Posts Tagged ‘Religion

30
May
09

Christian Guilt

If you have read my blog, you know my answer.

But the WordPress Dashboard let me to a stellar post today, “Losing my religion. Why I recently walked away from Christianity” by the BEattitude. It is always  refreshing to read accounts of new non-believers. And, man, did the blog’s attention generate quite a bit of discussion. I had to engage, as you would well expect – and can see my comments by CNTRL-Fing “Political Mpressions.” My comments aren’t that great or original, but I just couln’t help myself.

The comment BEattitude made, however, that really struck a chord with me was the pronouncement of a great weight having been lifted off his shoulders upon leaving the religion. Another blogger, Leaving Religion, commented on the guilt they felt while a Christian.

Not all Christian, or religious, experiences are alike – but, I have to say that these two comments expressed results of Christianity I felt quite clearly as well. Upon decided, once and for all, that I did not believe that Christ was my lord and savior or that the Bible was divine in any way, the guilt that I didn’t know I had even been harboring all those years evaporated. It felt wonderful to be out from under such a dark cloud.

What guilt? The guilt from not reading my bible enough, proselytizing enough, guilt if I cussed, watched a rated R movie, didn’t treat my body like a vessel, had lustful thoughts, disrespected my parent, missed church, didn’t pray before a meal. You name it and it makes you feel guilty if you don’t do it or if you do do it depending on the sin or naughty deed.

So many things that are natural human behavior are wrong in Christianity, and most organized religions. That’s how religions operate: by control. If a religious leader can convince you that various normal behaviors are intolerable and you believe this, it is easier for this religion to maintain its dominance because it weakens the tendency for independent judgment and independent thought. If a group adheres to a strict code of conduct, it make the group more intact and less likely to have defectors than if everyone in the group is able to do what they want willy-nilly. Control the mind and judgment, and you control the people.

It was the most wonderful, liberating experience of my life to denounce Christianity, rivaled only by a small few life-changing experiences I’ve had the privilege to undergo.

One last thought, if you don’t have the inclination to read many of the comments beneath BEattitude’s post, I’ll give you a taste of a common theme among Christian responses: many of them feel or think that because BEattitude turned away from Christianity, he:

  • Never knew God, in the first place.
  • Was never truly Christian in the first place. “Wasn’t a real Christian before.”

As a former Christian, I find these comments abhorrent and unseemly. It is very typical of Christians (the vast majority of whom are quite un-Christlike) to judge how Christian or Christlike another is. Everyone’s relationship with religion is different. Simply because someone turned away from the faith does not mean they were not as “good” a Christian as another. No one is in a position to judge anyway.

Christians like to tell themselves that non-believers do not know Christ or God like they do. This a false notion, merely used for comforting purposes. We have known what they know, felt what they felt, witnessed the “miracles” they witnessed and prayed like they prayed. We believed. Yes, we have turned away because we have chosen to make decisions based on evidence and reality.

All these accusations against former Christians merely reveals the threat present Christians feel when coming into contact with one who has rejected what they themselves believe.

Phew, I need a beer after all this god talk!

30
May
09

OK Congressman Enters Rehab – Big Whoop

This is not news. Here’s why:

**First off, let me issue a preliminary notice that I’m not belittling alcoholism or addiction. I’m way too big a fan of Intervention to shit on those cash cows.

But this guy, Repub Rep John Sullivan, is from Oklahoma. Because I had the misfortune of committing some heinous crime in a past life, the flying spaghetti monster decided to make me pay penance by sending my husband and I to live in Oklahoma City. We didn’t even make it two years. Yah, it ranked high on the severe suckage scale.

Anyhoo, what we noticed there is that over half the people you meet are reformed alcoholics. They drank way too much in college, did a stint in rehab and are now in some holier-than-thou club that celebrates each other in between church events. It’s crazy.

Oklahomans have a very dysfunctional relationship with alcohol, which results in labeling typical college-age boozing and binge drinking as alcoholism. Like most people, all these kids really needed to do was time to grow up, wait for the judgment area of the brain to finish developing and they’d be as close to the straight and narrow as they were going to get. The state overreacts to everything that might somehow contradict the teachings of baby jesus – some state lawmakers tried to prevent Richard Dawkins, renound athiest author, from speaking about evolution during the OU’s Darwin Week 2009.

Obviously, this GOP congressperson is older than college kids – but, still, in Oklahoma, being a recovered alcoholic is somehow a badge of honor in this bible belt beatdown state.

So, I have three reactions when I see reports that the GOP dude is entering Betty Ford: who cares? it isn’t even news. and it’s so dumb, i have to blog about it.

12
May
09

Miss California – A Perfect Christian Specimen

I haven’t wanted to post about the Miss California scandal because I haven’t thought it newsworthy. There are so many issues much more deserving of the spotlight – the Congressional deal regarding credit industry legislation, rape victims across the country have to pay for their own rape kits, Sen. Vitter was holding up Obama’s FEMA appointee until some effective opposition advertising ahead of his 2010 reelection attempt, and more.

Miss Cali Pre-Boob Job

Furthermore,the vast majority of Americans couldn’t care less about beauty pageants until a topless photo of one of the contestants emerges. And now we want to have an opinion over whether this girl should keep her crown? It’s ridiculous.

Sure, she’s hypocritical. Most (ahem, all. okay, not all) Christians are. It’s okay for them to be “imperfect,” yet they want the rest of us to abide by specific biblical doctrine of their choosing. The Bible says not to alter your body, yet Miss California convinced the Miss California Pageant organization to pay for her chest “enhancement.”

And that’s what Christians have to understand. Our boisterous opposition to them has less to do with their belief system and much more with their ubiquitous hypocrisy. Show me a Christian and I’ll show you a person who does not fully abide by Biblical tenants. They pick and choose. And good for them – it’s a ridiculous book impossible to follow. But, most Christians don’t allow for the rest of us to disavow it’s tenants as well. It’s a classic case of “do as I say, not as I do.”

I love you Jeezus!!

We’re not telling Christians to stop going to church and stop praying. And there are plenty of religious inclusions in government that violate church and state doctrine that we might disagree with, but don’t hugely protest. We’re not telling them how to live their lives. We’re simply telling them to get out of ours.

Miss California has every right to speak her mind without some pageant judge acting as though his testicles were in a vice. He shouldn’t have asked the question if he wasn’t prepared to witness an answer he doesn’t like with grace. This is the Miss USA Pageant, not The Birdcage.

I support Miss Cali keeping her crown – just as I support her getting titty implants or lip injections or fake tans  and posing topless and being as false and unchristlike as she wants. She’s a great example of a typical Christian. Perfect spokesperson for the group. Let her do her thing.

But let us do ours.

And, for the record, I thought I’d let everyone know that Miss USA is Kristen Dalton from North Carolina. Uh…Congrats.

08
Apr
09

Gay Marriage Update

What a freaking awesome time for progress! The Vermont Legislature overrode their dipshit governor’s veto of their bill to legalize gay marriage (and, Vermont, what’s the dealyo with electing such an ignoramus in the first place? I mean, I know I’m from Texas and haven’t a positive thing to say about our governor – but you’re VERMONT). And the Iowa State Supreme Court found that legislation defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman was unconstitutional:

A statute inconsistent with the Iowa Constitution must be declared void, even though it may be supported by strong and deep-seated traditional beliefs and popular opinion.

Civil libertarians around the country are as giddy as little girls  over these momentous occasions and what a bright spot they are after the resounding show of bigotry last November in California.

So, it was quite galling to watch a Mike Barnacle-hosted Hardball today on which Maggie Gallagher, of the National Organization for Marriage, issued the most ridiculous claims regarding the effects of gay marriage. First, allow me to post an ad NOM recently spent a cool 1.5 million bones to air in hopes that it would turn the tide of public sentiment against gay marriage:

Hello, McFly! Are you serious? Are you trying to dumb down the American people with this drivel?

One woman says she’s “afraid” of gay marriage. A man claims the gay marriagers want to bring the issue into their life. And another chick says her freedoms will be taken away.

And then Gallagher posited on Hardball that the bad thing about gay marriage is that our children will be taught they are wrong to hold on to their beliefs that gay marriage is wrong. And churches participating in legal adoptions will be unable to discriminate against same-sex couples. And churches in New Jersey that participate in the commercial real estate market by renting out space for marriages will have to rent them out for gay weddings.

If you are a regular reader, and even if you aren’t, you can imagine I have a few (more than, actually) choice words to answer these babblings of those…say it with me…on the WRONG side of history. It’s called progress. Look into it.

First of all, like most religioners, NOM is attacking gay marriage from the viewpoint that it will injure them somehow. They give little consideration to the feelings and rights of gay marriage. I have one question for them: WWJD, biotch? Their storied Jesus would have never allowed his opinions to dictate the lives of others. The Bible preaches FREE WILL. These people have a bastardized view of that which they hold up as their guide. Be kind. Think of others first. That’s what your Christ would do.

Secondly, NOM is trying to stir up fear and playing to the most base of human emotions to illicit a reactionary response rather than debate the issue on its merits. The Constitutions grants all Americans inalienable rights – including marriage. Negate that. Trying to scare people into a frenzy is no means to change society for the better or for the long term. It’s juvenile and, as we saw with the Bush administration, destined for failure.

Like the cute dude debating Gallagher said, if the churches want to participate in government-controlled activities, such as adoption and real estate, they should not complain when their religion-induced bigotry is called onto the mat and squashed like a fat mosquito. Gallagher kept complaining that those opposed to gay marriage are simply labeled as bigots and intimates their religious beliefs should not be labeled discriminatory.

Au contraire, ma soeur, religion has long served as the catalyst for bigoted, evil, discriminatory acts. It is the job – the duty – of those driving progress and propelling humanity forward to thwart those who would victimize others and then defend their actions with “religious ideology.” We no longer have room for such behavior in this society of free speech, widely available education and information.

I would encourage religioners to stop trying to keep everything the same. Change is inevitable. Progress will always tap you on the shoulder and show you the exit. Maybe not the nearest exit. But the eventual one.

And good riddance.

31
Mar
09

Atheist Billboards Going Up in DFW Area

I’m pretty pumped! Monday, the Coalition of Reason will unveiled two godless billboards along busy interstates in the DFW area:

godless-billboard

The Coalition of Reason has already launched the campaign, aimed at uniting non-believing groups, in Philadelphia and Denver.

I’m part of the leadership of the Fort Worth Free Thinkers and we are joining with the North Texas Church of Freethought, Metroplex Atheists, Dallas-Plano Atheists and more to form the DFW Coalition of Reason .

The reaction of the area will certainly be interesting as this is an obvious headquarters for Christocentric religiosity. You’d be surprised, however, to see how quickly our community of non-believers (athiests, agonstics, non-theists, rationalits, etc., etc.) is growing.

Certainly, I hope one of the results of this four-week media campaign is greater organization of non-believers so that our voice is heard amongst the cacophony of American diversity. For too long, we have allowed one specific lunatic fringe group to dominate politics and accepted culture in our society and that must stop. The pendulum is swinging away from those who would seek to imprison the rest of us with their beliefs. We will be the silent minority no more.

And speaking of minority, I’d like to remind everybody that religious unaffiliated is the fasted growing “religious” group in the U.S. Doesn’t that just give you a warm, cozy feeling inside?

If you’re in Texas and would like to find a group of non-believers in your area, visit this Texas Secular Network site for a list. Some groups are more stingently athiest and organized, but as for us Fort Worth Free Thinkers, we just like good beer and good conversation and rational thinking. Peace out.

24
Feb
09

Ted Haggard – A Whole Lotta Dirty

Ted Haggard’s latest coming out party was interesting to watch – not interesting enough to watch in its entirety, but I caught snippets. He recently did the media rounds to promote Alexandra Pelosi’s recent HBO Documentary of him, “The Trials of Ted Harrard.”

After catching snippets of Haggard and his wife on Larry King and Oprah, I decided to watch the film. This was also after a few people in my Free Thinker group of peeps said they saw the documentary and “felt sorry for him.” My husband and I were galled by such a notion, but I also though Mission Accomplished. That’s exactly what Ted was hoping the documentary would do – drum up sympathy. That and make him some money cause it looks like brother be broke.

Observations:

  • The man is clearly gay. I know the Christian community loves to say he would be suffering from “same sex attraction” which is so out of touch with reality, it makes me throw up a little in my mouth. He basically has a neon sign on his forehead, “HOMOSEXUAL,” and his life will continue to suck ass as long as he fights his true identity. But, hey – it’s a free country, so fight away Haggard; just try to do it off the boob tube, ya know?
  • In one of the interviews, he discusses working with helpers to fix his gayness affliction and reveals that a friend of his father’s had a relationship of a sexual nature with him when he was 7, but he didn’t think it was abusive (it did cause him to wet the bed until middle school, however). He only realized it was abusive after these helpers told him it was.
    • Now, let’s recap. The man is over 50, has been the spiritual leader of thousands upon thousands of people for two decades and doesn’t know right away that a sexual relationship with a child is abusive. Problem anyone? HUGE, huge problem. Does this mean that he has engaged in relationships of a sexual nature with children? He only recently discovered such activity was wrong… And what if church members came to him for counseling because of an occurrence of child molestation. This man was wholly unqualified to guide them or help them in any way and, in fact, may have taken advantage of the situation.
    • This is one of those after school special moments where the viewer learns that the church is not the best place for counseling or psychotherapy of any kind. These people are not trained, licensed or professional. (That goes for “alleged” domestic abuser Chris Brown who said he was seeking counseling from his pastor. I hope it’s not the pastor in Georgia who beat the shit out of his wife, said the Devil made him do it and leads the church still today. Christ, religioners can be dumb)
  • Haggard admitted the church was a business and noted that, now, he’s bad for business. Well, hallelujah, slap yo momma! Finally. Let’s acknowledge here that churches are for-profit institutions that make many, many of their leaders rich off the moneys many of their congregation cannot afford to give. These should be taxable institutions and not protected by an unconstitutional government endorsement of them through tax-free status.
  • The church agreed to a settlement with Haggard as long as he left Colorado (for at least a year, but I don’t know how long in total). So instead of telling the church to go fuck themselves and that he was going to stay in his house for the sake of his kids, he drags them from place to place while he tries to find a job,which is difficult – apparently a 50 year-old pastor with no other experience isn’t qualified for many things in the “secular” world. It seems that if baby jesus was so benevolent and all-giving, he would have sent an angel to give Pastor Ted solid employment. For some reason, baby jesus didn’t. Weird.
    In the meantime, the children he has still in their adolescence must go with the vagabond family from place to place with no stability while their father focuses on rectifying his “homosexual issues.” If it were me, I would have sold the house, told the church to suck it and put down roots somewhere else in Colorado or near family and focused on the kids. Of course, I’m not some crazy jesus freak. And where is the extended family in all this? Are there no siblings, no grandparents or aunts or uncles to help the same-sex afflicted douchebag, his Olympic in denial housewife and their offspring?
  • While leader of his church, Haggard claimed Christians have the best sex lives and that he and his wife have sex every day – then looked to a couple of men standing near them and asked them the frequency of their sex lives. One man said every day and the other, not to be out-penised, said twice a day. On Oprah, his wife gushed how wonderful their sex life was. Are we spotting a theme? Perhaps a preoccupation with sex? Even if Haggard did have sex every day, the man is a performer and was probably trying to look like the best heterosexual husband he could in the best way he knew how. Boning his wife and boning her a lot. When will people learn that frequency is not an indication of sexual health? And, in fact, the bragging about it (and probably lying about it) ad nauseam is very indicative of a sexual or psychological problem.
  • Do I feel sorry for Ted Haggard? hmmm. soul-searching…soul-searching…
    • Short answer: No.
    • Long answer: Hell-to-the-no, chaka khan! The man is a victim of his own creation. He founded that bloody church and grew it into a monstrosity until he could suckle at its teat and feel comfortable enough to have a drug habit and homosexual relationships on the side.(BTW, did his wife ever get tested for STDs? If your man – or woman – is messing around, for the love of pete, get tested!)
      Christians are a famously intolerable group of people – remember the Inquisition? – and this is what happens when one of them faces adversity. If you make them look bad….EXILE! It’s not what jesus would do, but it’s what a Christian would do. All that love your neighbor and enemy shite is just a big load. Haggard created a monster and then was eaten by it. There are carbon copies all over the country, sad to say, and none of them will learn lessons from Haggard’s tale. Cause he’s an icky aberration that has no reflection on them. If you look in the faces of jesus’ followers, will you see him looking back? Does a bear shit in the woods? Wait a minute! I mean, does a bear shit in the city? Wait – forget it.
17
Feb
09

Proof God Does Support Gay Marriage

Remember when Jerry Falwell said to Pat Robertson on The 700 Club, regarding 9/11,

But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say “you helped this happen.”?

And remember when John Hagee said regarding Katrina,

All hurricanes are acts of God because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that.?

Well, if large-scale catastrophes are the result of the God of Abraham’s wrath and California is now in an economic free-fall and nearly out of money, this must be retribution for the only recent atrocity the state has committed: approving a legal ban on gay marriage.

It’s so clear! If California wants to overcome this economic Armageddon, their voters must quickly approve the court-upheld Constitutional legality of gay-marriage. Then baby jesus will be happy.

**Might I also suggest altering the state congressional process by which a budget or increase in taxes requires a 2/3 vote? That shit is jacked up.

11
Feb
09

Gay Marriage: Can We Talk?

In this week’s edition of Newsweek’s “My Turn” column, Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, describes how sad he was at the sight of an angry confrontation between demonstrators on both sides of the Prop. 8 decision. Mouw, a supporter of Prop. 8, introduces his column by asserting that his opposition to gay marriage doesn’t make him a religious fundamentalist. He ends the column with a call for  a more gentler approach to the debate and asks Can we Talk?

As a heterosexual who strongly supports gay rights, I accept his invitation.

Firstly, yes. We can talk. In fact, the gay people have been talking gently and calmly about marriage rights for years. Where have you been? As gay people find themselves increasingly marginalized in American society, used as pawns with which politicians pander to religious fundamentalists, is it not absurd for them to finally raise their voice and say, No More!!? Gay people have exerted all efforts calm and boisterous to claim that which is theirs under the Constitution. And only now that the oppression has become palpable – reached levels measurable by dollars – you ask to talk, Mr. Mouw.

Where were you a decade or five years ago? Most likely ensconced in your theological universe, comforted in the surety of your doctrine while other Americans were fighting for the freedoms. Now that the situation has come to a head in your geographical area do you wish to calm those whose rights you actively snuff.

Calm conversation has offered no answers to the gay community. They are not some group of aberrant miscreants who can be talked out of their identity. They cannot be convinced as a people to forgo their Constitution rights simply because the majority choose to oppress them. Gentle conversation is a noble idea, but the reality is that people live and die amidst all this talking you are calling for. We can talk quietly until your jesus comes to claim you, but progress awaits and it is known to happen under mostly painful, dramatic circumstances. Gays have tried talking and reasonable interaction for decades to no avail. Years of existence under the boot of the “moral majority” have given way to anger – and demonstration and protest are some of the most American mediums of expression. That it makes you uncomfortable is inconsequential.

What I dislike about the approach you take in your column toward the discussion table is that you assume your opinion matters. “As my fellow citizens in a pluralistic society, gays and lesbians have a right to ask me what my sincerely held convictions mean for how they pursue their way of lives.” Why would they? Or, better yet, why should they?

A gay marriage should involve only the two who are engaged in the relationship. It does not involve you, your church, or your god. You should live your life the way you choose – and be glad that most of us would also fight for your right to practice your religion freely. But leave other people’s lives to them as they do yours and stop assuming that merely because you have a vote, you have a right to determine the legal boundaries of other people’s relationships. You are not in the equation. No one should even care what your convictions mean for a gay person’s pursuit of happiness.

Furthermore, your opinion is based on a book that calls for people to sacrifice quality decision-making based on evidence in order to believe in a jealous, petty god so that they might inherit some undefinable heaven. That that same god would doom all decent decision-makers to an eternal hell is an incalculably ridiculous notion. That this would be the foundation of your opinion renders your judgment irrational at best. Belief in a book of fairy tales and myths does not make for sound and reasoned decision. No matter how calmly you talk.

One of the biggest problems I have with Christians is that they assume their bible tells them to assert biblical rules to govern the rest of us. It does not. If Christians choose to use the bible as a template for their lives – and even the best cannot do so without “sinning” – that is their right. This does make them a religious fundamentalist, including you, Mr. Mouw.

The bible, however, does not dictate laws for those of us who do not adhere to belief in its divinity. Personally, I think it’s full of crack-pot, misogynist, unnatural, oppressive stories. I would never dream of attaching my “soul” to this ugly tome.

At the end of the day, Mr. Mouw, you are too late. Your chance for considerate – sympathetic? – and calm discussion has passed. I see from your picture you are old. And perhaps you will die content in your belief that a tenant of your fallible religion still holds legal dominance over a group of your fellow Americans. At 31, I will probably live to see this unconstitutional religious dominance broken – more likely sooner than later. What a party that will be!

Lastly, I would ask you what would your jesus do? I’ve read the stories and understand Christians claim to try to be christ-like. Would Jesus deny happiness to those who seek to privately better their lives – people who harm no others by establishing their own families as they freely see fit? I highly doubt it. If Christians cannot be christ-like, why should they expect the rest of us to be?

17
Jan
09

Bush Needs To Fight the Law and the Law Needs to Win

I hope a lot of things.

I hope Journey gets back together.

I hope my husband develops an unusual penchant for household chores.

I hope UT dominates March Madness.

However, I’m realistic about the likely outcome of all these lofty wishes.

One of the big hopes I have saved in my hidden inner chamber of possibility is that Obama is lying as he quells calls for him to focus any attention toward the prosecution of the Bush administration for any of the multitude of crimes committed over the last eight years.

Any Constitutional Law professor (a.k.a. Obama), any two-bit ambulance chaser, could spot the illegal maneuvering of Bush cronies in the areas of warrantless wiretapping, Dept. of Justice politicization, no-bid contracts in Iraq, and torture – to name a few. And I don’t know if it was illegal to shovel billions of dollars to contractors as our military and veterans struggle grossly underfunded, but it should be.

The Bush administration hired a bunch of smarty-pants followers of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and fall-in-line, kill-the-enemy NeoCons whose sole purpose was to lace together intricately fragile arguments claiming legality of their bold molestations of power.

It is clear in Bush’s repeated and insistent claims in his last few media appearances:

Bush’s Last Press Conference Jan. 12:

And then we start putting policy in place — legal policy in place to connect the dots.

To Brit Hume Jan. 12:

And so however I interpreted the Constitution, I kept in mind what the Constitution said, the legality of what my decisions were…

And I said, are these tools deemed to be legal. And so we got legal opinions before any decision was made…

And all I can tell the American people is we better have tools in place that are legal and that can help us protect the American people from an enemy that still exists…

Everything this administration did was — had a legal basis to it, otherwise we would not have done it.

To Larry King Jan. 13,

No. No. Everything we did was — you know, it had legal legal opinions behind it…

And I got legal opinions that said whatever we’re going to do is legal.

Doth he protest too much? Yes, I think he doth. If nothing else, his insistence makes him suspect. The last president I remember asserting incessantly that activities under his leadership were legal was Nixon. And we know how history judged him.

As I watch Obama tell Georgie-boy Stephenohcrapmynameislong,

“And obviously we’re going to be looking at past practices and I don’t believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.”

I just hope he is keeping his rhetoric bland and calm so the little Bushies don’t run around as as the clock ticks away destroying every document (which is illegal) having to do with every questionable transgression. They’d have to burn the house down and those librarians at Congress would be muy picante, if you know what I mean.

Obama will have hundreds if not thousands of employees at his disposal. I think a few should be allotted the quiet task of investigating the slanted activities of the worst commander-in-chief this country has known. Lest the next commanders-in-chief take a que that they do not have to justify their activities to the American people and their Constitution. That would be wrong.

Will he give us a few lower-level prosecutions to try and satiate the public outcry? Undoubtedly, there were so many crimes committed, that shouldn’t be too difficult. But an administration that would out a CIA agent, make the EPA a mortally hypocritical organization, and encourage the SEC to unbuckle the country’s seat belt as its economy veered over a cliff, certainly has much to answer for. Behind bars. And not in white collar, conjugal visit prison. I’m picturing a prison where you really need to keep an eye on your cornhole.

I wouldn’t call my urges for Bush administration prosecutions blood lust. I simply want justice after an 8-year period where that word was practically meaningless inside the walls of our Executive branch. I don’t believe in Bush’s lord and savior, but if he exists, I can’t imagine he would be anything but gravely disappointed by one of his most public followers and the one least like him.

One of the biggest proofs that Christianity is hooey is that its rules dictate Cheney would go to Heaven while I go to Hell. Well, that ain’t bloody happening. But please, before Cheney and his boss head anywhere, let them sit in front of a judge. And then behind bars. Lest history repeat itself.

08
Jan
09

Quick fire Political Mpressions – Hillary, Caroline and Warren

Now that my blog slackoff has ended, I offer belated quick fire reactions to a few recent political ripples of import:

Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State: Boo. Sure, she’ll do a fine job. But I am so over the Clintons. I’m over being over the Clintons. Go away already. I was hoping the mamma drama those two titanic egos unleash would ebb on outta here after the election. A girl can dream. If nothing else, Hill, please just keep the cackling and self-martyrdom to a minimum.

Caroline Kennedy (or Fran Drescher, for that matter) as Senator from NY: Go run for something. Anything. Mom’s Club, your Neighborhood Association, Citizens on Patrol. Anything. Then you can be considered for senator. Kennedy would probably do a great job – but that’s not the point. There are other candidates out there who have paid some trench warfare dues and deserve the shot and would also perform well. Kennedy should set her sites lower and marinate until Schumer has found a higher calling.

Rick Warren: Are you freaking kidding me?? Just after the blow of Prop. 8, Obama pours salt over gay pride. Yeah, yeah, I get how he’s all “let’s teach the world to sing.” But, this is about human rights oppression and the wealthy, obese, unchristlike Warren carries that banner with all the hate it entails. The decision was unnecessarily costly in political capital and humanly disappointing. It’s sad that I’ll have to start Obama’s inauguration by waving my middle finger at the TV during the invocation. Way to rain on the parade, B.

06
Jan
09

On The Blogging Road Again

I’m back, kids! My fingers must have been itching, because they readily retained the memorization of my WordPress password  – a good omen I suppose for my return to the ubiquitous blogosphere, my favorite cranny being the neighborhood of dark, naughty angry liberals. Yes, yes, I’ve been gone a while and most of those who know me personally and scanned my writings from time to time have asked, “When are you going to blog again??” Now.

For reals, yo – I was suffering from major blog fatigue. Last year’s election placed us in a historical battle to reclaim the good that The States once were. The stakes could not have been higher and we were literally at the brink of a national, knife-edged decision between a hopeless, abysmal rejection of progress and simple possibility. Every blog, every comment, every opinion and assertion felt not just like sharing my voice – but helping to wage an effort bigger than all of us to help put our country and the world right. Shut up, you cynics – you felt it, too!!

And we triumphed. We whooped some old white man, religioner, anti-intellectual ass! To me, it wasn’t sooooo much that we elected Obama (indeed there will be blogs a-plenty de moi criticizing, constructively, many of Obama’s decisions) – my savored elation had more to do with the rejection of McCain and his joke of a running mate, Palin. To have elected them would have wrought irreparable damage at home and abroad to the pursuit of an improved, tolerant and beneficial community most of us glass-half-fullers choose to foresee.

In those months and moments leading up to Obama taking Pennsylvania and claiming victory, I wrote blog after blog – read innumerable others, gorged on news sites of every persuasion and sought every uncaptured sprinkle of information in a quest to comfort my nervous inner prognosticator. Certainly, I was quite confident from 2007 the Democrats would take the election. The multiple stellar Democratic candidates had the edge on the best the Republicans had to offer – none of whom could satisfactorily unite the anti-intellectual evangelicals with the small government, fiscal conservatives.

But fear of the unknown resonated in my bones and it seemed the only way to quell my anxiety was to participate – to blog.

The blog, however, consumed me. No doubt this government major loves to produce political analysis. But I found myself bound to the blog in ways I had not imagined. Visitors to the site became like crack to me and I counstantly found myself refreshing my page to scan visitor numbers, what searched terms pointed visitors my direction and if any other bloggers linked to my site. The computer had become my pipe.

Everyday, I felt the need to blog. The call was constant and the obligation heavy – akin to laundry, if you will. If we want to change the world, we have to participate and this was my clarion call for the 2008 election. I am a creature of freedom, however, and the obligation to the blogoslavedriver made my enjoyment level wear thin. My ass was sore and my eyes stung from sitting in front of the computer for ungodly amounts of time. I looked at myself on Nov. 5 with jail pale from lack of sunlight. Oh – and finding out I had a hormone deficiency.

So, when the knockout punch was delivered Nov. 4 – the call to blog slackened and I turned to the freedom of days not being psycho, not checking every single one of my bookmarks, not commenting, not needing to find solace in reading blogs espousing views similar to my own, not having anything else to talk about but the election and painfully pretending to be interested in other topics of conversation when interacting with fans of McCain.

I understand I am not alone. Television news ratings are down, talk radio has lost listeners, blog readership has slackened. We all needed to take a collective sigh and wallow in the release of tension built by a two-year presidential election season and the possibility of Sarah “You Betcha” Palin being a heartbeat away from the 3 am phone call. We needed to lick the wounds inflicted by the hypocritical masses of religioners oppressing homosexuals and tarnishing the good name of our country.

While away, I have enjoyed my respite – full of Festivus poles, delicious holiday meals, ungodly amounts of alcohol consumption and a crazy-ass college bowl game series (wtf, Texas Tech and Alabama?!! At least my Longhorns squeezed out a victory against Ohio State. I almost had a MFing heart attack!! We seriously need a college football playoff system).

It’s time to get back on the horse. Riiiide the pony. We only have two weeks left of mistake-of-the-century Bush II – which is amazing and unbelievable and fanfuckingtastic. It’s going to be hard for Obama – he has a monumental task ahead of him and choices to make for which there are no right answers. He will make mistakes, already has actually, and we must respond by voicing our opinion. This is our country, too (remember that, gay-haters).

Bush and Cheney thought the presidency belonged to them and they were wrong and now leave their posts in shame. The presidency belongs to us and we must remind Obama of this as the bubble engulfs him and his position on the pedestal skews his perspective.

Needless to say, I’ve never been afraid to say what I think. Bottom line: I’m back, baby!

And now I’m going to log out so I don’t constantly check viewership numbers. What the hell was wrong with me??

02
Dec
08

Conscientious Consumerism

I am a huge believer in voting with dollars. Huge! Whether it’s buying environmentally safe products or not eating veal or going to doctors who belong to minority groups, I try to put my money where my loud mouth is. No, I’m not religious about it – I don’t always buy locally-grown produce or independently-brewed beer and I wouldn’t go to a doctor who left a scalpel in me just because she was Hispanic and female (though, all the Hispanic female doctors I have visited have been phenomenal).

It’s called conscientious consumerism – as opposed to the American phenomenon of conspicuous consumerism which feeds on the souls of impoverished children.

One of my main responsible spending projects is the support of non-religious free thinkers (atheists, agnostics,

hee hee

hee hee

spiritual boycotters of organized religion, etc.). Of course, there are only so many directions this moral compass points. Hell, I live in Fort Worth and there aren’t too many openly atheist businesses in town, despite all the roofers who have Christian fish on their yard signs. It was much easier to practice when I lived in Austin.

But every cent counts, right? So, I look for books written by non-believers, buy Simpsons dvds, am not unfamiliar with adult toy shops, try to see Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt movies despite my inability to take them seriously as actors anymore. I avoid businesses who use the Christian fish as their selling method, refuse to go within 15 feet of a Christian book store unless it’s to flash my boobs in their windows (kidding!), etc., etc. Twilight was written by a Mormon chick and while I salute her entrepreneurial spirit, I will not read her books or see the movie. And I’m making a much more concerted effort to keep funds from Scientology followers (you know who I’m talking about).

But, it’s hard, people! And I’m weak. I can’t help but find myself in the drive-thru at Chick-Fil-A now and again. And despite the fact that burger chain Fudruckers plays god-awful christian worship music on Sunday mornings (by request), I manage to chomp down on their wondrous meat and buns, wedge fries and heavenly processed jalapeno cheese sauce once a month (or more?) on a day that is not designated for rest for the majority of Americans. And, shhh, but I love the Chronicles of Narnia series.

The response to Propoboycott-oppressionsition 8, however, is making my life a lot easier. The publication of donor lists have helped galvanize a boycott against the business leaders who helped ensure the success of a religious political movement aimed at oppressing the rights of a specific group of Americans. I am more than happy to joint the effort to hand prejudiced business leaders some whoopass with each dollar I don’t spend supporting them. Cinemark Theaters, this means you.

What is surprising is that MANY of those that end up on the boycott lists are Mormon – not just any ole Christian felt called to donate in support of Prop. 8. It is mind-boggling how many of the donors supporting Prop. 8 live in Utah. It seems there was a concerted effort within the church walls to push parishioners to spread hate. Sure, their church leaders have routinely practiced pedophilia and suppression of women, but how dare gays have the right to marry! What imbeciles. Needless to say, I’m not planning any trips to Utah any time soon.

Though I don’t live in California, I do pay attention to the movements supporting gay marriage – many of which lists monetary supporters of Proposition 8. For instance, Californians Against Hate has a great website, giving me many more businesses upon which to focus my responsible consumerism: A-1 Self Storage, Washington Mutual, Templeton Funds, Marriott, like I said – Cinemark Theaters. Mormonsstoleourrights.com lists the ways in which the Mormon Church has worked to oppress gays and also posts a petition viewers can sign advocating the loss of tax-exempt status for churches who are politically involved.

Boycotting is not a “bullying” tactic as many of the named donors are claiming. Religioners have their fun with boycotts all the time. And I fully support any American’s right to donate to causes they support. However, I have the right to refuse to patronize those with whom I disagree. Voting by the dollar is one of the most fundamentally democratic expressions we Americans have and a major producer of progress. I will never purchase anything produced by Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh or anyone else that spews hatred and vitriol. That’s my right.

And while I will suffer for my views (no more Franklin Covey planners…) it is important for me to practice what I preach and support efforts to expand good will to all people and oppose those who would oppress.

By the way – what an abismal shame that a dishonorable person like Saxby Chambliss could reach one of the highest offices in the land. What the hell, Georgia?! This man inhabits the bottom of the moral barrel and you would re-elect him?! What a disgrace.

28
Nov
08

Prohibition Against Gay Adoption Unconstitutional in Florida

Earlier this week, a judge in Miami deemed the law a violation of equal rights for children and their prospective homosexual parents, saying, “There is no rational basis to prohibit gay parents from adopting. It is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person’s ability to parent. A child in need of love, safety and stability does not first consider the sexual orientation of his parent. The exclusion causes some children to be deprived of a permanent placement with a family that is best suited to their needs.” The fight for gay adoption will undoubtedly continue to be waged in Florida courts before freedom is fully granted to gay couples – especially as the state just voted for a ban against gay marriage.heteros-for-homs

Wooohoooo! I’ve known many well-adjusted adults who were raised by gay parents and find it quite unAmerican and immoral that people would be the target of prejudice simply for their gay-orientation. Remember, if you choose to stomp on the rights of others, there will be no one to protect you when your rights are attacked. Gays are no different than anyone else (perhaps with the exception of heightened fashion sense) – an enlightenment continuing to spread across our progressive country.

Arkansas and Utah ban gay and single people from adopting/fostering and Mississippi bans gay couples, not gay singles, from adopting. Obviously, the majority of voters in these states fear change, are not Christlike in their intolerance and finding themselves the bassackward armpit of our wondrous land of the free (except for gays, cough, cough.)

Religion has no quarter in U.S. political or legal foundations. Ask any non-believer, atheist, agnostic or free-thinker if they would ban gay marriage or gay adoption and you would be hard-pressed to find an answer in the affirmative. Gay prejudice is of religious origin and without credibility and should be removed from government entirely. It is inappropriate to even have a proposition to decide the legality of gay marriage. Duh.

28
Nov
08

Sentenced to Be Blinded By Acid

I’ve never been a huge fan of the whole eye-for-an-eye punishment system.This is likely due to my position as comfortable American who sees the worst of the world through her television and computer monitor rather than addressing the eyes of the beast directly. Though there is a certain poetic justice in such a penal code, I generally refuse to condone it.

I do have one exception: Acid attacks.

Few far-away stories of violence rankle my sensitivities more than those of acid attacks – likely because most of them are directed towards woman and occur mainly in cultures that subjugate women. For instance, on Nov. 12, Taliban militants sprayed school girls in Afghanistan with acid using water pistols. I suppose eye-for-an-eye isn’t exactly what I’m picturing as appropriate retribution for this attack. “Anal” and “repeated” and other words I won’t use at this juncture more aptly describe the punishment I would render if I had my druthers.

And I must confess that I was pleasantly surprised when The Houston Chronicle revealed several Iranian newspapers reported yesterday that an Iranian court, following Islamic law, sentenced a man to blinded by acid for doing the same to woman he loved to prevent others from marrying her.

How horrific that this would make me smile – especially as it is religious law dictating such retribution and I am a rabid agnostic. However, in all the years I spent conducting international political analysis and regularly exploring news of the globe, I have never read of a man (or woman) facing the same fate after conducting or ordering an acid attack – which happens much, much  more than any of us cushy, isolated Americans would like to think.

Sure, it might be barbaric of me to have felt fuzzily warm inside when I read the HC article. But I think our own criminal system could use a makeover – caning, a very effective deterrent in Singapore, doesn’t seem too cruel and unusual to me. We simply cannot rehabilitate all those who choose to hinder the pursuit of happiness by others. Deterrence should be a much higher priority. And I’ll wager a bet that acid attacks would decrease if the requisite discipline would be by acid on the transgressor.

Last month in Somalia, Muslim radicals stoned a 13 year-old girl to death for adultery after having been raped by three men. Her sentence was carried out in front of 1,000 spectators. Eye-for-an-eye would be too good for the monsters who meted out such a perverted and inhuman abomination.

The artist forgot(?) to add women

Wasn’t it Gandhi who said “An eye for an eye and the whole world will go blind”? Certainly true in Iran.

24
Sep
08

Who Thinks Obama Is Going To Win The Sept. 26 Debate?

I’ve seen a lot of certitude from the Democrat side that Obama is going present USC-OU 2004 National Championship-style smackdown on McCain this Friday at the first presidential debate. And while if I were christian, I’d get on my knees every night till they bleed begging baby jesus for such an outcome.

But I don’t think it’s going to happen. And here’s why.

McCain has morphed into a desperate tall-tale-teller allowing his ambition to parasitically leach the soul from our once honorable and happier warrior. All that’s left is a shell of political expediency that clings to the life-force of a five-year POW who existed forty years ago.

Given the current situation of McCain’s character – or lack thereof – how many times do you think those of us watching will want to call bullshit Friday night? How many times do you think Romney tried to call bullshit during the primaries? Probably never. My experience with Mormons is that they don’t curse.

Still, the level of untruth perpertrated by McCain and his campaign has reached atmospheric levels. They wouldn’t know reality if it bitch-slapped them in the face and called them “man-whore.”

The worse part about it is not McCain’s lying – despite it’s unprecedented levels – it’s that the type of people who would vote for McCain do not care.

Jonathan Chait offers a compelling profile of McCain’s whoppers in today’s (LEFT-LEANING) The New Republican and I’ve pulled the significant paragraphs from his 6-page report. It’s long because McCain’s told a lot of lies. Here’s what I found extremely interesting from his piece, entitled, “Liar’s Poker” (bear with me – I know it’s a long – but it’s definitely worth the read):

Here we have the distilled essence of the McCain campaign’s ethos: Perception is reality. Facts don’t matter. McCain has presented himself as the grizzled champion of timeworn values. But the defining trait of his candidacy turns out to be a postmodern disdain for truth. How could McCain–a man widely regarded, not so long ago, as one of the country’s most honor-bound politicians, and therefore an unusually honest one–have descended to this ignominious low? Part of the answer is that McCain is simply doing what works–and there is good reason to believe that his campaign’s strategy of persistent dishonesty will pay dividends come November 4. But part of the explanation for all this recent dishonesty may lie, oddly enough, in McCain’s legendary sense of honor.

If this is McCain’s strategy, then a bunch of news reports debunking his claims isn’t going to hurt. Indeed it may even help. Last February, political scientists Brendan Nyhan of Duke and Jason Reifler of Georgia State published the results of an experiment designed to test the effects of political untruths. The results would unsettle any idealist. The first conclusion they found was that lies work. When subjects were confronted with an untrue political claim (President Bush banned stem-cell research; weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq) respondents naturally moved toward those positions. When the lie was corrected, however, the effect of the untruth in moving opinions largely remained. The truth, in other words, is no antidote for a lie.

Their second conclusion was even more disturbing. Subjects who identified as politically conservative were not only immune to the effects of having a lie corrected, the correction made them even more likely to believe a lie. So, for instance, one group of conservative subjects was presented with a news story that depicted President Bush claiming weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq. A second group of conservatives was presented with the same thing, along with a paragraph noting that Bush’s statement was untrue. The second group was more likely than the first to believe that Iraq possessed WMDs. The very fact of the press challenging their beliefs seems to have made conservatives more likely to embrace them. If this finding is broadly correct, then the media’s new found willingness to fact-check McCain will only succeed in rallying the GOP base to his side.

The pattern here is perfectly clear. McCain has contempt for anybody who stands between him and the presidency. McCain views himself as the ultimate patriot. He loves his country so much that he cannot let it fall into the hands of an unworthy rival. (They all turn out to be unworthy.) Viewed in this way, doing whatever it takes to win is not an act of selfishness but an act of patriotism. McCain tells lies every day and authorizes lying on his behalf, and he probably knows it. But I would guess–and, again, guessing is all we can do–that in his mind he is acting honorably. As he might put it, there is a bigger truth out there.

Main point: Conservatives who are told a lie, then told the truth, believe the lie more after they were told the truth! This means, people, that no matter how many times Barack says (with a hint of condescension), “Now, John, you know that’s just not true,” it won’t make a smidgen of difference. Even if Obama presents a coherent, thought-out, truthful rebuttal to McCain’s lies (“He wants to tax the American people,” “He was wrong on the surge,” “He doesn’t put country first,” “Palin has more experience.”), it will not make a difference in the belief conservatives have in McCain words. It truly is a sad commentary.

I must, however, point out that most of these conservatives are evangelical christians and believe the bible is fact, the Earth is 6,000 years old, all life came from the animals Noah could round up, Jesus rose from the dead and you have to believe in him – with no evidence – or their benevolent, all-loving god will send you down to the hellfires for eternity. Critical thinking isn’t their best attribute, to say the least.

I’m not sure how many of these conservatives will be watching Friday night, but seeing as how the main convention speeches drew around 40 million viewers, I’m thinking a lot will be tuned in. These people, however, would be in the bag for the Republican candidate even it was Elmo. I know, I know – there are loads of Dems who would vote for the Cookie Monster if he said he’d end the Iraq War. I get it.

While the debates will be a vital deciding factor in the outcome of the election, I think it will be harder to decide the victor. Palin has already won the VP’s go-round on Oct. 2. The bar is so low for her (perhaps the Devil is holding it up) and there are no rebuttal periods, which means than unless her boob pops out or she says, “I’m changing my mind and voting for Barack Obama,” she’s won. Actually, she’ll probably win big time if her boob pops out. Good luck, Joe B – try to chant, “I am not a political god. I am not a political god,” before heading on stage. That will probably help impede your gaffe-propensity.

What we can conclude here is that the arguments, facts, issues, policies, etc. presented during the debate will not determine the victor. The viewship will. The more informed and analytical the viewership, the more likely Obama will win. The opposite is true for McCain. I plan on watching.

17
Jun
08

Why Does Baby Jesus Hate Iowa?

Pat Robertson, referring to the 9/11 attacks said, “We have allowed rampant secularism and occult, et cetera, to be broadcast on television. We have permitted somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 to 40 million unborn babies to be slaughtered in our society. We have a Court that has essentially stuck its finger in God’s eye and said, ‘We’re going to legislate you out of the schools, we’re going to take your Commandments from off the courthouse steps in various states, we’re not going to let little children read the Commandments of God, we’re not going to let the Bible be read — no prayer in our schools.’ We have insulted God at the highest levels of our government. And, then we say ‘why does this happen?’ Well, why its happening is that God Almighty is lifting His protection from us.”

Jerry Falwell said to Pat Roberston on the 9/11 attacks, “And, I know that I’ll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say “you helped this happen.”

John Hagee said, in response to Hurricane Katrina, “All hurricanes are acts of God because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that.”

Okay. Big bad things happen to bad people. Gotcha.

iowa flood

My question is, why is god mad at Iowa? A very Christian state, I find it surprising that Iowa is experiencing record floods following a plague of tornadoes. Johnson County Emergency Management spokesman Mike Sullivan said, “This is our version of Katrina.” Psalm 148:7-8 says, “Praise the LORD from the earth, Sea monsters and all deeps; Fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word.”

So, Iowa, what’d you do? Perhaps Robertson and Hagee will speak up and give us some insight into this matter since they seem to be so insightful. Alas, Falwell cannot share with us his opinion cause he’s already with Baby Jesus.

Now Baby Jesus is mad. Mad at Iowa. But why?

A quick Google search offers up some ideas:

  • Ethanol subsidies (Huffpo comment by jsarets)
  • Giving Obama an early lead in the primaries (Google Groups)
  • Punishing the scouts for their homophobia (Yahoo India – have to click on the hidden answers)
  • Birthin’ up Tom Arnold (Craiglist comment)
  • It’s just the weather (Rachel Griffiths on Daily Kos)

I don’t think we’ll truly know the answer until one of the esteemed men of god who have such a direct connection with the almighty ask Him to give them the 411. You can email John Hagee Ministries here and ask him, like I did, why god hates Iowa and maybe that will help focus his discussions with god on this topic (you have to fill in your phone number and, fyi, 968-7825 translates into “you suck”).

In the meantime, let’s just hope that Baby Jesus sees fit to let those 36,000 naughty people back into their homes.

06
Jun
08

Hall of Shame: S.C. Approves “I Believe” License Plates

I make no bones about my disappointment with the rise in religious fundamentalism in this country and how detrimental such developments are, mostly having to do with failed abortion-only policies, the rise of anti-intellectualism, the accepting of intolerant and unconstitutional bans on gay marriage, and the promotion of power of men like George W. Bush, Pat Robertson, John Hagee and the late Jerry Falwell. Though, the rise in fundamentalism likely portends its downfall as progress is an unstoppable force, a law in South Carolina took effect yesterday that expresses the deep inability for many Americans to reconcile the brainwashing of their childhood with the reason and common sense their adulthoods.

South Carolina now offers “I Believe” license plates at $4 to $6.

i believe license plates

Such a license plate is an example of a governmental endorsement of a religion and a shameful illustration of the domination of unfounded mythology on our society.

Ask yourself whether the South Carolina state legislature would support a license plate expressing support of Islam, Judaism, Atheism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Scientology or Wicca. Right.

The ACLU and American Jewish Congress are considering action over this huge legal disappointment in South Carolina (which, by the way, failed in Florida in April). Here at politicalmpressions (which is just me), we wholemindedly support their efforts to have this state-sponsored endorsement of Christianity revoked.

Had this happened in Texas, I myself would raise my voice to its greatest heights to help preserve the separation of church and state.

Silver Lining: Marcus Aurelius points out in his comment on Think Progress, “It’s nice to know who the morons are when you’re out driving.”

Here We Go: June 19, Americans United for Separation of Church and Stateasks a judge to stop the state from making the plates and rule that the law allowing them violates the First Amendment.” For more, read here. Aaaahh, I love the smell of progress and common sense.

21
May
08

SHAMEFUL: 16 Percent of US Science Teachers Believe in Creationism

According to ABC news, 16 percent of U.S. science teachers believe human beings were created by a god in the last 10,000 years and one in eight teach creationism or intelligent design as a valid alternative to Darwin’s Origin of Species.

This correlates directly with my recent post of the rise of anti-intellectualism in the U.S.

What a ridiculous set of circumstances in which we have allowed fundamentalist religion to place our country. The lack of appreciation for math and science is largely due to the attack on science by christian leaders and churches across the U.S. It is shameful and is leading to the deterioration of the U.S. stronghold on technology and innovation. This, in turn, will lead to the further slowing of our economy and continued reduction in our influence globally. Can the rest of the world really take us seriously when so many Americans, including the president, take the bible so literally and as the irrefutable word of god and source on all relevant matters??

I reference Atheist Universe in which author David Mills asserts that creationism is in direct opposition to the scientific Law of Conservation of Mass-Energy. While there is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support creationism or intelligent design, there is in fact much evidence to dispute it.

There is also a mountain of historical and scientific evidence to refute the accuracy and truth of the bible. And yet, the ridiculous notion that it is a true text worthy of belief continues to permeate our society. Perhaps this can be attributed to the lack of reading, increase in video game play and television-watching by our children, or rise in the influence of religious leaders. We even had a serious presidential candidate this year who said we must bring the Constitution in line with the bible!

Make no mistake, unless we recognize that the privilege we have given christianity and other religions has led to the educational, and thus economic, downfall of this country, we will continue to see our global position deteriorate. Researches are scrambling to find out why our math and science scores are crumbling; until they look into the effect of religious fundamentalism on our educational system, I doubt they’ll find the true source of the corrosion.

Related articles:

U.S. Teens Trail Peers Around the World on Math-Science Test (Washpo, 12.5.07)

Study Compares States’ Math and Science Scores With Other Countries (NYT, 11.14.07)

Math/Science Education in a Global Age (InternationalED.org)

15
May
08

Anti-Intellectualism Syndrome and The Growing Smart Gap

The wealth gap in America isn’t the only growing dichotomy in our melting pot of various demographic slices. An intellectual gap is asserting itself in dangerous levels as these demographic slices form battling coalitions over differing priorities. While the Internet is a fascinating equalizer, providing information and education to those who seek it, the increasing vilification of education and intellectualism is alarming. And the 2008 Election, with its record-breaking participation, has brought illustrations of the growing smart gap to the forefront of mainstream media – even if the media doesn’t understand or acknowledge exactly what they’ve got their hands on.

The most recent example of the degradation of education in America is the difference in voter groups in the Democratic Primary. We are continuously reminded that educated Americans lean more toward Obama and blue-collar (they hardly ever say “uneducated”) voters side with Clinton. In an effort to celebrate these blue-collar Americans, the media and the candidates repeatedly refer to them as “hardworking Americans” – which should seem offensive to white-collar workers who undoubtedly work just as hard whether it’s in the operating room or on the trading floor.

Obama’s opponents readily reach for the “elitist” attack, however, simply because educated voters choose him more than any other candidate. How ridiculous. How backwards. How indicative of the anti-intellectualism that seems pervasive even in our most top levels of government.

It is not far-fetched to assume that educated voters are more informed, know more about current events, and are more familiar with the global effects of our national decisions and, thus, can apply critical analysis – even in the voting booth – better than their uneducated counterparts. This is not to say that a college-educated voter will always make a better decision than an uneducated voter. Intellectualism has more to do with the seeking of knowledge than the attaining of a piece of paper in the form of a degree. Smarter, more educated decisions, however, lead to a better – even longer – life and benefit not just the educated, but society as a whole.

Hillary Clinton began to solidify a political base as she began to pander to the uneducated, as Republicans do in most of their campaigns. In a fantastic blog entitled “In Defense of Being Educated” on The Huffington Post, Robert J. Elisberg writes that Hillary Clinton thinks she should be president because her voters are less educated than those of her opponent. He’s simplifying for effect, but the message is clear. The uneducated, potentially poorer-decision making voters who have always been courted by Republicans, are being celebrated and lauded. Yes, this may just be a political tool to get ahead, but the message it sends to America is a very dangerous one indeed.

I’m reminded of the 60 Minutes Report “All Eyes On Ohio” during which Kenny Schoenholtz, a worker at the Glatfelter paper factory (which was shutting down) told Steve Kroft about Obama, “Well, I’m hearin’ he doesn’t even know the National Anthem, you know. He wouldn’t use the Holy Bible. He’s got his own beliefs, got the Muslim beliefs. Couple issues that bothers me at heart.” Now, I don’t know anyone who saw that report and were not – too put it lightly- gobsmacked by the stupidity of such a person.

Now, that may seem a harsh judgment, but it is difficult to watch as voters just like Schoenholtz are routinely courted as the Holy Grail among voting blocs. He is the perfect constituent for Republicans or Clintons, who salivate at the opportunity to use unreasoned and illogical attacks. He is the audience for Willey Horton ads and Swiftboat campaigns. He is the voter to whom it will matter that Barack Obama’s middle name is Hussein. He is the voter who most likely voted for Bush a second time.

Why is he this type of voter? Because he is uneducated.

The pat-on-the-back for those who opted out of higher education or choose not to seek information and enlightenment will have grievous results beyond the quality of our elected leaders. With the diminishing appreciation of education – specifically science and math (largely due to religious fundamentalism) – the U.S. will continue to lose its stronghold as hegemonic power and falter economically, technologically and culturally. I recommend reading Susan Jacoby’s “The Dumbing of America” on The Washington Post for further statistics and examples of our rapid intellectual back-sliding. Jacoby has also recently written published “The Age of American Unreason“.

As the media and political parties request audience with uneducated voters using sugar-coated labels of importance, one must remember that lack of education and information encourage crime, teenage pregnancy, poverty, obesity, disease and more. Autocratic regimes and dictatorships prevent instruments of knowledge from reaching the masses as a tool with which to construct their oppressive governments.

I know many people who have not had access to a college education, yet are still very much intellectuals. The seeking of information, arming oneself with the ability to make enlightened decisions and the understanding of the importance of knowledge are all that is required to be intellectual.

As a nation, however, we glorify the rejecting of education to our own detriment.

There a fewer shames I can think of that the anti-intellectualism movement has produced than those presented by Nicholas D. Kristoff of The New York Times in his Op-Ed “With a Few More Brains…“:

“A 34-nation study found Americans less likely to believe in evolution than citizens of any of the countries polled except Turkey.

President Bush is also the only Western leader I know of who doesn’t believe in evolution, saying “the jury is still out.” No word on whether he believes in little green men.”

21
Apr
08

Reflective System vs. Automatic System

In the short time I’ve been plunged into adulthood (not maturity, mind you), I have observed with endless curiosity the different consciences with which my peers traverse the days and weeks that bring us ever closer to death. It seems as if some of us are more existential, pondering happiness and the meaning of life and various philosophies. We psychoanalyze our past and present, decision-making and those of our friends, acquaintances and family. We are constantly thinking and considering and struggling to find our most productive and positive place in the universe. It can be tiring and half the time I feel like a dog chasing its own tail.

Others are bit more shallow. And I’m not saying that as an insult; it’s simply the best descriptive adjective for the coasting along the status quo I’ve noticed in the lives of many of my peers. Many people simply find a job, get married, and have kids without ever a thought given to trailblazing or creating a masterpiece with this life they’ve been given. They do not question that with which they were raised: religion, fried foods, political parties.  Many do not move away from home or go to college or vote or ever engage in deep thought and discussion and debate.

I do not think I’m better than these people – merely different. It is just so interesting that some of us mentally and spiritually exist always questioning and analyzing and seeking. Others are content as is. It’s CRAZY, people!

And, what’s ever crazier, is the Freakonomics blog interviewing Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, authors of Nudge, Improving Decisions on Health, Wealth, and Happiness. My jaw nearly dropped when I read this question and answer section:

“Q: You write that human brains function either on their more deliberate and self-conscious Reflective System or their intuitive, rapid Automatic System (Homer Simpson), and that voters seem to primarily rely on the latter. (So much so that it’s possible to predict the outcome of elections by testing automatic responses.) Can you make any predictions about the presidential election based on which candidate has more “automatic appeal?”

A: We are betting on the guy from Illinois — the one who used to teach at the University of Chicago Law School. Admittedly, we might be biased, but we have seen first hand the way people immediately relate to him, and that should help.

Also, it is important not to push this evidence too far. Although initial impressions are important, certainly many voters do use their reflective systems to consider each of the candidates with care. We think the country is lucky to have three smart candidates who can give voters plenty to think about.”

Perhaps I’m reading into this text way too much or focusing on some obscure point, but I just feel so relieved that others have noticed the difference in people’s cognitive behavior and have even given it a term: Reflective System vs. Automatic System. I just wish I knew why some choose to reflection while others simply function without much ado.

Perhaps I’m being too reflective about Reflective System. More times than I’d like, I find myself wishing for a more Automatic life – but then would this existence be as flavorful? Would it matter at all? Would chocolate still taste as good?

No wonder I drink so much.




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