Archive for April, 2011

SLIMED

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 27 Comments

Every now and then, I’ll run across an Internet site or post that disgusts me so much that’ll I’ll immediately clear my computer’s cache so that I can remove all memory of ever having visited the place.  The Internet equivalent of a long, hot shower, you might say.  The following is a prime example.

Wonkette, a site edited by a blogger named Ken Layne, who used to be interesting until Bush Derangement Syndrome cost him what was left of his mind, just ran this hit “humor” piece on Trig Palin, Sarah Palin’s three-year-old son.

The one with Down Syndrome.

But welcome to the era of social media.  Via Twitter comes word that this piece has cost Skankette two of its advertisers, Huggies diapers and Papa John’s pizza.

UPDATE: Vanguard Financial has pulled its ads.  And here’s Ken Layne’s “apology.”

I have four kids myself and I wouldn’t want them mocked on the Internet by a bunch of cretins on the Internet. And that’s just one reason why I wouldn’t parade my children around in the media. What kind of mother does that?

In any case, Jack has been admonished and put on night probation until further notice. Anything involving Palin, I want to make it extra clear that *Palin* is the problem with America. Not her kids. Not her little kid, anyway. The older ones seem to be on their own path and you can’t really blame Sarah for it, although she certainly encourages the sleaziest possible behavior from her grown children, which is hardly a very “family values” thing to do. But as far as Jack’s future, a few months on the night shift  cleaning up the furious, ALLCAPS unmoderated Wonkette comments, without pay, should teach him a thing or two about writing stuff that confuses the target. Trig is cool with us. Sarah Palin, on the other hand, is a grave danger to America.

Whatever, candy ass.

UPDATE: Hiding the evidence.

UPDATE: I’d get to work on an actual apology, Layne.  The Holland America cruise line has pulled its ads.

UPDATE: On second thought, Ken, forget the actual apology and get started on your abject grovel.  Bob Evans and Nordstrom have joined the stampede.

UPDATE: The exsanguination continues as Reliant Energy jumps ship.

UPDATE: Here’s the complete list of companies who dropped Wonkette over this story.

UPDATE: Ken Layne.  Father of the year.

UPDATE: Skankette has pulled the post.  Click on the first link.

THIS JUST IN

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 29 Comments

Katharine Jefferts Schori is a liar.  There, I said it:

[Schori] can’t simply give the property to the people who want to leave the Episcopal Church, because that would violate her responsibility to guard the inheritance of the denomination that she leads, she said.

“The buildings and the bank accounts are the legacy of generations before us. I don’t have the right to give those away for other purposes. My fiduciary responsibility, my moral responsibility, is to see that those gifts are used for the ministry to which God calls us in the Episcopal Church. I can’t give it away to the Methodists or the Orthodox Church or a Jewish synagogue,” she said.

Islam, on the other hand, gets a discount.

WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 53 Comments

Roman Catholics?  This is the Mirror(UK) so caveat emptor and all that.  But there seems to be a chance that one of your prodigals might be looking to come home.  Sort of:

For the past 15 years, she has been Kabbalah’s most high profile and dedicated follower.

But now Madonna has apparently ditched the controversial faith and taken up with Opus Dei – the secretive Catholic sect made famous in The Da Vinci Code.

The singer is said to be intrigued by the organisation and spent Friday with priests from the centre’s London HQ.

The move follows her alleged falling out with some Kabbalah leaders after reports that cash raised for her Malawi charity was squandered. Last night a source claimed: “She has invested so much into Kabbalah so she was devastated by these damning accusations.

“She has started exploring different religions. Madonna has always been intrigued by Opus Dei. As yet, she’s not a fully paid-up member – she’s just had informal chats.”

Not to worry.  I’ve got a hundy says that the old broad will eventually end up as an Episcopalian.  And that someone in TEO will create a Madonna-charist.

DECK CHAIRS, TITANIC, SOME REARRANGING REQUIRED

Monday, April 18th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 30 Comments

George Clifford is an honest man.  You won’t hear any Katharine Jefferts Schori fake optimism from him about the state of the Episcopal Organization.  George can read and he knows that TEO is boned:

The picture is deeply depressing for people who value TEC. Median attendance in Episcopal congregations was 66 in 2009, 72 in 2006, and 77 in 2003. If that rate of decline continues (i.e., median attendance declining by 5 people every 3 years), in 15 years the median attendance will be 31 and in 30 years attendance will average just 6 people on a Sunday per congregation.

This decline constitutes an existential threat to TEC. Unless TEC reverses the decline, TEC will soon become a remnant numbering in the tens of thousands. When that happens, the media will not care, and few non-Episcopalians will even notice, what the Episcopal Church says or does. TEC will no longer be a vital incarnation of God’s love in Christ. Instead, TEC will have gone from being the established church in several eighteenth century American colonies and states to being a twenty-first century anachronism.

Can TEO pull out of its death spiral?  Clifford thinks so.  The first thing TEO needs to do is to spout management jargon for some reason.

Contrary to some pessimists, I do not believe that the current trajectory and prospective fate of TEC are irreversible. Change is possible. Even as a small rudder can steer a mighty ship, so can visionary leadership steer an organization. Adding the momentum of committed people and well-utilized resources to that vision will accelerate the speed of organizational transformation.

Visionary leadership begins with a simple question: What is our agenda? That question integrates vision (who we are) and mission (what we do) into an action-oriented proposition. An agenda that addresses the root causes of numerical decline may enable TEC to alter course. An agenda that fails to address fifty years of relentless numerical decline in TEC is tantamount to acceding to the denomination’s passing from influence and presence on the American scene.

How does that translate to real life?

From an objective, statistical perspective the analysis proceeds easily. Identify congregations that waste resources based on average Sunday attendance. Then find and implement a creative alternative. Some congregations could merge, with either another TEC congregation or a congregation with whom TEC has intercommunion. Other TEC congregations could yoke together, establishing team ministries, as is increasingly happening in the Church of England. In both cases, congregations could cede surplus assets to the diocese and utilize revenues, previously expended on building maintenance and staff support, to fund mission. Dioceses, serving fewer congregations, would also have more resources for mission.

Also, the Episcopalians should double down on the brain-dead leftism.

Yet, we in TEC have some cause for hope. The Episcopal congregations most likely to have experienced numerical growth in the past decade are large and very liberal congregations, according to the 2010 Faith Communities Today Survey. A Church committed to ongoing renewal, a Church that seeks to live ever more fully into love for God and others, and a Church that recognizes that theology, worship, and resources are but earthen vessels is a Church that will become an increasingly vibrant and alive incarnation of the body of Christ. I want this future, this agenda, for TEC. I believe God wants this future, this agenda, for TEC.

Look at it this way; at least they’ll be all in one place.  But there is something that TEO must make certain that it doesn’t do.

I am not arguing, à la Rick Warren and The Purpose Drive Life, that the Church’s purpose is evangelism.

Who didn’t see that one coming up the street?  I’m not liking your chances there, George.

THE THREAT

Monday, April 18th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 83 Comments

If this Jonathan Wynne-Jones story in the Telegraph is accurate, Pope Benedict XVI’s offer of an Ordinariate to traditionalist Anglicans may turn out to be a master stroke:

Dressed in their black cassocks, the three Anglican bishops had hoped to pass unnoticed as they emerged from the Vatican into the shadows lengthening across St Peter’s Square.

Having just assured one of the Pope’s key advisers of their momentous decision to defect to Rome, they walked along the cobbled streets fearful of being recognised, hoping to keep these discussions to themselves.

The Church of England appears to be a lot more upset than it is letting on.

But they were betrayed even before they had returned to England, with word of their meeting spreading from one rectory to another, angering and alarming clergy loyal to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who feared he was being undermined by this papal gambit tempting disaffected Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church.

This week, the plots hatched behind closed doors in the Vatican last year will be played out in the open as the former bishops lead dozens of clergy and hundreds of worshippers in taking up this historic offer.

Stop right there.  “Papal gambit,” Gracie?  “Plots hatched behind closed doors in the Vatican?”  Jon, the Anglicans approached Rome; all Benedict did was to make it as easy as he could for them to do what they wanted to do.  But do go on.

The Pope’s offer to Anglicans has divided parishes across the country – even causing an acrimonious split in a convent – and has sorely tested relations between the two Churches, with Rowan Williams reduced to a mere bystander as a congregation in his own diocese became the first to head to Rome.

The C of E is desperately trying to keep trads on board.

Anglican bishops have visited their traditionalist clergy in an attempt to prevent the wave of defections from growing.

While those who have already swum the Tiber are telling trads how nice the water is.

Meanwhile, their former colleagues travel the country talking to priests considering joining this quiet revolution.

In Great Britain at least, the Ordinariate has the potential to completely reshape British Christianity.

According to Fr John Broadhurst, one of the former bishops who has been pivotal in establishing the framework, the exodus to Rome could swell to tens of thousands once the Ordinariate begins to take shape.

“This could herald a real transformation of the English religious scene and be an aid to the conversion of England,” he says.

Why?  Conservative Episcopalians will find the following painfully familiar.

For [Broadhurst] and dozens of other traditionalists, it no longer resembles the Church they entered. Instead, they feel it has grown increasingly liberal and intolerant of dissenters. “It has changed out of all recognition from the Church I joined,” says Fr Geoffrey Kirk, of St Stephen’s, Lewisham, and the former secretary of Forward in Faith, an Anglo-Catholic group representing up to 1,000 clergy.

“Orthodox Christians in the Church of England are being marginalised by this liberal agenda that keeps on accelerating. You look around the leadership of the Church and there’s no one there who is likely to stop it.”

Yet for David Lashbrooke, who is married with children, his concerns at developments in the Church of England outweigh his material needs. “It’s an extraordinarily difficult decision to make as I’m leaving behind people I’ve ministered to for a long time, but I’m disappointed by the Church [of England] and how it seems to be led by popular culture these days,” he says.

Mr Lashbrooke was the priest at St Mary the Virgin in Torquay for a decade, but last month he told parishioners he was “putting away his sword after fighting for the Church to remember her roots.”  He then placed his chasuble and stole on the altar and walked out of the church, leaving behind him a stunned congregation, many of whom were in tears.

However, the church has been divided by Mr Lashbrooke’s decision, with 50 members of the congregation following him to the Ordinariate.

Let’s see.  In this corner, we have the Roman Catholic Church.  Whatever theological disagreements one might have with Rome, one cannot dispute that it is a theologically serious place.  In this corner, we have the Church of England which is a theological mess any way you look at it and whose Episcopalianization is rapidly proceeding.

Pope Benedict XVI is a theologian who can arrive at an answer now and again and who thinks that it is a good idea not to change settled Church teaching unless there is a pillar of cloud and/or fire somewhere nearby.  The Archbishop of Canterbury, on the other hand, thinks everybody is right even when they contradict one another and therefore the journey is the destination.

The Bishop of Rome is a Christian leader.  When confronted with the Anglican problem, he pushed through a plan rather quickly.  The Archbishop of Canterbury is a Christian conversation facilitator.  One of the reasons why the Vatican left Dr. Williams out of the process is that if they’d let him in, they’d still be discussing how the first sentence in Anglicanorum Coetibus should read.

I can’t understand the Ordinariate’s appeal.  I can’t understand it at all.

AWWWWW

Monday, April 18th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Jim Naughton headlines this post ”Court rules for Diocese of Ohio in case v. schismatic churches.”  I didn’t have any particular reason for citing it.  I just think that it’s positively adorable when guys like Jim use words like “schismatic” with a straight face.

YOU LOAD SIXTEEN TONS, WHAT DO YOU GET?

Monday, April 18th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Another day older and deeper in debt.

NOT AS OTHER MEN ARE

Sunday, April 17th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 25 Comments

Tom Ehrich, writer, church consultant, Episcopal priest and pompous baboon, believes that the Internet sucks royally:

The United States has always had its share of nutcases and shady characters in public life. In other words, Donald Trump is nothing new, and his presidential campaign package of absurd claims isn’t without precedent.

In an all-wired, let’s-go-viral world of non-information posing as information, these outliers can gain traction. In a saner era, somebody would have told Trump to go back to building unprofitable casinos. No newspaper with sense would dignify today’s bigotry with 24/7 coverage. No network claiming authority would employ people whose wild-eyed extremism makes a mockery of the Fourth Estate.

Actually, Tom, the Fourth Estate made a mockery of itself a long time ago.  But let me translate.  What’s got Tom’s panties in a wad is the fact that people are not simply taking the news media’s word for it anymore because the Internet allows people to investigate matters for themselves and express views that are at odds with the official narrative that Professional JournalismTM has carefully crafted.

Thanks to Rupert Murdoch, they even have their own television network to legitimize streams of vitriol, conspiracy theories, fears, rages, and suspicion. In the brave new world of leveling-by-Internet, anybody can say anything and claim to be an authority.

Am I good or what?  Tom can’t grasp the fact that there are people in the world who disagree with him.  They must be driven by “streams of vitriol, conspiracy theories, fears, rages and suspicion” because to limited intellects like Ehrich’s, they’re comprehensible no other way.

Tom?  If you want to see some real vitriol, fear and rage, click here.  Those aren’t Tea Partiers, big smacker.  (WARNING: if you click on that link, MAKE SURE that your children aren’t around and can’t hear it.  Because it is that vile).

Who’s to say a website is packed with lies or useful information? For example, I followed the thread of a comment by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., criticizing Tea Party folks for threatening other people’s free speech. By the time his original words had fanned out to two dozen right-wing websites, they had morphed into a preference for terrorists over Tea Partiers.

Tom?  Leaving aside the libel that the Tea Party is threatening anyone’s free speech, before you start talking about other people’s “lies,” you might want to, oh, I don’t know, attribute that quote.  Tell us what Sen. Lautenberg actually said and when and where the Lout actually said it.

Clifford, down at Red Stick Rant, did a little digging and thinks this is what you’re referring to.  Speaking at a Murder Inc. rally, Sen. Lautenberg said of Tea Partiers, “These people don’t deserve the freedoms in the Constitution.”  When pressed as to whether he was serious, the Lout added, “But we’ll give it to them anyway.”

And as Clifford points out, the Lout did vote to grant constitutional rights to Guantanamo detainees. So all those “right-wing websites” didn’t jump to an unreasonable conclusion.

When search goes social and truth becomes whatever your network of friends says it is, accurate information loses out to “crowd-sourcing.” With some deft packaging of keywords, video links and photos, you can game the algorithms and seduce throngs into believing whatever you post.

Really?  So if I take my Flip camcorder to an event, record what someone actually says and then post it here, I’m gaming the algorithms and seducing the uncountable throngs who visit this site into believing whatever I want them to believe?  I wish someone had told me that sooner.  I might have been able to get a date or something.

Legions of bloggers and website editors comb the news — real and phony — for snippets that can be lifted out, distorted, repackaged and then sent to partisans as if their worst fears had just been realized.

MSNBC would like a word with you, Tom.

I doubt that leaders of partisan causes will be motivated to disseminate accurate information. Those who fund them want more cheapening of media and public discourse, not less. Officeholders who won by deceit won’t suddenly embrace honesty.

So would Barack Obama.

First, not everyone will be cowed or wooed by faux information. Some will follow the actual thread, see what the speaker actually did say, what the legislation’s language actually specifies, what real statistics show, what untainted documents indicate, and they will continue to expose distortions. Big lies only prevail if truth-seekers go silent. Truth-seekers, I expect, will fight back.

That’s kind of what we’re doing now, Tom.  And kind of why you’re so pissed off about it.

I’ve said several times and still believe that the current Anglican controversy was Internet-driven.  Without the Web, Gene Robinson could have been spun as just another liberal Episcopal goofball bishop, no different than John Shelby Spong.

But the Internet short-circuited the process.  Instantly, the whole world knew that the Episcopalians had elected(and later confirmed) an unrepentant sinner to the highest office in the Episcopal Organization.

And Anglicans the world over had to instantly react to it.

Tom Ehrich’s thinly-veiled contempt for traditionalist Anglicanism is obvious, as is his scorn for anyone who dissents from the official line, whether in politics or any other area of life.  But Tom’s a hopeful guy.

In the end, vindictive partisans won’t prevail against common sense and a free people’s determination to remain free.

Tru dat.  It’s just that Tom’s really not going to like the conclusion to which quite a few Americans will come when they figure that out.

OPTIONS

Sunday, April 17th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 39 Comments

I can see only two possible alternatives here.  Either the Anglican parish of Holy Trinity and St. Mary’s, Guildford, UK, got its web site hacked or the people there are some of the most vile in the world.  Dear Lord, I hope it’s the former.  In case you have trouble reading the cartoon, here’s a larger version.

Props to Damian.

UPDATE: The cartoon finally seems to have been removed.

THE 2011 JIM WALLIS FASTING ACROSS AMERICA TOUR!!

Friday, April 15th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Inspired by this.  Video link here:

THERE ARE NO ATHEISTS IN FOXHOLES

Friday, April 15th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 43 Comments

These days, they’re all in Church of England pulpits.  Why Giles Fraser bothers to put “Rev” in front of his name completely escapes me:

One of the great privileges of being a priest is that I often get the opportunity to be with people when they die. It frequently astonishes me that, despite the ubiquity of death, this is something a great many people have never actually seen. Little wonder we’re so frightened of death. It used to be something public, but now it’s pushed out of life. Whereas we used to die at home surrounded by friends and family, we now die in hospitals, often alone and hidden behind expensive technology.

If you’re about to kick the bucket, cash in your stack, buy the farm, shuffle off this mortal coil or run down the curtain and join the choir invisible, the Fraze is the very last guy you want to see walk into your hospital or hospice room, believe you me.

It’s commonly assumed that Christians don’t really believe in death at all, that we subscribe to the view that when we die we go on living in some other realm, or in some disembodied form. Just to be clear: I believe nothing of the sort. I don’t like the euphemistic language of “passing on” or “having gone to sleep”. Nor do I subscribe to Platonic ideas about the immortality of the soul. When you die, you die. As the first letter of St. Paul to Timothy puts it: “God alone is immortal

“Hello, John.”

“Vicar!  Lovely to see you!”

“The doctor tells me that you haven’t got much longer.”

“Three or four days.  A week at most.”

“Anyway, since I know you don’t have any family left, I thought I’d come out and offer what little comfort I can.”

“Thank you, vicar.  You’re a good bloke.”

“John, are you frightened of death?”

“Was for a while.  But then I thought it’ll be great to see me mum and dad again.  And me brother Sid.  And I’ve missed me wife Mary terribly all these years so I guess seein’ Mary again’ll be the best part of all.”

“Unfortunately, John, you won’t be seeing any of them.”

“Come again, vicar?”

“There’s no afterlife if that’s what you were referring to just now.”

“Then where’s me mum and dad?  Where’s me dear Mary?”

“Mary’s probably still a skeleton.  But considering how long ago it was, whatever was left of your parents has no doubt eroded out to sea by now.”

“Then what’s the bloody purpose o’ life?”

“The purpose of life is life.”

“Not followin’ ya, vicar.”

“Think of it like this.  Suppose you’re in a pub and you have a pint of the best ale you ever tasted.  When you drink the last of it, you at least have the memory of what a great pint of ale you just drank, don’t you?”

“Still not followin’ ya.”

“As your life slowly ebbs away, you’ll begin to learn what a great blessing your life was.”

“Seems like I wouldn’t be able to learn all that much if me life was ebbin’ away, vicar.”

“Well, I’m sure you’ll get the gist of it.  Has any of this comforted you, John?”

“Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ve ‘elped a lot.  Listen, vicar, I’m a bit tired so, uh…”

“I understand, John.  Best of luck, old boy.”

“Vicar?”

“Yes, John?”

“Could you do me a favor on your way out?”

“Certainly, John.  Anything, just name it.”

“Ask the Roman Catholic bloke to pay me a visit.”

Today is Ash Wednesday. Like millions of Christians around the world, I will be marked with ash and told that I am dust and to dust I shall return. There is nothing depressing or morbid about any of this – in fact, quite the reverse. Personally speaking, it leaves me with a more intense sense of the preciousness of human life, something that’s intimately bound up with its intrinsic limit and fragility.

It seems to me that it would be difficult to have an “intense sense” about much of anything once you’re compost.

Indeed, the problem with the modern lack of experience of death is precisely that it robs us of this very intensification. Life without death is “just one damned thing after another.” For death gives life its urgency: now is the opportunity to love and respond to love, to be different, to make a difference, to change the world. There is no time to waste.

The Rev. Dr. Depressthehelloutofthem doesn’t really like the idea of eternal life.  I mean, it’s so bloody long.

This is why I have little enthusiasm for the idea that science might be able to keep us alive indefinitely, that through cryogenic suspension or uploading our DNA onto computers we might be able to achieve immortality. I’m not saying these extraordinary things will never be possible ” who can say? ” but rather, that the best these technologies can ever offer is a life that goes on and on and on. And if I can put it like this: more and more of me, extended over time, doesn’t really solve the problem of being me.

Well sure, if Heaven was all about Captain Buzzkill.  But the Picar of Vutney has the option of forgetting about himself for a moment or two and enjoying the loving presence of his heavenly Father which I wouldn’t think ever gets old.  So there’s that.

When theologians like Boethius and Augustine speak of entering eternity they mean something altogether different from this: for eternity is outside of time, unrelated to temporal sequence. Which is why eternity can be as much as quality of our present experience, more an expansion of our imagination, a call to reach beyond claustrophobic self-absorption and to see the world anew.

Is this heaven?  No, it’s Kensington.  Or Croydon.  Or Hounslow.  Wait, what city is this? 

Dr. Williams?  If you ever decide to seriously deal with the fact that nobody attends your churches anymore, I know a good place to start.

TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 42 Comments

As we approach Easter, we once again confront the central fact of human history, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave, something a “Christian” named Steve McSwain, who describes himself as a “speaker, thinker, inter-faith activist and spiritual teacher,” wants nothing to do with:

Why have I come to believe the resurrection story is more metaphorical than literal?

Well, the most obvious reason is, it’s more believable. Maybe it’s easy for you to live in a mythical, magical world of make-believe (and, if so, so be it), but I cannot.

Great move there, “spiritual teacher.”  Sneer at people.  That’ll win them over.

I’ve conducted too many funerals in my lifetime, walked through too many stone-cold cemeteries and stood beside too many grieving souls (my own included) whose family members had gone the way that we all will go — the way of death — to believe anything other than death is pretty fatal and pretty final.

Unless you’re God Incarnate.

You can pretend all you’d like that it isn’t so. Dress up the altar with lilies and sing as loud as you can “Up From the Grave He Arose.” But, one day, you’ll discover for yourself that all the pretending in the world won’t keep you from going to the grave. You will die, just as I will die.

Wow.  What an insightful spiritual insight that is; no wonder the guy’s a “spiritual teacher.”  But can I let you in on something, Steve?  I figured out that you and I are going to die a long time ago.  I also figured out that neither one of us is God Incarnate.

But why does Steve bother with Jesus at all?  Take a guess.

There was at time in my life when I would not have understood what he was saying at all. But ever since that moment I describe in my book, I now get it. This is the miracle of the resurrection to me. It is this Jesus whose life, influence and teachings, when practiced, so transform today that there is little interest in you for yesterday or tomorrow. This is a resurrected Jesus I can relate to — and I do.

There’s no I in Jesus, Steverino.

And this is precisely the second reason why the Easter story need not be literal to have transformative power. My own experience gives witness to this. For example, when I tried to believe the things I was told to believe and that questioning my beliefs was a sign of weakness and lack of faith, I tried to conform. For much of my adult life, I ignored my questions and said silly things like, “The Bible says it, I believe it; that settles it.” But then, a death in my family, as well as the death of a marriage and a few other traumatic things, caused that weak foundation to give way. My life shattered. So did my fragile faith. I realized I could no longer ignore my doubts or my questions. So, I let them rip. But, amazingly, what I discovered is, instead of being obstacles, they became the building blocks of a resurrection faith.

In nothing in particular.

You can delude yourself into believing that questioning things is a lack of faith.

Nobody ever said that, Steve.  There hasn’t been a Christian who hasn’t wondered about all this from time to time.

But I would be inclined to remind you that until you DO question your faith, you really have no faith at all. What you have instead is a collection of beliefs — beliefs that a frightened little ego in you will cling to for a sense of security and identity with other little egos that cling to a similar set of beliefs — but these beliefs will not translate into personal inner transformation.

What Steve means here, of course, is that you’ll never get anywhere in life until you drop your stupid, silly, juvenile, scientifically impossible and completely outmoded belief that Jesus walked out of that Tomb and ascended to the Father and believe in Steve’s Jesus.

They will not sustain you through life either. They didn’t for me.

Ah, well, that settles it then.  Close the churches down. 

It was not until I questioned and doubted the things I was taught, including the bodily resurrection of Jesus, that I met, and believed — or, fell in love with — a genuine and believable Jesus whose teachings, whose enduring spirit, and whose eternal influence continues to guide seekers into a transformative relationship with themselves and with the Divine.

Actually, Steve, the only thing you fell in love with was a “Jesus” who didn’t get in your way.  Your “Jesus” probably has nothing to say about repenting from one’s sins or doing the will of the Father in heaven.

Steve?  Everybody reading this has experienced deaths and tragedies of all kinds.  Everybody reading this has had dark stretches that seemed as if they would never end.  Every Christian in the middle of one of those stretches has thought those thoughts.

Every Christian has had times in their lives when Psalm 88 was the only prayer they could make themselves pray.

I’ll be honest with you, Steve.  During the worst time of my entire life so far (May, 1990 through October, 1992), if I thought that Jesus was nothing more than some dead First Century Jewish sage who had a way with words, you probably wouldn’t be reading this since I would have ODed on phenobarbital some time in 1991.

Because a “great teacher” wouldn’t have, couldn’t have, convinced me to hang on.  Metaphors can’t save anyone.  But the Son of the Living God who was put to death and walked out of His tomb three days later did.

That’s my experience anyway.

YIN/YANG

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Obama on January, 2010: Hey, let’s not demonize people, okay?

“We’re not going to be able to do anything about any of these entitlements if what we do is characterize whatever proposals are put out there as, ‘Well, you know, that’s — the other party’s being irresponsible. The other party is trying to hurt our senior citizens. That the other party is doing X, Y, Z.”

Obama today: Ah screw it.  Go ahead and demonize away.

“One vision has been championed by Republicans in the House of Representatives and embraced by several of their party’s presidential candidates…This is a vision that says up to 50 million Americans have to lose their health insurance in order for us to reduce the deficit.  And who are those 50 million Americans?  Many are someone’s grandparents who wouldn’t be able afford nursing home care without Medicaid.  Many are poor children.  Some are middle-class families who have children with autism or Down’s syndrome.  Some are kids with disabilities so severe that they require 24-hour care.  These are the Americans we’d be telling to fend for themselves.”

Via the indispensible Jake Tapper.

WILD RIDE

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 42 Comments

Longtime readers of whatever it is that I do around here know that there are two people I generally don’t like to write about.  One of them is John Shelby Spong.  “Did you see what Spong wrote?” is a question I never need to be asked because I always know what that megalomaniacal old fraud will write long before he writes it.

Whatever the topic happens to be, Spong will declare that his ridiculous and stupid opinions are established facts attested by the “best scholarship.”  Actually, they’ll be more than established facts; Moses brought them down from Mount Sinai.  And John, of course, will be sneeringly contemptuous of anything remotely resembling conservative or traditionalist Christianity in any of its forms.

Been there, done that.

The other guy I don’t like to write about is Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of As-If-Anybody-Gives-A-Crap-Anymore.  For one thing, the guy’s a first-class publicity whore, one of the best ever, and I don’t like to give him any more run than he already gets.  Secondly, he’s a theological airhead and there are times when I just can’t make myself suffer fools gladly.

But Robbie recently spoke at Cornell University and got off some howlers that are worthy of public attention:

Bishop Gene Robinson has a favorite bumper sticker: Guns don’t kill people, religions do.

“That would be funny if it weren’t true,” he said. “I would argue that 95 percent of all the pain and prejudice we as LGBT people have experienced can be laid at the feet of religious people.”

I guess “95 percent of all the pain and prejudice” adulterers feel comes when “religious people” tell them that sleeping around on their husbands/wives is wrong.  And “95 percent of all the pain and prejudice” alcoholics feel comes when “religious people” tell them that they should stop drinking.  You going somewhere with this, Robbie?

In his lecture, “How Religion is Killing Our Most Vulnerable Youth,” Robinson drew laughs, applause and cheers. He discussed how society has arrived at this debate, said it is unknown what God thinks about homosexuality, and said it is not enough to simply be tolerant of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

We don’t know what God thinks about homosexuality?  How do you figure seeing as how homosexual activity is condemned throughout Scripture and Jesus considered sexual immorality in all its forms to be defiling?  Easy, says Robbie.  The Creator of the universe doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo.

But what seems to be so clear in the Bible, he said, is really not clear at all. It is vital to look at the context of the Bible. Same-sex behavior existed in ancient times, but homosexuality did not, Robinson said.

The word “homosexual” is used in the Bible because of translations that were made, but homosexual orientation is a notion that is just 140 years old, and scripture is silent about homosexuality, he said.

“The Bible isn’t talking about homosexuals,” he said. “It seems to be real clear what God thinks about homosexuality, when in fact it is completely unknown.”

All together now.  Um…WHAT?!!  Can I ask you something, Robbie?  What do you and that boyfriend of yours do in your bedroom at night?  Play endless games of Yahtzee?  Work on your stamp collections?

This seems to be the procedure:

(1) Decide that you’re “oriented” to commit a sin you particularly enjoy.
(2) Declare that the Bible writers and, by extension, the Holy Spirit Who inspired them, weren’t up to speed on your “orientation.”
(3) Get a whole lot of really important people with theological degrees to agree with you.
(4) PAR -TAY!!

Then Robbie plays this old tune.

Scripture has been used to defend slavery and the mistreatment of women, he said. Now scripture is wrongly being used to speak out against homosexuality, he said, but society has a chance to correct this misconception.

Said it before and I’ll say it again, Gene.  You get to play the slavery card ONLY when you can show me where in the Scriptures anyone is commanded by God to own a slave.  Because I can show you lots and lots of places where we are commanded by God never to do what you and your boyfriend like to do in your off-hours.

But Robbie’s a tolerant guy.  Up to a point.

Instead of simply being tolerant of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, Robinson said, the majority must actively support this group of people and fight for their rights.

“When we get white people beginning to understand they are paying a price for racism, or men realizing they are paying a price for sexism, or straight people realizing they are paying a price for the exclusion of LGBT people, then we will get somewhere,” he said.

Thanks but no thanks, R.  But I would kind of like to be in the office of the homosexual bishop when he/she/whatever has to explain why he/she/whatever turned down a request from those nice polyamorous three-way…four-way?  five-way?  six-way?  seven-way?  eight-way?  nine-way?–etc?…folks to have their “relationship” blessed.

Solomon and all that.  It’s in the Bible, you know.

KEEP OFF THE GRASS!!

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 19 Comments

You know, I’d make a joke here about Bishop Empty Coke Bottle resigning as the head of TEO’s communications office to accept a position as bishop coadjutor with the Anglican Episcopal Church of Bolivia except that it wouldn’t be funny since Bolivia’s just granted “rights” to…well…pretty much everything:

Bolivia is set to pass the world’s first laws granting all nature equal rights to humans. The Law of Mother Earth, now agreed by politicians and grassroots social groups, redefines the country’s rich mineral deposits as “blessings” and is expected to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry.

What sorts of rights does nature now have?

The country, which has been pilloried by the US and Britain in the UN climate talks for demanding steep carbon emission cuts, will establish 11 new rights for nature. They include: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.

So much for Darwin.  And that road that village of poverty-stricken Bolivian peasants desperately needs may have to be put on hold for a while.

Controversially, it will also enshrine the right of nature “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities”.

What’s motivating all this?  One guess.

The law, which is part of a complete restructuring of the Bolivian legal system following a change of constitution in 2009, has been heavily influenced by a resurgent indigenous Andean spiritual world view which places the environment and the earth deity known as the Pachamama at the centre of all life. Humans are considered equal to all other entities.

Who didn’t see that coming?  By the way, be sure read the comments at the end of the article because lots of really stupid Western people think this is a nifty idea.  Meanwhile, the Bolivians would like to take this blithering idiocy international.

Bolivia will this month table a draft United Nations treaty giving “Mother Earth” the same rights as humans — having just passed a domestic law that does the same for bugs, trees and all other natural things in the South American country.

The bid aims to have the UN recognize the Earth as a living entity that humans have sought to “dominate and exploit” — to the point that the “well-being and existence of many beings” is now threatened. 

The wording may yet evolve, but the general structure is meant to mirror Bolivia’s Law of the Rights of Mother Earth, which Bolivian President Evo Morales enacted in January. 

That document speaks of the country’s natural resources as “blessings,” and grants the Earth a series of specific rights that include rights to life, water and clean air; the right to repair livelihoods affected by human activities; and the right to be free from pollution.

It also establishes a Ministry of Mother Earth, and provides the planet with an ombudsman whose job is to hear nature’s complaints as voiced by activist and other groups, including the state.

While I certainly wouldn’t be averse to plowing under the UN headquarters in Manhattan and planting rutabagas, I don’t see this going anywhere for much the same reason that I don’t see those guys in that “Dear Woman” video ever converting most other men in the world to their ridiculously pathetic world view.  It goes something like this:

APPLE:  You can’t eat me!!  I’m a part of Mother Nature!!  I’ve got rights!!  You’re in a lot of trouble for picking me off my tree, mister.  The United Nations declared…

ME:  CHOMP!!

If you think you’re going to convince me to reduce my living standard to 12-century Great Britain just so the hydrangeas can feel good about themselves, bring a lot of money with you when you try to talk me into it.  Because I plan to steal all of it, push you into the mud and laugh at you. 

On the other hand, while this stupidity will never go mainstream, it does have an upside.  The Episcopalians, for example, would have another opportunity for a repentance show, something they always enjoy.  And this celebrated footage now makes a lot more sense:

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