Friday, November 7, 2008

Christian Terrorists

Let's talk about the Christian Terrorists for a moment. They don't exist, you say? Christians are too nice and loving to ever be terrorists, because our religion is all about love, forgiveness, turning the other cheek and whatnot? That's just Wrong. What do you call someone who bombs a medical clinic whose practices they disagree with? A terrorist. What do you call someone who starts wars in the Middle East so they can get Armageddon started? A murderer, and let's remember folks, murder is still a deadly sin. What do you call someone who beats up and kills someone because they think their sexuality is a sin? A murderer. What do you call people who pass laws to prevent other people from committing what they perceive to be sins according to their religion? Well, in the old days, they probably would have been Pharisees. Is it Christ-like? No. What Would Jesus Do? Jesus would have hugged them, talked to them and told them about God, hoping to convert them. If he wasn't successful, he would have walked away. And guess what - that's the most effective way to bring someone to your religion. Give them a taste of the best of it, be kind to them, and if they don't convert right away, leave them be. Let the seed you have planted have time to take root. Give them time and space to reflect on their lives and how this new relationship with God might give them the hope, peace and guidance they need. Legislating morality and religion was the way of Romans and Greeks, not Christ.

Please, I beg of you, quit reading the letters of Paul and the Apostles. They're interesting and can tell you a great deal about the beginnings of the Christian religion, but they don't give you a guide for how to act toward each other. They are full of admonitions, rules and messages in code to the leaders of early churches on how to survive the political attacks on them. Early Christians were often imprisoned, enslaved and killed for their beliefs. They had to write to each other in code because their messages could easily be intercepted. Early Christians had to obey some of the standard culture they lived in, and let's remember, in early Greece and Rome, women were slightly more than slaves.

Here's my plea for rational, Christ-like vision: please remember that Paul was a converted Pharisee. Before his vision on the way to Damascus (I like the expression "his epileptic fit on the way to Damascus) he was a Pharisee who persecuted and killed Jews. After he converted, did his nature and habits completely change? No, obviously they did not. In his militant violence, was he being truly Christ-like or more of a powerful leader who successfully spread the new religion? The latter.

Here's the big question: Should we take our queues on morality, how to behave toward one another, from the Apostle Paul, or from Christ? The answer should be obvious.

READ THE GOSPELS. Read them a lot. Reflect on what is consistent and makes sense, because some of it is confusing. The messages to us from Christ's blameless life:

1. Do not covet wealth. If you have wealth, use it for good and get rid of as much excess as you can because it will corrupt you.
2. Do not commit violence against others. Do not beat, attack, hit or kill others. That includes Holy Wars, Inquisitions, Holocausts, domestic violence, rape, murder, bombing, incest, molesting children, beating up gays, blacks, Mexicans, women, children, people with blue hair, etc.
3. Respect your superiors. That means God, your parents and in most cases, your pastors. Pastors don't always deserve respect so you have to keep an eye on them. Are all parents good parents? No, sadly, it's clear that in the modern world, at least a quarter of parents are pretty lousy at it. Respecting them does not mean accepting their abuse and neglect. When we have parents like that, we must turn to God to be our parent until we can get away from the abuse, and if it's at the level of being illegal, turn to the police.
4. Take care of those in need. Take in the traveler with no place to go. Take care of the poor, downtrodden, weak, sick, crippled, needy, etc., INCLUDING THE SINNERS. The money lenders, tax collectors, prostitutes...all those people we revile, Christ reached out to. He didn't try to pass laws against them, beat them up or kill them.
5. Do not steal. I see this as the over-all commandment. Nearly every other commandment can be re-written as a statement about theft. For example: Do not steal the respect due to God, the Sabbath or your parents. Do not steal another's life, wife or things. Do you see what I mean?

This is important. Extremists Christianity and even many mainstream varieties of Christianity have gotten off-track and fallen away from the path of Christ. Are we Paulians or Christians?

Me, I'm a Christian. I try every day, in every way, to do what Jesus would have done. In many cases, that is not what Paul would have done. Who was a sinner like us and who was the Messiah? Please, read the Gospels. Jesus died for us and is our salvation, not Paul.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Results

I should be celebrating Obama's win and the way Democrats increased their majorities in both houses of Congress but I'm not. Conservative Christian Right-wingers came out and voted in force yesterday in Arizona and we've made mostly dismal choices on our ballot propositions and candidates. We voted in the wrong people, turned down the good propositions and voted in the bad ones. WTF? How did the rest of the country suddenly get progressive and Arizona regress into its solidly Republican past? *sigh*

I truly am amazed that the Republicans actually allowed the election to go to Obama. I was pretty confident that they were going to try to steal the election, and I knew they were already doing everything they could think of, including requesting a mail-in ballot for me that I never received, which meant I had to fill out a provisional ballot.

I'm also very worried about letting the Democrats take such massive control. They might easily be corrupted by the same wealthy influences that the Republicans were and we wouldn't be any better off than we were before. I hope they live up to the progressive ideals that put them in office.

We must watch them, guide them, prod them, report on them and hold them to account. We cannot sit back and assume they will do the right thing.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Resident, our Commander-in-Thief

We all want to get rid of the Resident, except for the few who truly have cotton shoved in their ears and either dollar signs or crosses burned into their eyeballs.

McCain's voting record was about 90% in alignment with Bush's preferences until about a year and a half ago when it went up to 95%, and then 100% for the last year. He talks a good line about being a maverick and in the past he has publicly stood up and spoken out for alternative viewpoints among Republicans, but the facts are straightforward. He was part of the S&L crisis, along with Jon Kyl. Frighteningly enough, that was over 20 years ago and they are both still in office as U.S. Senators. He has a temper and a tendency to fly off the handle. He's had stage 2 skin cancer and he's 72, plus he's 100% disabled according to his military discharge and benefits. The chances of him surviving all 4 years in office are slight. He is a tool of Big Oil and Big Pharma, panders to the wealthy and tries to pull the wool over the eyes of regular Americans as he helps his rich friends steal from us. Never mind Palin, who is much worse. He wants to tax Americans' health benefits from their employers rather than assist more Americans with getting health care. He wants to make Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy and large businesses permanent. This is theft, reverse-Robin Hood. See my previous post on that.

Obama has only spent one term in the U.S. Senate as well as some time in his state legislature. He's the president of the Harvard Law Review. He has worked as a community organizer and ACORN, one of the organizations he has assisted (McCain has, too) is accused of registering voters who do not have a legal right to vote in the U.S. His father is from Kenya and that family is Muslim, although Barack himself was raised by his single, white American mother, often in poverty, and later for a while in the Philippines. She wanted him to experience various religions. Part of his schooling in the Philippines was at a Catholic school and part of it was at a public school with a variety of religions represented. The stuff about him being Muslim or having attended a Madrassa (the Pakistani extremist Muslim schools to raise up fine young suicide bombers) isn't just false. It's cruel, heinous lies being spread by people who will do anything to make McCain become president. Can you really trust their morals when they do things like that? Obama is a Christian and has never considered himself anything else. Yes, for years he attended what could be considered an extremist Black Liberation Theology-infused church. That's clearly very dangerous.

He might even sympathize with black Americans (actual African or part-African immigrants or African-Americans, which are all the same bunch of untrustworthy, lazy, uppity thieves who want to be babied, right?). Excuse me for throwing up. Get over it, people. Yes, if you oppress and subjugate a group of people for a generations, treat them worse than draft animals and continue to keep them from advancing themselves by maintaining your prejudiced views, they won't quite be able to keep up with the privileged white majority. Stop blaming them for your ancestors' and your hypocritical, anti-Christian, cruel, inhumane treatment of your fellow human beings. Stop listening to the white supremacists who claim they should just haul themselves up by their own bootstraps. Few other immigrant groups faced the kind of prejudice and oppression that blacks do, and they had the other immigrants had the tremendous advantage of blending in after a generation.

Besides that, he has fairly moderate, mainstream views and actually cares about average Americans.

Most important, vote. Don't let the Republicans disenfranchise you, because they are trying to.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Letter To A Blow-Hard Co-Worker

Dear Sir,

I am not impressed by your inventive figures regarding the estimated potential cost savings; the executives' names you are throwing around; or the highfalutin meetings and agreements you mention which, frankly, may or may not have occurred. I have only microscopic confidence in your honesty or integrity after surviving many months of your empty rhetoric and duplicitous back-stabbing. I was not a part of these meetings or agreements and I consider them laughably unrealistic. It was irresponsible, pompous and ridiculous of you to employ such tactics. I hope you have come to understand that you are an arse and your email antics today have only clearly demonstrated this fact once more.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Reverse Robin Hood

The bail-out(s) are reverse-Robin Hood: steal from the poor and give to the rich. The only reason the members of Congress who have a conscience agreed to the bail-outs was to prevent mass panic and further crashing of the stock markets. Guess what? It didn't work. The rich people panicked and crashed the stock markets anyway. Fortunately, we don't have mass unemployment yet, so the poor people who didn't have any money in the stock markets anyway are a little concerned but not panicking. Why are the stock markets bouncing all over the place? Some of the rich people are taking profits. In some cases they are buying up stocks they consider good buys because the companies are sound but their stocks tumbled along with everyone else's, in other cases they are cashing in on the "short" option, where you de-value a stock by betting that its price is going to drop. "Shorts" have been a major contributor to recent market volatility, that and panicked investors grabbing their money out of the market because they're afraid it will disappear. Fortunately, the market has been so massively over-valued that those people taking their money out of the market don't have enough places to put it, so they're turning around and sticking some of it back into the market.

A "short" sounds like a great idea to an investor who wants to profit from his understanding of companies and figuring out when one is about to fail and its stock take a dive.

They should be illegal. Why? It's not an investment. It's a bet. It doesn't add anything to the stock market, to other investors, or to companies. Owning a stock you've decided is now a bad investment and selling it is a choice to protect your investment. Maybe you decide to wait and see. Maybe you do something to try to help out the company itself. Fine.

Not owning a stock and borrowing money to bet that someone else's stock which is now worth $100 will eventually be worth $1 so you can pocket the $99 difference is a SHORT.

Why is this a problem? Have you contributed anything to the company? Have you contributed anything to the market? No. What have you done? The obvious is that you've spirited away a huge portion of the value of a given stock when the company started having trouble.

What isn't obvious is that you've undercut the company's chances for righting itself because when it's stock dips a little, investors' "stops" trip causing automatic sell-offs and as the stock price slides further, "short" positions push the price dive into free-fall.

Company by company that makes having publicly traded stock a little risky. When you have stock market crashes, "shorts" can turn what might have been a little correction of a bubble into a global financial disaster.

We need to pressure our representatives to put a stop to "shorts" and contact our media to talk about it.

Will they? It's doubtful. Our representatives' campaigns are paid for by the kinds of people like to invest in short positions. Our media are owned and run by those kinds of people, at least most of it is.

We're finally starting to get heard, though, and there's hope that we can start a thorough housecleaning on Capitol Hill in a few weeks.

If each one of us is brave enough to speak out, eventually it will become clear that they have to change their ways. If each one of us figures someone else will do it; we're too busy; we're too tired; there's no point because it's just one voice in a sea of so many - nothing will change.

Don't assume your neighbor has free time, isn't so busy and is braver than you. Speak up. Your ideas, your concerns and your vote count, too.