Saturday, June 8, 2013
One of the things I've noted over and over again is that Christian fundamentalists are so often hypocritical. That could be due to the fact that most of them are biblical illiterates even though they profess to love and trust the Good Book.
Consider the example of prayer in public schools. Quite often Christianists of various stripes decide that prayer in public schools or other public places is of vital importance for the well-being of the country. God won't bless the good ol' U.S. of A. unless people are pleading to him on a regular basis in public places. And the biggest reason we have so many problems in this country, such as the Boston bombing, is that we've taken God out of the public sphere.
Ironically, neither prayer nor God have been taken out of the public sphere nor have they been removed from the public schools. A student in any public school in our country can pray to God at any time he or she so desires. The only qualification is that, because we are a secular country and we are committed Consitutionally to the separation of church and state, one cannot pray publicly to one's deity at a gathering which includes people of all religions or no religion. One cannot hold an entire student body hostage to a sectarian prayer uttered every morning over the sound system, although I know schools that try to do that!
The hypocrisy comes in here. It is clear from a reading of the Gospel stories in the New Testament that the Jesus figure was adamantly against any form of hypocrisy. He castigated some of the religious leaders of his time for their attention to religious detail while forgetting to live out their religion in daily life. Thus, Jesus noted that those who passed by the beggar, Lazarus, at the gate, will meet a miserable fate in the underworld no matter how "righteous" they pretended to be.
Jesus knew the human propensity for pretention. He knew how some religious leaders liked to stand in the market place and pray loudly so that all could hear and congratulate them on their piety. Jesus said, very emphatically, they have their reward and it's not going to be pretty.
Rather than engage in such hypocrisy, Jesus behooved his followers to pray to God in secret. Go into a closet. Get away from the crowd. Don't flaunt your phony piety in public. You just make an ass of yourself. God knows you're not really as pious as you pretend and he demands action not words!
Roy Costner IV was this year's valedictorian at Liberty High School in South Carolina. He was to give a speech at the school's graduation ceremony. The school, in keeping with the U.S. Constitution, had previously banned sectarian prayers at such ceremonies, a move for which those in charge should be applauded.
Mr. Costner had other ideas. He wrote a speech and submitted it for approval. It met the approval of those in charge of the graduation ceremony. Unfortunately, when it came time for Mr. Costner to give his speech, he stood before the crowd, tore up his pre-approved speech, and proceeded to recite the Lord's Prayer.
For real Christians, this is blasphemy. For Mr. Costner, it was just another exercise in Christianist hypocrisy which often results from following the notion that when it comes to Jesus, "the ends justify the means."
Mr. Costner is a sorry example of what happens when ignorance prevails over human decency; when the need to propagate one's religious views takes precedence over the rules and the rights of others to be spared such propagation!
You're a liar and a fraud, Mr. Costner. But then, as Jesus said, you'll receive your reward and you probably won't like it!
Today I read about a four-year old accidentally shooting and killing his father in Arizona; about a crazed gunman who killed five and wounded a bunch more at Santa Monica College in California; about multiple gun deaths in Chicago over the weekend; about a bullet hole found near a baby's crib.
Then on TV, there was a story about a minor-league town in central Florida trying to entice at least five gun makers to relocate by renovating several properties to be gun manufacturing friendly.
These are just a few of the "gun" stories that have hit the news recently. Every day brings dozens of similar stories.
The NRA thinks that such incidents are insufficient. The NRA, serving as the mouthpiece and lobbyist for the gun manufacturers, wants everyone to own a gun. Some cities with semi-adult leaders agree and have gone so far as to make it a requirement that every resident own a gun.
The NRA is pleased. But not totally. Why, even Jesus would own a gun! Let's put guns in the hands of our school children, says the NRA. Let's let everyone carry a gun, everywhere! If everyone carries a gun, says the NRA, then the bad guys would be so threatened, they wouldn't shoot anyone anymore and there would be fewer gun deaths.
Oh, stop laughing. That's the argument!
The NRA is a sick organization run by a cadre of very sick persons. Thus it is understandable that they insist on putting a gun in the hand of every man, woman and child in the country.
What's frightening is that we have a Congress full of simpering idiots who promote the NRA's beliefs and desires because the NRA provides them with money to get elected and re-elected and they fear the wrath of the NRA if they cross the sickos.
When, I wonder, will the adults in this country stand up and say "Enough is enough!"? The 2nd Amendment does not and never did mean that everyone has a right to own a gun! The 2nd Amendment was to ensure that Americans had rifles to help defend the COUNTRY! It had to do with militias for national defense at a particular point in history, an historical point which no longer prevails. Today we have the Department of Defense to do the job for us!
Furthermore, even if someone is so dense as to believe that the 2nd Amendment guarantees the right of every person to be armed to the teeth, it is still true that none of our so-called "rights" are absolute. "Time makes ancient good uncouth," says the old hymn. The Constitution is a living document to be understood and interpreted in such a manner as to uphold the well-being of the Commonwealth. The authors of the Constitution understood that what worked at one time may become inappropriate at another time. Thus, it has been amended on numerous occasions. Not even the right to free speech is absolute. You can't yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater, for example.
Gun violence is epidemic. Can you imagine what would happen if our children went to school with guns hanging from their belts? Anyone who would suggest such a thing should be committed to a mental institution!
It's important, I suppose, to propose the usual, expected disclaimer: First, there may be instances where a weapon is needed for self-protection, such as an isolated area in the mountains which contains certain dangerous critters. And, yes, I think it's OK to own a weapon for hunting or target shooting. But, in reality, who the hell needs to hunt these days? And you can shoot at targets with BB guns which are a lot less lethal. Or throw itty bitty stones at targets if you find that you need target shooting to make you more of a man or woman!
Please, if you are a real, live adult with a modicum of common sense, stand up and demand that this nonsense stop. Demand that stringent and enforceable gun controls be put in place such as the following:
Every gun purchase requires a background check! Automatic weapons are banned. Nobody needs an automatic weapon. Large caliber pistols are banned. One gun per person and that person must be trained and licensed. (Hey, think of the jobs such a law would create!). No more gun shows! No more purchasing of weapons at pawn shops. Guns can be sold only by persons who themselves have gone through a background check and are licensed to sell weapons. No one under the age of 18 may own a gun!
I'm sure there are other controls which would be effective.
Finally, ensure that penalties for violating these gun laws are severe - felonies!
Let's hear it for the adults in this country who are willing to take on the NRA and its minions; who are willing to take a stand for what is right and good for the country.
The NFL's Baltimore Ravens were invited to visit the White House and hang out with the President. Matt Birk, called by some a "champ," by others a "chump," refused to go.
This football player (he's just a football player for God's sake!) essentially claimed he could not be in the presence of the president because the president is pro-abortion and he, a famous football player, is anti-abortion!
The president, said the chump, actually defended the funding of Planned Parenthood. Omigod, said the chump (which is reasonable as he doubtless thinks he has a pipeline to the deity), that's awful. How could anyone with his high moral standing be in the same room with such a despicable person as the president of the United States?
This bit of trivia shows, I think, how far we have fallen. The far-right goofballs and christianists have descended into a world of idiocy; a world where nothing matters except for their opinions; a world where scientific fact is shuffled off into the corner in favor of ancient mythologies; a world where if people disagree they cannot be in one another's presence because one disagreement nullifies their common humanity.
I mean, when you're right, you're right. Unless you're not right!
Now, Mr. Birk has every right to be not right. And he has a right to voice his non-right opinions - his religious prejudices. And he has a right not to meet with the president.
All of which says nothing about Mr. Obama, but it makes Mr. Birk look like a chump - a moron, for Mr. Birk has proudly joined the parade of nogoodniks helping to bring our country to its knees. I have little doubt he'll run for a seat in Congress just as soon as his body gets as battered as his brain and he can no longer beat up his cohorts on the gridiron.
And there he will join the ever-growing group of chumps that festoon those hallowed halls where they fester and infect the body politic until it grows too sick to function!
Thursday, June 6, 2013
The powers-that-be in the fair city of Ocala, located in the rolling hills of central Florida, are thinking about instituting a half-cent sales tax in order to raise enough money to build a baseball stadium to house a New York Yankees minor league team.
Isn't that wonderful?
Other powers-that-be have spent almost $200,000 of taxpayer funds to put "In God We Trust" on the county seal! And that, some think, is another really wonderful thing. But not all. Some of us think it is a monumental waste of money and totally unnecessary! Oh, yes, it's also unconstitutional in that it clearly suggests that the government favors Christianity over all other religions.
Back to the baseball stadium. Why in the name of all that's holy or profane, should a city have to finance a place to play baseball for a for-profit enterprise? And don't spout that old refrain about all the jobs such a deal would bring to the city. That's bull. It's going to cost a fortune and most times the teams get a cut of everything until they pull out leaving the hapless citizens holding the proverbial bag (empty, of course!).
If the New York Yankees, a team that is wallowing in money, needs a baseball stadium, tell them yes, provided they can find suitable property that is approved by the powers-that-be and they can put up the cash to build it and sustain it.
But don't give them a dime of taxpayer money!
Especially in light of the fact that the schools are letting several hundred teachers and aides go because there is no money to pay them and that our roads are being neglected because there's no money to fix them, and because the County Sheriff's department is bleeding from lack of funds...there are lots of things we need and perhaps a half-cent sales tax would help. A baseball stadium sure as hell isn't one of them!
There may be legitimate reasons for banning bikinis at beauty pageants. Some critics, for example, have argued that these skimpy outfits place too much emphasis on the physical and that other qualities of the contestants get short shrift.
This year, however, at the Miss World pageant being held in Indonesia, bikinis have been banned from the swimsuit competition in deference to the sensitivities of the Muslim population.
That's what is being reported by FAUX News.
Assuming this is true, I'd like to suggest that the Miss World pageant move the contest to another country where Muslims are not in the majority and where it matters not whether their sensitivities are battered.
Perhaps Miss World could come to the United States. We need the money such a contest would engender and we like half-naked girls and we don't give a damn if a religious group's sensitivities
At least that's what I would like to think.