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Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

I haven’t read anything before about it, because quite frankly one does get tired of reading about sexual abuse and the Catholic Church. But this article is well worth a read as it describes just how fucked up the church is, and the existing pope.

And when you think about the Church’s ridiculous obsession with homosexuality and abortion, articles like these just make you scratch your head.

I have a hard time respecting any of the benefits such a church could possibly have when I read something like this.

The priest at the center of a German sexual-abuse scandal that has embroiled Pope Benedict XVI continued working with children for more than 30 years, even though a German court convicted him of molesting boys.

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Quote for the day

I can’t even grasp how wrong it is that a man who murders and feels no remorse for it can say without hesitation:

“It isn’t our duty to take life, it’s our heavenly father’s.”

Complete self-delusion.

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The Party of Assholes

I am loath to blog about the worst of the worst wingnuts like Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Lynn Cheney and Glenn Beck. I mean what’s the point? Their assholeishness is hardly something so subtle that it needs a blogger (let alone thousands of them) to point out.

Nonetheless what is truly disgusting lately is the glee with which these assholes seem to treat human tragedy. Can there be any doubt after the attempted bombing of an airliner on Christmas Day how much these jerks want a terrorist attack to happen? They treated the attempt as a Christmas Day present to themselves and their ideology. They jumped right away with how Obama couldn’t keep us safe and launched a coordinated effort of historical revision regarding attacks during the Bush presidency. One wonders how much more excited they would be if this guy succeeded?

And now we have a human tragedy of catestrophic proportions. A poor country that has suffered for so many years gets kicked while it is already down with a natural disaster. And how do these guys react? What compassion do these “saviors of family values” give us? You have to know that Pat Robertson woke up to the news excited that God had finally put the nail in the coffin of this heretic country. And how about Limbaugh? Don’t give any money in aid to Haiti because we already do that through income tax. It’s not enough that you are an asshole Limbaugh, you have to try to influence others to behave like you.

What is there to say to all this? I apologize for this rant but these guys are truly evil. How else to explain their utter joy at so much tragedy around us.

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The Year of the Flood

I just finished Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood. I was surprised after I began reading it to find that it is a companion piece to Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and it includes many of the same characters and the same events only from different perspectives.

Honestly, I think Oryx and Crake is a much better book. The plot is tight whereas The Year of the Flood is really all over the place with a lot of magical coincidence (I just made that up).

One particular aspect about the book interested me quite a bit. In Oryx and Crake, we see a character try to create a perfect species. In The Year of the Flood, there is the attempt to create a perfect religion.

Atwood is taking this religion on the road with her oddly enough. The songs she wrote for the book are performed on tour by a choir. She also mentions in her acknowledgments that she has celebrated one of the feast days of the religion with her partner.

It is funny isn’t it that religion can be consciously created? You can will yourself into a new religion. I remember once when I was taking Classics in college my professor mentioned a man who had tried to adopt Greek mythology as his religion. He celebrated the right events and prayed to the appropriate gods based on what he wanted to accomplish. He found that he actually started to believe and would instinctively call out to certain gods without even thinking about it.

In The Year of the Flood a character does not believe in the religion that she is a member of, yet she continues the ritual despite that. By the end of the book we have indications that on some level she believes, and there are some events that could be construed as miracles which prove her religion.

Perhaps all religions begin this way.

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Two short observations

Pat Robertson on NPR speaking about Oral Roberts’ 1987 plea to his supporters that they donate money to his church or God would kill him:

It was unseemly. We all have a mole or a wart somewhere in our lives.

What do you mean it was unseemly? He said God told him that he was going to kill him if he didn’t raise the money. Are you insinuating that Oral Roberts was lying? Is it so common for televangelists to lie that you can use that word unseemly instead?

Second observation of the day.

A new provision being rolled into the unified House health care bill would allow young adults to stay on their parents’ health care plans until they turn 27, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Tuesday.

I think it says a lot about the state of this country’s health insurance problems that reform involves infantilizing adults in order to get them covered. And how classist is this anyway? This is a big benefit for upper middle class families who sent their kids off to college when their kids have not yet found work that includes benefits. Baristas anyone? What about poor 27 year olds? Chances are their parents don’t have insurance either. What a bunch of crap. Full disclosure: I was on my parents’ insurance until I was 23 years old.

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With all of this talk about someone forging a Kenyan birth certificate for Obama, I was reminded of a fascinating article I read many years ago in the Guardian.

Mark Hofman was a really good forger. He conducted careful research and he chose his victims well. They were people who bought the forgeries because they wanted to believe they were real. Or in the case of the Mormon Church, the church wanted to destroy “real” documents which contradicted existing Mormon Orthodox. They made their purchases to destroy the documents. Here is an excerpt. The whole article is a great read.

The man he was describing is no ordinary murderer. Poetry and literature were the accomplices in his crimes; parchment and ink the tools of his trade. His name is Mark Hofmann and, until he was incarcerated, he was America’s greatest literary forger: a man who combined obsessive historical research, extraordinary craftsmanship and an unerring instinct for what his customers wanted. Two years ago, one of those forgeries, a masterfully-executed poem by the much-loved American poet Emily Dickinson, who died in 1886, turned up at Sotheby’s, New York, where it was sold for $21,000 to the Jones Library, in Dickinson’s home town, Amherst, Massachusetts.

“I thought: this is just extraordinary,” says Daniel Lombardo, the former curator of special collections at the Jones Library, recalling the moment when he first saw the poem in Sotheby’s catalogue for its June 1997 auction of fine books and manuscripts. “A complete poem, not a fragment of a poem. In my recollection, it had been decades since a poem came up this way.”

And part two is here.

Update: It occurred to me that an excerpt of the Mormon bit of the article might stir some interest.

Forging coins had taught him two lessons: that things have no intrinsic value, and that people will believe what they want to believe. The Church of the Latter Day Saints was the perfect victim. Since its beginnings, in 1863, it has been a religion in search of authentication. The hundreds of thousands of dollars-worth of documents that Hofmann sold to the church were faith-promoting documents of the highest order. They included the earliest known Mormon artefact – a letter from the mother of the church’s founder, Joseph Smith – and the last: a letter written by Smith from jail just before he was murdered.

Hofmann’s real intention, however, was to destroy the faith he despised. Like a virus planted in a computer, he began to feed the Church of Latter Day Saints with documents that called into question some of the fundamental tenets of the faith. His most famous forgery came to be known as The White Salamander Letter. In it, Hofmann portrayed the Mormon church’s prophet, Joseph Smith, as a money-grubbing gold prospector who dabbled in black magic. Instead of angelic inspiration, he invented a diabolic, talking lizard. The Mormon Church bought the document for $250,000, and locked it away so that no one would see it.

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Today we hear another case of random yet targeted violence in the shooting at the Holocaust Museum in D.C. Random, because the perpetrator didn’t know the museum security guard who he killed. But targeted, because the perpetrator, a white supremacist, chose to kill someone at a museum which documents the genocide of millions of Jews during World War II.

And once again I am reminded of the poem “The Hangman” by Maurice Ogden. In the poem the hangman comes to town and at first he hangs a man from outside the town. The town breathes a sigh of relief. But the next day the hangman hangs someone from the town. Then another and another. Sometimes the hangman comes up with justifications like calling one of his victims an infidel. At the end there is no one left to save the narrator of the poem when he too is chosen by the hangman for death.

Should you worry about these crazy right-wing radicals who if not directly responsible for the violence are at least lending moral and financial support to the ones who are. If Operation Rescue were a Muslim charity, their accounts would have been seized a while ago.

Should you worry?

I’m not an abortion provider you might say. I’m not a Jew. I’m not gay. I’m not a black man running for president of the United States. I’m not a Latina woman nominated for the Supreme Court. I don’t need to worry.

Well you should.

Who was killed? A security guard who was just doing his job. Think of Naveed Haq who permanently wounded a 23-year old receptionist at the Jewish Federation in Seattle. Layla Bush was not Jewish. She too just needed a job. John Lotter and Marvin Thomas Nissen, in order to enact revenge on transsexual Brandon Teena, also killed 24-year-old Lisa Lambert and 19-year-old Phillip DeVine. Gay city supervisor Harvey Milk was shot along with mayor George Moscone.

You should care. You should really care.

THE HANGMAN

By Maurice Ogden

Into our town the hangman came,
smelling of gold and blood and flame.
He paced our bricks with a different air,
and built his frame on the courthouse square.

(more…)

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