Archive for September, 2011

FACING THE MUSIC

Friday, September 30th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 65 Comments

Let’s be honest.  The most serious problem those of us in the West have with Islam is not the fact that some of its adherents flew airplanes into big buildings and murdered 3,000 people.  Islam’s most serious problem is this:

For the first time in 20 years, the Islamic Republic of Iran has issued a formal death sentence for a Christian. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, leader of the Church of Iran denomination in Rasht, was arrested in October 2009 while seeking to register his church. He has been on death row since being found guilty of apostasy, conversion from Islam, in September 2010.

Pastor Nadarkhani’s appeal came to a conclusion on Wednesday, September 28. Iran’s Supreme Court had refused to overturn his death sentence, referring his case back to local judges in Rasht to decide whether Nadarkhani had been a practising Muslim before converting to Christianity, something which Nadarkhani denied. Judges in Rasht ruled that although Nadarkhani had not been a practising Muslim, his Islamic heritage made him guilty of apostasy.

Although apostasy does not carry a formal death penalty under Iran’s penal code, judges in Rasht were able to use the supremacy of Islamic jurisprudence in Iran’s constitution to sue for the death sentence based on religious fatwas, or Islamic rulings, by leading Ayatollahs.

Let’s be equally honest.  In Islam, this is not a particularly radical view.  So until such time as the Islamic world understands this and works to change it, it will continue to receieve the scorn of thinking people.

And richly deserve it.

CATHEDRAL, SCHMATHEDRAL

Friday, September 30th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 32 Comments

Nope, nothing wrong with the Episcopal Organization these days.  Another Episcopal cathedral bites the dust:

The Cathedral Church of St. John, a grand old granite church at 10 Concord Ave. that was started in Wilmington more than 150 years ago by Alexis Irenee du Pont and others, will close in July.

The decision was announced last Sunday following worship. This week, a letter was mailed to the cathedral’s 120 members.

“We have fought long and hard and have done everything possible to continue our worshipping congregation here at St. John’s, but reality says it is time to close,” wardens Tom Angell and Deborah Layton wrote in the letter.

It’s a decision that was not entirely a surprise, in that only special bequests have kept the church going, given that money from the congregation has fallen short each month by several thousand dollars.

Hoping to turn around the situation, church members asked different governing bodies within the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware for five years of funding. Angell says those having a say included Bishop Wayne Wright, the diocese council and the standing committee overseeing buildings.

The request was rejected. Cathedral members were told that supporting the congregation for such an extended time would end diocese programs already in place. The diocese has offered to make up any shortfall needed to see the cathedral through to July, according to the letter to parishioners.

Robbie?  Do all them gays and progressives that are just over the horizon need rides or directions or what?  Because the jack’s getting a little low around here, dude.  Just sayin’.

In the meantime, you could make an ass-kicking tapas bar out of the place.  I have to figure that Wilmington, DE doesn’t have too many of those.

TRENDING

Thursday, September 29th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 28 Comments

First we had Tom Friedman waxing enthusiastic about Communist China.  Next we had North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue “joking” that we ought to “delay” congressional elections in order to get the people’s business done.  Now we can add Peter Orszag, the former director of the Office of Management and Budget, to that list of people who think that maybe this whole “democracy” thing has gone too far:

In an 1814 letter to John Taylor, John Adams wrote that “there never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” That may read today like an overstatement, but it is certainly true that our democracy finds itself facing a deep challenge: During my recent stint in the Obama administration as director of the Office of Management and Budget, it was clear to me that the country’s political polarization was growing worse—harming Washington’s ability to do the basic, necessary work of governing. If you need confirmation of this, look no further than the recent debt-limit debacle, which clearly showed that we are becoming two nations governed by a single Congress—and that paralyzing gridlock is the result.

So what to do? To solve the serious problems facing our country, we need to minimize the harm from legislative inertia by relying more on automatic policies and depoliticized commissions for certain policy decisions. In other words, radical as it sounds, we need to counter the gridlock of our political institutions by making them a bit less democratic.

I know that such ideas carry risks. And I have arrived at these proposals reluctantly: They come more from frustration than from inspiration. But we need to confront the fact that a polarized, gridlocked government is doing real harm to our country. And we have to find some way around it.

Facing this problem is crucially important because our current legislative gridlock is making it increasingly difficult for lawmakers to tackle the issues that are central to our country’s future—issues like climate change, the hard slog of recovering from a financial slump, and our long-term fiscal gap. It is clear to everyone that a failure to act will lead to undesirable outcomes in these areas. But polarization means that little action is possible. This is why I believe that we need to jettison the Civics 101 fairy tale about pure representative democracy and instead begin to build a new set of rules and institutions that would make legislative inertia less detrimental to our nation’s long-term health.

As the debt-limit experience vividly illustrated, by polarizing ourselves, we are making our country more ungovernable—and no one has come up with a practical proposal to deal with the consequences. I wish it were not necessary to devise processes to circumvent legislative gridlock, but polarization isn’t going away. John Adams may have been exaggerating when he pessimistically noted that democracies tend to commit suicide, yet, as we are seeing, certain aspects of representative government can end up posing serious problems. And so, we might be a healthier democracy if we were a slightly less democratic one.

Good luck with that, Pete.  Try to reinstitute “government by elites who are way smarter than you so keep your stupid mouths shut” and I guarantee that you will see another American Revolution.  And this one will shake the whole world to its foundations.

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 33 Comments

You know how we could really help the country solve its problems, asks North Carolina Democratic Governor Bev Perdue?  If we delay these election things for a while:

File this in the random-things-politicians-say file. Speaking to a Cary Rotary Club today, N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue suggested suspending Congressional elections for two years so that Congress can focus on economic recovery and not the next election.

“I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover. I really hope that someone can agree with me on that,” Perdue said. “You want people who don’t worry about the next election.”

Oh come on now, said Perdue’s office.  She was talking to the Rotary Club and she probably had a few.  She was obviously joking so lighten up.

Later Tuesday afternoon, Perdue’s office clarified the remarks: ”Come on,” said spokeswoman Chris Mackey in a statement. “Gov. Perdue was obviously using hyperbole to highlight what we can all agree is a serious problem: Washington politicians who focus on their own election instead of what’s best for the people they serve.”

Problem is that there’s audio of her speech and she doesn’t sound like she’s joking.  But are people making too much of this?  Probably.  My sanity demands that I don’t think the American left is anywhere near that stupid.

I honestly think that most liberals realize that if a serious proposal were ever made to suspend a regular American election, for whatever reason, the floodgates would open, the Tea Party would become a genuine revolutionary movement and the United States as the American left has traditionally perceived it would be changed out of all recognition.

Canada and Europe would probably receive a host of new English-speaking immigrants.  That would suck for them, I guess, but would greatly clarify matters down here.

So I tend to think that the Governor probably had an adult beverage or two and let her tongue get away from her.  And that’s about as seriously as I intend to take this.

THAT MANY THINGS

Monday, September 26th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 32 Comments

Having full reference to one consent may work contrariously.  For different reasons, Jim Naughton and I have basically come to the same conclusion:

We’ve decided to forego posting items that serve more or less exclusively to give folks who are sympathetic to our pro-LGBT point of view the chance to say negative things about folks who are opposed to that point of view. We don’t expect people to stop making critical comments, and we don’t intend to refrain from criticizing what we consider to be destructive points of view, but some of the arguments in Anglican land are so well rehearsed that they are no longer worth having unless there is something immediately at stake.

Since we’ve heard all the arguments dozens of times, there’s no point in endlessly repeating them over and over so the only thing left for principled western conservative Anglicans to do is to walk away and begin again.

Continuing to exchange the same insults over and over will achieve nothing and is not going to change anyone’s mind.

Do the liberals want the “official” Canterbury connection?  Let them have it; it’s not worth fighting over.  Your average Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Christian gets through the day just fine without being “officially recognized” by Rowan Williams or any other holder of his increasingly worthless office.

As Jim notes, if matters need to be commented upon,  I’ll get to them.  But that’s kind of why there has been and will be increasingly less and less Anglican coverage around here.  Because there’s really no point in plowing the same ground again and again and again.

POCKET COWBOYS

Monday, September 26th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 10 Comments

I don’t know how tight with the Chinese government this guy is but it’s good news if he’s right:

“Of course we understand that Iran aims to acquire nuclear weapons and we are concerned about this,” said Prof. Yin Gang. “While it declares that its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes, the Chinese government and intelligence services believe that Iran wants to build a nuclear bomb.” This clear statement was made by an independent Chinese expert on the Middle East who recently visited Israel at the invitation of Signal, an organization that furthers academic ties between Israel and China.

Like Russia, China has refused to join the United States and other Western countries in imposing new, tighter sanctions on Iran in response to the latter’s refusal to obey UN Security Council resolutions demanding that it cease uranium enrichment. But on the other hand, China did vote for weaker sanctions against the ayatollahs’ regime. China purchases oil from Iran, but has refused to build nuclear reactors there or sell it equipment for its nuclear program.

Nevertheless, Ying views China’s policy on the Middle East in general, and Iran in particular, as clear and consistent. “It is a policy based on our philosophy of refraining from taking sides in conflicts,” he said. “We try to remain neutral in the Middle East conflict. In the past, during the Cold War, we sided with the Arabs against Israel. But this has changed. Today we see ourselves as friends of Israel, and at the same time we attempt to maintain friendly relations with all countries. We are friends of Israel and the Turks and the Iranians and the Arabs.”

In his estimation, “China cannot do much to influence developments in the region. We do not export revolution and we do not support democratic movements. We need oil for our economy, and for that we need a stable Middle East. Only when there is peace will oil flow.”

To prove his claim that China acts responsibly in the international arena, he cited the way relations between China and Iran have developed over the years. In 1993, the two countries signed an agreement under which China would sell Iran two relatively small nuclear reactors for producing electricity. But two years later, Russia offered it a larger reactor, whose construction in Bushehr has just been completed and is now being connected to Iran’s national grid.

“Only then, in 1995, did America and Israel begin to understand that Iran’s nuclear program would also allow it to produce nuclear weapons,” Yin said. “Washington exerted heavy pressure on us, and we decided to cancel all our nuclear agreements with Iran. The Iranians were angry and imposed various embargoes on us, accusing us of caving in to American and Zionist pressure.”

I LOVE THE WHOLE WORLD

Monday, September 26th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 11 Comments

It’s people I can’t stand:

According to the company’s proposal to join a United Nations clean-air program, the settlers living in this area left in a “peaceful” and “voluntary” manner.

People here remember it quite differently.

“I heard people being beaten, so I ran outside,” said Emmanuel Cyicyima, 33. “The houses were being burnt down.”

Other villagers described gun-toting soldiers and an 8-year-old child burning to death when his home was set ablaze by security officers.

“They said if we hesitated they would shoot us,” said William Bakeshisha, adding that he hid in his coffee plantation, watching his house burn down. “Smoke and fire.”

According to a report released by the aid group Oxfam on Wednesday, more than 20,000 people say they were evicted from their homes here in recent years to make way for a tree plantation run by a British forestry company, emblematic of a global scramble for arable land.

Was this some kind of tribal thing?  Was some tribe trying to make money from foreigners and didn’t care what other locals they hurt?  No, this was way more important than that.

But in this case, the government and the company said the settlers were illegal and evicted for a good cause: to protect the environment and help fight global warming.

The case twists around an emerging multibillion-dollar market trading carbon-credits under the Kyoto Protocol, which contains mechanisms for outsourcing environmental protection to developing nations.

John(who’s getting perilously close to a free coffee mug)?  You’re up.

The company involved, New Forests Company, grows forests in African countries with the purpose of selling credits from the carbon-dioxide its trees soak up to polluters abroad. Its investors include the World Bank, through its private investment arm, and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, HSBC.

In 2005, the Ugandan government granted New Forests a 50-year license to grow pine and eucalyptus forests in three districts, and the company has applied to the United Nations to trade under the mechanism. The company expects that it could earn up to $1.8 million a year.

And when the fate of the whole world is involved, what’s throwing a few more Africans into penury and hardship?  We have to consider the big picture here.

But there was just one problem: people were living on the land where the company wanted to plant trees. Indeed, they had been there a while.

“He was a policeman for King George,” Mr. Bakeshisha said of his father, who served with British forces during World War II in Egypt.

Mr. Bakeshisha, 51, said he was given land in Namwasa forest in Mubende district in 1997 by a local kingdom through his father’s serviceman association. Mr. Bakeshisha lived happily on the property for years, becoming a local administrator and ardent supporter of President Yoweri Museveni. In a neighboring district, people had been living on land the company would later license since the 1970s.

Tensions brewed. The company and government said the residents were living illegally in a forest. Residents said they had rights. Community members took the company to court in 2009 and a temporary injunction was issued, barring evictions. Nevertheless, Oxfam and residents say, evictions continued.

I don’t pretend to understand the morality of all this.  But then, I’m not Al Gore.

JOHNSON’S FIRST LAW

Sunday, September 25th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 83 Comments

It is a humbling and sobering thing for anyone to discover a fundamental law of the universe, never mind some punkass little blogger from Missouri.  For the benefit of those of you who are new here, Johnson’s First Law of Episcopal Thermodynamics runs as follows: every joke you make about the Episcopal Organization eventually comes true.

I’ve quipped here a time or two that ex-Episcopalians, no matter how long they’d been away, would eventually be hit up for money by their old pseudo-ecclesial body.  Back pledges with interest, that kind of stuff.  Funny idea?  Actually, thanks to Phil Ashey, it is no longer amusing at all.  And your host is officially scared to death:

I’d like to share with you a letter from the Bishop and Diocesan Council of The Episcopal Church’s (TEC) Diocese of the Rio Grande. But first, a little background so that you can appreciate the letter in all its fullness.

This time two years ago, approximately 80% of the parishioners of St. Mark’s on-the-Mesa (TEC) left the parish and formed Christ the King Anglican, Albuquerque, NM (Anglican Church in North America). When those parishioners left the parish, the Diocese of the Rio Grande, and the Episcopal Church, they left everything. They left the property, building, endowments, bank accounts – even paperclips and pencils. They did so in good conscience, with generosity, and with love for those who in good conscience could not leave The Episcopal Church. Based on their reading of scripture, these parishioners did not want to fight over buildings and property in civil courts. Instead, they walked away and began a new life together as Anglican followers of Jesus Christ at Christ the King Anglican Church. Not only did the new parish draw former Episcopalians, but also Christians from other denominations who wanted to worship and serve at Christ the King Anglican.

So the other day, Christ the King gets this letter.

August 31, 2011
Dear Father Weber,

RE: St. Mark’s on the Mesa, Albuquerque
Fair Share Obligation, Third Quarter 2009

I pray that this finds you well in the Lord! Summer is always such a gift in the ministry, a time for reflection, refreshment and anticipation for the end of the liturgical year.

On July 12 of this year, the Diocesan Council had a meeting here a [sic] Diocesan House. At that time, a group from St. Mark’s-on-the-Mesa, Albuquerque came before the Council to request forgiveness for their Fair Share obligation from the third quarter of 2009. As I am sure you are well aware, it was during this time that a good number of the clergy and congregation at St. Mark’s-on-the-Mesa left to form a new congregation, leaving the remaining members with quite a financial and emotional burden to carry. What follows is the motion as it was amended and passed that afternoon.

Motion, that the -$25,000 Fair Share obligation for St. Mark’s on-the-Mesa, Albuquerque for the third quarter of 2009 be forgiven. Moved and seconded to amend the motion by replacing it with the following: that the -$25,000 Fair Share obligation for St. Mark’s-on-the-Mesa, Albuquerque for the third quarter of 2009 be adjusted to $5,000 and that the Diocesan Council write a pastoral letter to the leadership of Christ the King Anglican Church appealing to them to cover $20,000 of the original Fair Share obligation for St. Mark’s on-the-Mesa, Albuquerque for the third quarter of 2009.

The amendment passed. The amended motion passed.

As you can see, it was the decision of Council to hold St. Mark’s-on-the-Mesa responsible for the entire Fair Share payment for the third quarter in 2009, requesting that the burden be split between the members that left and the members that stayed, dividing the responsibility roughly along the lines of how the congregation self-selected.

I would ask that you would prayerfully consider accepting the responsibility of paying the portion of the Fair Share that was required by the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande.

I have lots of reactions to this story, the kindest of which is probably “Are you effing kidding me?!!“  Phil Ashey is absolutely flabbergasted.

The people who left St. Mark’s-on-the-Mesa willingly surrendered their property. They literally turned the other cheek. In response, the Diocese of the Rio Grande basically said, “we have all your stuff now, but we think you owe us more.”

We are not very far from Wonderland and Alice who cried “Curiouser and curiouser!” Apparently, the Bishop and the Diocesan Council felt that their decision, memorialized in their minutes, was of at least sufficient moral authority to cite in the letter, to persuade Fr. Weber and the Anglicans of Christ the King to accept their “responsibility.” Note to Bishop and Diocesan Council: it may come as a surprise to you, but Fr. Weber, the clergy and people who formed Christ the King Anglican have moved on. They are not coming back. They really meant what they said. And when the bishop addresses them as if he were the lord of the manor, the diocesan council his advisors, and these departed Anglicans as if they were permanently indentured serfs…it doesn’t go over very well.

For years we have been hearing the mantra from TEC’s legal team that “people can leave, but churches cannot.” But now it turns out that TEC bishops and leaders don’t actually believe their own justification for suing departing Anglicans! Even when people walk away for conscience sake, they are “indebted” for God-only-knows-what-and-how long to TEC. And never mind that supporting an organization they left is a violation of their conscience. These Anglicans are still obligated; it is “their responsibility.”

Why not send the same letter to Albuquerque Catholics?  It’s their own fault for not seeing the genius that is American Anglicanism.  Hell, send one to the Archbishop of Canterbury; he could lop off a cathedral or two and instantly raise that kind of scratch. 

And as long as you’re hitting up non-Episcopalians for money, you might as well ask the Pope.  Hell, 20 grrr is chump change to Benedict XVI.  He could probably find that in the Vatican sofa cushions.

But Christ the King could have a little fun with this if they wanted to.  Sure, we can raise the jack, they could tell the Rio Grande.  Subject to a few minor conditions.

What kinds of conditions?

Nothing much.  The Diocese of the Rio Grande has to pass a resolution which states that homosexual practice is incompatible with Holy Scripture and that open homosexual ministers are never to be licensed in the Diocese.  The Diocese has to formally withdraw from TEO and join ACNA.  And the Diocese has to officially recognize Bob Duncan as the Anglice Primate of North America.

Do all that and we’ll have your kaysh on the way day after tomorrow.

AND NOW…IDIOTS

Saturday, September 24th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 18 Comments

It is never appropriate to invoke the name of Jesus to support your pet political cause.  Ever.  Except, says Carl Medearis, when your pet political cause is really, really important.   Like the Middle East, for example:

This week at the United Nations, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has promised to ask for recognition of a Palestinian state. If he does, the United States will veto. Why?

Largely because of something we’ll call Christian Zionism, an American theological movement that preaches a Christian obligation to help Jews reclaim the biblical Promised Land.

As the Palestinians press ahead in their bid for statehood, prepare to hear from this crowd. These Christians number in the tens of millions and they go into a state of frenzy every time a politician so much as winks at the idea of Israel giving up a few settlements or withdrawing to pre-1967 borders.

They’ll tell you their concern has nothing to do with their particular interpretation of the Bible and everything to do with America and Israel’s national security interests.

Don’t believe a word of it.

Oh.  Okay.  Those of us who support Israel because it’s the right thing to do or because the Jews have the greatest historical claim on that place or just out of a simple sense of gratitude to the Jews for preserving the Word of God throughout the centuries and, well, basically writing most of our Bible for us are obviously lying to ourselves.  REALLY nice of you to point this out, Carl, because I never would have known if you hadn’t.

Christian Zionists believe that when God told Abraham 4,000 years ago, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you” he was making a promise that extends to the modern state of Israel. Any nation that “curses” Israel will face God’s judgment.

When you hear some Christian politicians say, “The land belongs to Israel”, what they’re really saying is if America blesses Israel – that is, if it gives uncritical support to the Jewish state – God will bless America. If America curses Israel, God will curse America.

Because that’s sort of…you know…what it says?  Carl, have you read Numbers or not or…

One of the reasons Jesus was crucified was because of his refusal to embrace a nationalist agenda. But Christian Zionism blesses military action by the modern state of Israel, under the banner of “national security,” including the demolition of Palestinian homes to pave the way for new settlements.

“One of the reasons Jesus was crucified was because of his refusal to embrace a nationalist agenda.”  Really, Carl?  I don’t know where in the Bible you’re getting that but I’ll take your word for it. 

That being the case, it seems like it wouldn’t matter to Our Lord and Savior if “Palestinian”(a concept that effectively dates from 1967 when this writer was 11 going on 12) homes are demolished at all what with Him not embracing a nationalist agenda and not having any place to lay His head while He was on Earth and all that.

So how would Jesus vote this week if he had a seat at the U.N.?

Surely love, compassion, justice and peace-making would top his lists of concerns for all involved. Maybe he would give a new parable – the Parable of the Good Palestinian – offending all who would hear.

Since you just got done saying that Our Lord didn’t have a nationalist agenda, what exactly are you trying to say here, Carl?

Rather than allowing obscure Old Testament promises to dictate our foreign policy, what if we stuck to the clear commands of God – love your neighbor, your enemy and the foreigner in your midst – which appear in Exodus, Leviticus and three of the four gospels.

Many Christians in America think of Jews and Christians as “us” and anything that sounds Muslim or Arab as “the other.” But the call of Jesus is to be more loving towards the “other” than towards the people we think of as “us.”

Not quite sure where you’re getting that one, Carl.  Last I checked, we’re supposed to love everybody; God is no respecter of persons, as Peter put it.  But it’s tough to find anyone in the comfortable West who will grieve very long over those unfortunate Israelis who survived the grievous crime of taking mass transit one morning.

It’s true that there are elements of Palestinian society that do not want peace, no matter the price. They need to be isolated and dealt with.

You mean these people?  The ones who cheered for Saddam Hussein twice and who celebrated when 3,000 people died on September 11, 2001?

And this, of course, would be the same “people” who chose the mother of seven people who murdered or attempted to murder Israelis to deliver the “Palestinian” desire for “statehood” to the UN.  Yeah, well, the Israelis have their extremists too, you know!

The same goes for elements of Israeli society that don’t want peace. The good news is that extremists are a minority on both sides of the conflict.

Have any of those Israeli “extremists” actually, you know, killed anybody, Carl?  As soon as they do, get back to me, tough guy.

Mad props to Damian.

SEPPUKU

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 | Uncategorized | 20 Comments

It’s kind of impressive watching a lying sleazebag like Joe McGinnis commit career suicide.

UPDATE: More here.

YO, BUFFY

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 | Uncategorized | 21 Comments

Put up or shut up, tough guy:

The GOP is making a concerted effort to pressure billionaire investment guru Warren Buffett to release his tax returns to the public.

Republicans say Buffett — the public face of Obama’s proposed “Buffett rule” to increase taxes on the wealthy — needs to reveal his finances if his views on tax rates are going to serve as the basis for Obama administration policy.

“Will Warren Buffett release his tax returns so we can see why he should be the standard for tax policy?” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) questioned in a tweet Thursday.

“If he’s going to be the gold standard, so to speak, in terms of what our tax policy should be, yeah, let’s look at it [his tax returns],” Cornyn told ABC News.

Buffett’s ties to the administration don’t end with the tax plan. He is also helping the president fundraise for his reelection campaign and has become a vocal champion of the administration’s deficit-reduction goals.

HEAD?

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 17 Comments

I believe you’ve met Desk:

Dr Rowan Williams argued it has become difficult for the Church to convey its message because of the popularity of non-believers such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.

He said attempts to reverse the decline in worshippers had begun but that there will be “no quick fix”.

He continued: “I’m not avoiding the point that the coolness of atheism is very much in evidence. The problem is it’s become a bit of a vicious circle. Atheism is cool, so books about atheism are cool.

“They get a high profile, and books that say Richard Dawkins is wrong don’t get the same kind of publicity because atheism is the new cool thing.

“It’s difficult to break into that, but plenty of people are trying.”

“One of the things we’ve been trying to do in the last seven or eight years is find a strategy that says we as a church can’t just wait for people to turn up for us – we ought to be going to where they are.”

I don’t know.  Maybe you could try PREACHING THE FREAKING…aw, skip it.  Pearls before swine and all that.

REALITY CHECK

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Intelligent people figured this out a long time ago so I have four words for those deluded people who ignorantly prattle on about so-called “two-state solutions” in the Middle East.  Wake the hell up:

Palestinian refugees will not become citizens of a new Palestinian state, according to Palestine’s ambassador to Lebanon.

From behind a desk topped by a miniature model of Palestine’s hoped-for blue United Nations chair, Ambassador Abdullah Abdullah spoke to The Daily Star Wednesday about Palestine’s upcoming bid for U.N. statehood.

The ambassador unequivocally says that Palestinian refugees would not become citizens of the sought for U.N.-recognized Palestinian state, an issue that has been much discussed. “They are Palestinians, that’s their identity,” he says. “But … they are not automatically citizens.”

This would not only apply to refugees in countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and Jordan or the other 132 countries where Abdullah says Palestinians reside. Abdullah said that “even Palestinian refugees who are living in [refugee camps] inside the [Palestinian] state, they are still refugees. They will not be considered citizens.”

Abdullah said that the new Palestinian state would “absolutely not” be issuing Palestinian passports to refugees.

Money quote.

The right of return that Abdullah says is to be negotiated would not only apply to those Palestinians whose origins are within the 1967 borders of the state, he adds. “The state is the 1967 borders, but the refugees are not only from the 1967 borders. The refugees are from all over Palestine. When we have a state accepted as a member of the United Nations, this is not the end of the conflict. This is not a solution to the conflict. This is only a new framework that will change the rules of the game.”

Thanks to Katherine.

NOT AS I DO

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 41 Comments

The Episcopal bishops have just issued what they call a “pastoral teaching” on the environment.  These selections are typical of its bumper sticker level of banality:

The mounting urgency of our environmental crisis challenges us at this time to confess “our self-indulgent appetites and ways,” “our waste and pollution of God’s creation,” and “our lack of concern for those who come after us” (Ash Wednesday Liturgy, Book of Common Prayer, p. 268). It also challenges us to amend our lives and to work for environmental justice and for more environmentally sustainable practices.

Christians cannot be indifferent to global warming, pollution, natural resource depletion, species extinctions, and habitat destruction, all of which threaten life on our planet. Because so many of these threats are driven by greed, we must also actively seek to create more compassionate and sustainable economies that support the well-being of all God’s creation.

We are especially called to pay heed to the suffering of the earth. The Anglican Communion Environmental Network calls to mind the dire consequences our environment faces: “We know that . . . we are now demanding more than [the earth] is able to provide. Science confirms what we already know: our human footprint is changing the face of the earth and because we come from the earth, it is changing us too. We are engaged in the process of destroying our very being. If we cannot live in harmony with the earth, we will not live in harmony with one another.”

One of the most dangerous and daunting challenges we face is global climate change. This is, at least in part, a direct result of our burning of fossil fuels. Such human activities could raise worldwide average temperatures by three to eleven degrees Fahrenheit in this century. Rising average temperatures are already wreaking environmental havoc, and, if unchecked, portend devastating consequences for every aspect of life on earth.

The wealthier nations whose industries have exploited the environment, and who are now calling for developing nations to reduce their impact on the environment, seem to have forgotten that those who consume most of the world’s resources also have contributed the most pollution to the world’s rivers and oceans, have stripped the world’s forests of healing trees, have destroyed both numerous species and their habitats, and have added the most poison to the earth’s atmosphere. We cannot avoid the conclusion that our irresponsible industrial production and consumption-driven economy lie at the heart of the current environmental crisis.

Privileged Christians in our present global context need to move from a culture of consumerism to a culture of conservation and sharing. The challenge is to examine one’s own participation in ecologically destructive habits. Our churches must become places where we have honest debates about, and are encouraged to live into, more sustainable ways of living. God calls us to die to old ways of thinking and living and be raised to new life with renewed hearts and minds.

You get the idea..

I’m not going to discuss the scientific merits of this particular theory except to say this.  It is extremely difficult to believe that climate change is a crisis when people who claim climate change is a crisis don’t act like climate change is a crisis.

Remember, this “pastoral teaching” just came from a group of men and women who, along with their wives, husbands and significant others, flew thousands of miles in many different airplanes and pumped Gaia knows how much greenhouse gas in the atmosphere just to have a meeting.

Ecuador is a part of our church and we have to meet together.  Well, not to put too fine on it, but no, you pompous jackasses don’t.  Church Center is rich enough to set Ecuador up with the requisite equipment, train the folks there in its use and conduct this whole meeting as a five-day videoconference.

Besides, such a claim adds an entirely new layer of hypocrisy.  The bishops condemn “consumerism.”  But what is the difference between the bishops insisting that they simply must meet in the same place at the same time and me insisting that I need an iPad?

Easy, Johnson.  You’re just buying another gadget to play Angry Birds on while we bishops doing something vitally important.  Sez who?  And if you believe your own theory, why in the world are you willing to inflict great harm to the environment just to give some wealthy Episcopal liberals a five-day Third World poverty tour?

Get your stories straight, pointy hats.

One of the reasons we go to these places is to see where our church ministers.  You folks do know that really good digital camcorders are getting awfully cheap these days.  Why not buy 10 or 12, hook up some Ecuadorian Anglican Young PeopleTM with them, ask them to show you their country, good and bad, and incorporate their presentations into the week’s festivities?

Not only would Gaia thank you for it, but you’d be modelling the sort of behavior you’d like every other rich Westerner to adopt.  And even if we all just laughed at you, you’d be secure in the knowledge that at least you had done the right thing and been all prophetic and stuff because at the end of the day, that’s all Gaia can ask of anyone.

The point of all this is that if the Episcopal bishops want me to believe that we’re in a crisis, then the very first thing they should do is starting acting like we’re in a crisis.  Otherwise, I’ll consider them nothing more than posturing hypocrites.

BROWNSHIRTS

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 44 Comments

The Episcopal Organization gets its Nazi freak on:

The controversial trial of 10 Muslim students – arrested for heckling the Israeli ambassador during a campus speech last year at the University of California in Irvine – was coming to a close Sept. 19, but their supporters were just getting warmed up.

An overflow multiethnic, interfaith crowd packed an Orange County Superior Courtroom as attorneys on both sides began wrapping up their cases, citing free speech arguments. Prosecutors said the students had effectively censored Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren’s Feb. 8, 2010 speech; defense attorneys said their behavior amounted to normal student activism.

Dozens more in solidarity with the “Irvine 11″ but unable to find seats in the courtroom, filled the hallway outside, their hopes and prayers pinned on an eventual verdict in favor of the students’ right to express public dissent. Representatives of faith and secular organizations prepared for a second day of closing arguments Sept. 20 and said they believe prosecutors have targeted the students because they are Muslim.

The Rev. John Conrad, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Riverside, California, said it was gratifying “to see so many representatives of the various faiths coming together on the common ground of truth and justice and liberty. It’s redeeming. I pray the jury is swayed to find them innocent.”

The kids just shouted down a Jew.  What’s so terrible about that?

Conrad, a member of the Bishop’s Commission on the Middle East in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, was in the courtroom for morning closing statements Sept. 19 by Deputy District Attorney Dan Wagner. “The truth of the matter is, this isn’t an issue for Muslims, or Christians, or Jews. It’s an issue for people,” he said during a gathering of media representatives afterwards.

“It’s an issue about justice, about people who are oppressed and who have no voice.

The bastards had a voice one particular evening.

It’s a tremendous travesty

Prosecuting somebody for censoring a Jew.  What’s the world coming to?

and it [this case] will cool and chill dissent in this area,

Dissent, of course, meaning screaming Jews off the stage and nothing else.

which is a sad, sad thing, and certainly not the American way.”

See below for what the “American way” has apparently degenerated into.

The trial has fueled anti-Muslim sentiment, said others, including the Rev. Wilfredo Benítez, rector of St. Anselm’s Episcopal Church in Garden Grove, California, who attended the court proceedings.

“This is a sad day in Orange County, that Muslim students should be persecuted for speaking their conscience,” Benítez said. “There’s an unspoken rule in this county and even in the nation that no one can be critical of Israel or they will be looked at as hostile. That’s part of what’s motivating this.”

Benny?  You can as critical of Israel in this country as you want to, you posturing jackass.  Just take your damn turn.  Being “critical of Israel” and screaming down the Israeli ambassador with brain-dead leftist bumper stickers are two totally different things.  One is the American way.  The other is fascist.  Guess which one’s which, Benny?

“As a Christian leader in the community, it’s important that I stand in solidarity with them [the students] as they exercise their constitutional rights to do that

To prevent other people from expressing their opinion?  Have you got a constitution I don’t know about, Benny?

and that I stand in solidarity with other religious leaders in support of this community that seems to be singled out in this instance.”

They were “singled out” because they were the only ones involved, moron, er Benny.  But do you see what I did there?  That was free speech, me calling you a moron.  Anyway, according to Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy, this is apparently is the “American way.”  These idiots planned this thing and knew precisely what they were doing.

The students came up with the following plan. They had been told that if they interrupted the speech, they would be arrested for disturbing a public event, so the students went sequentially, each interrupting the Ambassador once. Each student would stand up in the middle of the speech and start screaming out condemnation, which would trigger the wild applause of many other students in the audience. The student would then walk to the aisle to be arrested and escorted out by campus police. Once the Ambassador started again, the next student would go, resulting in a total of 10 interruptions to the speech and arrests of 11 students, 8 from UC Irvine and 3 from UC Riverside.

Conrad?  Benitez?  Treat a Muslim like this and people like you would be screaming bloody murder.  Do us all a favor and stick your “singled out” crap back where it originally came from.  It was Muslims who were censoring speech here and only Muslims.  Ambassador Oren was only trying to speak.  The Islamo-fascists were determined not to let him.

So man up and deal with it.  Unless being called an anti-Semite doesn’t bother you anymore.  If it ever did.

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