! Okay now, stop laughing... I know, I know, misnomer of the century...) has the highest rate of divorce while still preaching to be the moral center, so why wouldn't the bible belt also have the highest number of abortions? Just goes to show that they certainly live by the "Do as I say, not as I do" rule...

Of course, if one were to follow the fundie logic, one would expect that most of them would be fighting for the rights of infants before they're even conceived! Jeremiah shares this inspiration from old sky god:

Jeremiah 1:4: Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
So sky god knew Jeremiah before he was even a twinkle in his parent's eye! So naturally fundies should be fighting for the rights of the pre-conceived, shouldn't they?

You may think it sounds silly, but I wouldn't put it past any of them...

So women, take heart, and know that sooner or later, someone who is, in fact, in control of a brain will be in charge and laws will be made protecting your right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. As the fundies would tell you,
  1. Don't have sex
  2. Don't get raped
  3. Don't have complications during pregnancy
  4. Don't have a same-sex marriage
and you should be fine! After all, you may be carrying the next King David! And if you're aren't, well, at least you have the knowledge that your fetus has more rights than you...

And you thought you were an American citizen...

Turns out you're just a fetus-maker...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

So Much to Say, So Little Energy...

But suffice to say this weekend, we will cover everyone's favorite topic of abortion (and you thought it was only for politicians to bandy about!), as well as hopefully completing the long-awaited fifth installment of our "Homosexuality and the Bible" series, in which we will be disproving the long-held myth that Paul spoke out against same-sex persons and relations.

But I'm tired right now. But I wanted to let you all know I made it back alive and well, and had a most enjoyable trip.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I'll be gone all weekend, so...

I'm leaving Friday for Maryland for the weekend, but just in case I don't get to spew something inflammatory and blasphemous to piss of the fundies, I'd like to remind you all of a great web site filled with the fun things religion is opposed to! Head on over to Russell's Teapot if you want some laughs over the weekend... Here's one just for shits and giggles:

FYI: Clicking on an image will open it up in a new window at a slightly larger size.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Someone's Watching You...

Driving home from work today, I saw that once again the Lutheran church on Mountain Road decided to try to sound catchy and witty by placing once more some little mind-numbing witticism on their billboard out front. Granted, most of them make me laugh so hard I veer a little around the S-curve (like the fact that every summer they put up "You think it's hot here?"). But today's just made me think, "Why would he bother?"

Today the sign proclaimed, with great pomposity:

"God is watching you."
I lead a pretty boring life--I like it that way. When you grow up surrounded by drama, you find solace in those quiet moments, when soft music is playing on the stereo, the dog is laying by your feet, the phone is unplugged, and your time is your own to ponder things like this. I go to work (AKA Micro-managed Hell in a Building) and sit at a computer and deal with emails that say things like "Where's that PDF? We need it now!" or "Here's 600 corrections to this awful author's latest novel--we need it by the end of the day, is that okay? Thanks." I come home, eat some dinner, watch a little television, read a book, what-have-you. Nothing very exciting or drama filled. Why would God bother?

But then a Sunday school flashback strikes, and I cower at the stop sign briefly as I shudder at this hateful time of learning about the "love" of Jesus. God, supposedly, is everywhere. (How'd you like the smell of those intestinalized taco's, big guy? Makes you wish you weren't watching in the toilet, doesn't it?)

But--wait a moment... If God is everywhere... And I'm supposed to think "it's hot here,"...

Reminds me of that line from The Birdcage, when Robin William's character says "So this is Hell... and there's a crucifix in it." Classic.

But then, I thought the whole concept behind hell was the absence of God's presence... So God couldn't be everywhere, could he? I'm sure some Jesus-hugger has come up with some clever ill-logically-thought-out scenario in which sky god is present while also allowing us to not have his presence while we slowly become human Hot Pockets for eternity, but it does seem only fair that if he's going to make us spend eternity in an Easy-Bake Oven for something we didn't even do (When was the last time a snake offered you some fruit?), he should be frying for eternity as well.

Of course, if we continue this train of thought, and sky god really is everywhere, (and we all know how the fundies like to take everything so freakin' literally) then God is also in your shit, your snot, the aroma of your fart... He's there in the cum that the rapist spews into his victim's vagina, in the knife that cuts the throat of the hostage, in the water that drowns the people in the path of the tsunami... Which means that God is also a part of things that are evil, or morally wrong in the eyes of society. And for a God in which John claims there should be no fear in the love of (1 John 4:16-21), the whole thing not only becomes very disconcerting but also hypocritical on a whole new level. So what's a Christian to do? (besides continuing to ignore every other aspect of their religion that makes no sense?)

Of course, if one reads Isaiah, God fully acknowledges that he is at the very core of evil, chaos, destruction and death (so much for "God is Love"; see Isaiah 45:7 and Lamentations 3:37-38). As, it follows that if sky god is claimed to have created everything, and everything is inclusive of evil, the whole thing is really just God's screwed-up fault. And it follows in my mind that, why would you want to worship someone or something that fucked up so badly? Even if it was not his intention (which would negate omnipotence, mind you), you now have a God that not only can't control what the hell (this part you can take literally) is going on, but the best idea he could come up with to try to make things right was to kill his kid (you know, the "one and only begotten?). Wasn't it worth it to him to kill himself? If he was so upset, distraught, and overcome with emotion at what he created, why not put his own life on the line? I mean, Holy Casper and Jesus would still be there to carry the weight of the world (if you also buy into the whole Trinity fiasco), so why kill the kid? Talk about not taking responsibility!

So where does that leave us? With an irresponsible, non-omnipotent God who, even if he is everywhere, is an active participant in the evil he created, whether of his own volition or not. Oh, and he's a murderer (but we'll just keep blaming ourselves for that, right?).

Yeah, great God you got there. But at least you have the comfort of knowing the next time your taking a shit, it's like communing with your lord and savior... Literally.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Surprise, Surprise, The Church is Tellin' Lies...

Of course, we all know they've been doing this for centuries... With the stealing of "Christmas," the usurpation of "Easter," and the whole tragic "virgin birth" gone awry, it seems a church in Ethiopia (you know, that glory-hole of knowledge and wisdom in Africa?) claims it's holy water can cure HIV/AIDS. And imagine, we've been spending money on trying to find drugs to treat and cure the disease... Who knew?

Yes, that's right, ladies and gentlemen. It seems that once we take away women's empowerment, don't teach about safe sex and birth control, and let sky god "take control" instead of educating man kind about how to build a better life for himself, sexually transmitted diseases run rampant. And the very problem the "pro-lifers" and "abstinence only" cheer-leaders created come running once more to the rescue with another "truth" from sky god to "cure man kinds problems" (never minding that the church created half the problems, and the other half they lied about so they could control your every move, thought, and breath).

From the article:

The church, more than a hundred years old and 10,000 feet above sea level, overlooks the city of Abbis Ababa and a stream that the church contends is holy.

Father Geberemedhen told Woods that the desperate supplicants who come there cannot take HIV/AIDS drugs.

"We don't allow patients to take medication if they want to receive holy water," he said.
Medicine? Bshaw!! What were we thinking? Medicine to cure and treat illnesses? Teaching women how to say no, and take measures to prevent pregnancies? Telling people how to prevent disease? Helping women take control of their lives?!? Good God, no wonder we need Jesus!!!

Here's how the Ethiopian priests give Jesus to the masses:

Plastic jerry cans are filled with water from a pool, and passed along a human chain to priests dressed like deep-sea fishermen in bright-yellow protective rain gear.

They hurl the water over the mass of people kneeling in front of them who shriek and scream, either through devotion or the simple shock of the cold water hitting their naked flesh.

Some cried out for the demons to leave their body, while priests hit them with wooden crosses. Many of them clutched their babies while the water was is shaken from the plastic containers.
Ah, yes, the masses screaming as the demons are driven out--but, ironically, the AIDS virus is left behind... Guess that God isn't as all-powerful as they'd like to think, eh? (but we knew that...)

Makes you wonder how the priest came up with the idea anyway, doesn't it? Watching too much 700 Club with his bunny ears? Or listening to Robertson saying how Jesus should kill Venezuelans... Maybe it was a vision that came to the priest that the dirty ditch with water could be made "pure" and cure disease? A white dove landing on his shoulder and shitting? A ray of sunlight streaming through some stained glass? Oh, I know! Prayer and meditation! I imagine their conversation went something like this:

GOD: Father Geber... Geberem... What does this say?
Holy Casper: Geberemedhen.
GOD: Well, that's not English! Where is that in the King James?
HC: [shrugs.]
GOD: Father!
Priest: Here am I, Lord! What does thou wishest of me?
GOD: Listen, this whole AIDS thing you guys can't seem to keep under wraps. What are you all doing about that?
Priest: We teach the abstinence.
GOD: And?
Priest: We do not allow the women to speak--we keep them subject to their husbands.
GOD: Err...
Priest: We do not allow them to know about the condoms and other worldly things that would keep them from reproducing, as is your command.
GOD: You know, I never actually said--
Priest: And we beat the children with the rod, as you commanded, O great God in the Sky!
GOD: About that--
Priest: We teach about your son's blood, and it's cleansing powers--
GOD: Yeah, um, that metaphor has been--
Priest: --and how wrong will be punished with eternal hell fires! We teach--
GOD: Hell is actually more for Satan, my evil twin brother...
Priest: --how a simple prayer and baptism will give eternal life! And cleanse of their sins, much like the leprosy in Jesus time--
GOD: That, too, was a simple story that got way out of hand in the retelling--
Priest: --and how the blood washes away the dirt and sins of the world--
GOD: All you need is a good bath to get rid of dirt... And some Tide if it's in the clothes. That Shout stuff works pretty good on my whites. Gets them their whitest! But, listen, we're off-topic here...
Priest: You wish me to bathe? Get white?
GOD: No, that's not--
Priest: Oh, yes, like John the Baptist! Eat the locust! Bless the water! I see, my Lord!
GOD: I don't think you do--
Priest: Sorry, must go! Have AIDS to cure!
GOD: Father Gerber? Hello?
Holy Casper: Sorry, God, the line has been disconnected. For $1.25, I can redial the number...?
GOD: Why bother? It all gets lost in translation anyway...
Sadly, it isn't the only thing people have lost when it comes to the imaginary playmates for adults in today's day and age... When will churches stop preying on the poor and uneducated? When will they start helping? Their own book speaks of putting away childish things (imaginary friends, perhaps?), but instead they spread myths, lies, and ultimately diseases, pestilence, and death...

While claiming to pedal life...

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Circles of Time; or How Many Short-Sighted Republicans Does It Take to Keep the U.S. at War for Decades?

Q: What could be scarier than being doomed to fight a war of our own making with an incompetent wanna-be dictator?

A: Watching him recreate the very scenario that got us into this mess in the first place.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, our fearless (and stupid) Emperor of the United States not only built his entire administration with Cold War antiquities to run a post-Cold War democracy (and ruin it), it seems that we are now supporting terrorism in Pakistan in the hopes of toppling Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government (and, by default, their nuclear ambitions).

In fact, as early as July of 2005, reports surfaced of the United States supporting (but not openly--Iran/Contra scandal anyone?) a rebel Pakistani group who knowingly attacked soldiers and citizens in Iran. And again in November of 2006, reports surfaced of the United States protecting conferences held by these rebel groups.

But wait! you may be saying. How is this history repeating itself? Are you just another deranged liberal nutcase yanking at straws? Let's look at who put Saddam Hussein in power, shall we? Look here.:

The last time Donald Rumsfeld saw Saddam Hussein, he gave him a cordial handshake. The date was almost 20 years ago, Dec. 20, 1983; an official Iraqi television crew recorded the historic moment.


Like most foreign-policy insiders, Rumsfeld was aware that Saddam was a murderous thug who supported terrorists and was trying to build a nuclear weapon. (The Israelis had already bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor at Osirak.) But at the time, America's big worry was Iran, not Iraq. The Reagan administration feared that the Iranian revolutionaries who had overthrown the shah (and taken hostage American diplomats for 444 days in 1979-81) would overrun the Middle East and its vital oilfields. On the-theory that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, the Reaganites were seeking to support Iraq in a long and bloody war against Iran. The meeting between Rumsfeld and Saddam was consequential: for the next five years, until Iran finally capitulated, the United States backed Saddam's armies with military intelligence, economic aid and covert supplies of munitions.
And remember that little thing called the "war on terror," where we are supposedly trying to hunt down Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, and other persons who were actually involved in the 9/11 "incident"? We used to be great buddies. Really! See here:

The creation of the West's newest and perhaps deadliest enemy began in 1979, when the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in an effort to prop up the country's communist government. The CIA, eager to stop the spread of Marxist ideology, spent $3 billion arming and equipping the Islamic rebels, known as the mujahedin. The rebels objected to the secular, puppet government.

After a decade of combat that has been compared to the U.S. experience in Vietnam, war-weary Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, and the United States stopped supporting the rebels. The CIA didn't offer to rebuild the ravaged country or work out a replacement government. Soon, civil strife erupted among Afghanistan's tribes, leaving the country's 21 million residents without running water or health care.


"In an ironic reversal of roles, it is this militancy, born in the crucible of the Cold War and baptized in Afghanistan by the U.S. itself, which the U.S. now proclaims as its principal enemy," Pakistani political analyst Ayaz Amir said.
And here we are again: backing a rebel group to overthrow a regime we don't care much for. The latest story was on ABC's World News Tonight, in which U.S. officials said:

U.S. officials say the U.S. relationship with Jundullah is arranged so that the U.S. provides no funding to the group, which would require an official presidential order or "finding" as well as congressional oversight.
And we all know how much the Shrubya's hate Congressional oversight, right? I mean, Congress might try to exercise it's constitutional authority and derail this mess before it comes back to bite us in the ass, and what Bush needs that? Further,

A CIA spokesperson said "the account of alleged CIA action is false" and reiterated that the U.S. provides no direct funding of the Jundullah group.

Pakistani government sources say the secret campaign against Iran by Jundullah was on the agenda when Vice President Dick Cheney met with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in February.


Some former CIA officers say the arrangement is reminiscent of how the U.S. government used proxy armies, funded by other countries including Saudi Arabia, to destabilize the government of Nicaragua in the 1980s.
Doesn't the irony just make you want to barf?

Of course, now that we're admitted state sponsors of terrorism, does that mean we'll be invading ourselves anytime soon? Bush has been eyeing those oil reserves in Alaska for some time now...

Monday, April 2, 2007

Brinks, Brinks Everywhere...

It's amazing how truly little there is to watch on daytime TV. It makes one almost wish for work. Of course, being back at work today, I was missing that nap at about 12:30 that I normally took (yeah, "normally," as if seven days of disease-ridden time spent at home is "normal") when all the soap operas started up in earnest.

Of course, time spent with oneself, no matter how miserably feverish and cough-racked your body may be, is time well spent as long as one doesn't get sucked in to Judge Maria Lopez or Jerry Springer. Of course, a little TIME magazine and Advocate doesn't hurt either, and it was in reading this second periodical that got me on my soap box (poor Rich--of course, that bastard didn't get sick, so... Not-so-poor Rich...) and like the trooper that he is, let me rant and rave between coughing spasms as if it were all in a day's work, sky god bless him.

What started me on my rant? you ask. It was this small snippet on page 56:

"It was obscene to show Prince, a homosexual person, through a sheet [so] as to show his silhouette while his guitar showed a very phallic symbol coming from his below-midriff section. I am very offended, and I would prefer not to have showed it to my four children, who love football. One of them has hoped to be a quarter-back, and now he will turn out gay. I am actually considering to check him for HIV. Thanks, CBS, for turning my son gay."

--An anonymous television viewer in a written complaint to the Federal Communications Commission about Prince's performance at this year's Super Bowl half-time show, February 5

I don't know how morons like this end up getting enough of an education to learn how to write words, but don't know enough to engage their other faculties in any sort of normal manner. I know, let's play a game--how many illogical self-made fallacies can you find in the anonymous persons "comment" (if we could actually call it that...).

Among the other things that managed to stir life into my bones was this whole fiasco over the troops funding bill. Bush and Cheney want money to continue to wage their personal war. Congress said, "Okay, but here are the rules for more money." Now Bush says he'll veto the bill (so the troops won't get the money) and try to blame the evil democrats. He claims, among other things, that Congress is trying to micromanage the war (as the Bush/Cheney team would never, ever do such a thing). For an administration who's so keen on "strict constructionists on the Constitution" for the federal and judiciary branch of our government, he sure takes a wide, stretchy view of the executive branch, doesn't he? What does the Constitution say about times of war and how it relates to the legislative and executive branches?

Article 2, section 2: The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States;

Article 1, section 8: To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
So did you get all that? Bush is in charge of the military, but Congress is in charge of making the rules of war, how the money is spent, and how and when war shall begin and end. But... but...

Yeah, you 30% who still think Bush is doing a "heck of a job" are disappointed that he can't really keep his monarchy going. The war is going to end. Hopefully sooner rather than later. But knowing Bush, as everything else that Congress has forced on him throughout his presidency, he'll spin it to make it look and sound like his idea... And a lot of you will swallow it: hook, line and sinker...

Silly sheep...

Only 21 more months and this nightmare will hopefully end...

There's much more to share and rant and rave about, but I'm still exhausted from the bronchitis and such. Being the giving person that I am, I must apologize to my older brother, mother, and father, who, although only in my house for about an hour, managed to contract my sickness (even though Rich lives here and barely sniffled the whole week and a half, the bastard). Hope you're all feeling better soon as well. And thanks to you, my readers, for your well-wishes, both posted and emailed. It's much appreciated.