Wednesday, September 29, 2010

More Nonsense from Global Warming Skeptics

This is beyond absurd at this point. The scientific data is so compelling that one has to be either (a) unable to actually understand science, (b) brainwashed, or (c) simply lying in order to deny that global warming is happening and that we are the cause.

But the deniers are with us and their numbers keep growing.

For some of you deniers out there, first. 97% of climate scientists agree that Global Warming is real and that it is caused largely by human pollution. Even more problematic to skeptics who will not accept proper expert opinion, the empirical evidence and causal reasoning behind why climatologist believe this is nearly impossible to dispute, as can be quickly viewed in a handy video from National Geographic, posted here below:

For those who cannot accept the solid conclusions of firm scientific reasonsing and expert consensus, by all means shout out your madness so that we know you for madmen; but for God's sake, be honest; admit that you simply don't trust science, or that you feel (in your insatiable greed) that money made from oil is worth the losses, don't lie about the facts anymore .... PLEASE!!!

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If Jesus came back as Glenn Beck

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Colbert before Congress

In what may be his greatest feat since the White House Correspondents dinner of a few years back, Stephen Colbert, once again, publicly and boldly calls our government out:

See the whole story at Talking Points Memo

What one must wonder, however, is whether such a satirical assault on congress has any kind of positive effect? Any thoughts from my readers?

UPDATE: Colbert has contexuaized the issue of immigration and migrant farm workers, on which he testified, on his show. Check out those videos here and here.

UPDATE 2: Colbert did apparently briefly come out of Character, Politico shared that video. It is very moving and sheds new light on his testimony.

Here it is (do watch):

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Crossan's Revolutionary Prayer Book

The Greatest Prayer: Jesus's Revolutionary ManifestoThe Greatest Prayer: Jesus's Revolutionary Manifesto by John Dominic Crossan

John Dominic Crossan's newest book - besides offering tremendous literally criticism and poetic insight - provides much needed depth into a subject matter that those who ascribe to liberal theology sometimes struggle with.

Accustomed as we are to a Christian tradition that all too often reduces prayer to "asking God for things," but at the same time philosophically unable to think of God as a person-like being, we simply don't know what do to with prayer; or as Paul of Tarsus (quoted approvingly and used at length by Crossan) puts it "We do not know how to pray as we ought" (Rom. 8:26).

Crossan shares a rejection of any crude anthropomorphic understanding of prayer, "it is an immature view of prayer that addresses a Supreme Being radically apart from us who thinks, and wills, knows and hears, grants and refuses more or less as we do, but with infinite broadband" (28).

Noting that the Prophets of ancient Israel seem to reject prayer and insist that God requires distributive justice (care for widows, aliens, and orphans) instead of prayer and ceremony, Crossan nonetheless does not think we are faced with some either/or. For him, prayer and justice are distinguishable but inseparable. Like two sides of a coin, we cannot have prayer without justice or justice without prayer (20-21).

From this starting point, Crossan turns to the most well known prayer in the Christian tradition, variously called the "Our Father," or the "The Lord's Prayer." This prayer, Crossan argues, expresses the heart of the message of Jesus. The prayer asks us to come together as equals, to become heirs of God, and to work together to establish the divine reign here on earth. We do this by sharing with each other fairly and equally.

Crossan spends much of the book describing the vision of an egalitarian justice found throughout the pages of the Bible. Most striking is his thouhtful examination of the use of the Sabbath tradition. Crosssan argues, persuasively, that the Sabbath is the crown of creation in Genesis Chapter one, and that the later traditions of the weekly Sabbath, Sabbath year (every Seventh year), and year of Jubilee (a kind of super Sabbath every fiftieth year), is designed to recall and enact a world of unity, non-violence, equality, and peace. His discussion of the Sabbath is among the finest I have read.

Prayer, Crossan argues, is meditation on the divine vision of a just, fair, peaceful, and non-violent world. The message of Jesus is a message that we can and must work together with God to bring about such a world. When we pray, then, "The Lord's Prayer," we remind ourselves that God and God's kingdom are present only when share our resources, forgive others their debts, and work together for peace, and that God's kingdom will only be fully present when ALL have enough, when ALL debts are forgiven and when ALL people are free to live together and live peacefully.

The book builds on Crossan's earlier work, especially God and Empire, and most of the themes are found throughout his writings. Yet there is a freshness to the presentation here, an application that warrants attention. Although most of the themes are not new for Crossan, how those ideas effect our prayers, and particularly how we say "The Lord's Prayer" is a novel application of them.

If you are open to non-traditional Christian theology and a faith informed by reason and historical method, this is the prayer book for you.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Constitution Day

Today is "Constitution Day," the Anniversary of the ratification of our nation's founding document. Though George W. Bush dismissed the Constitution as "just a god damned piece of paper," most of those who share his right-wing ideology think of themselves as its greatest defenders. The Tea-Baggers carry copies with them to rallies - almost as often as they carry firearms and racists political signs.

Of course many of them have a very narrow and literalist view of the document; much like many of the same people have a very narrow and literalist view of scripture. Just as the Bible, in their mind, is an eternal document and must be followed with wooden and a-contextual literalism, so too the constitution must be read as carved in stone, exhaustive, and eternal.

I encourage those of us who don't share Bush's dismissal or the Tea-Baggers fundamentalism to actually reflect on our constitution today. Think about it deeply, carefully, and critically.

If we do not examine it carefully, we sacrifice our founding document to the constitutional idolatry of the Tea-baggers. And just as we should not sacrifice the Bible to the wacko fundamentalists who worship it, as if paper and ink were their God, we must not allow the Constitution to suffer such a fate either.

Postscript: Here is a little info on Constitution Day

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A Move toward Socialism? Hardly.

Nice story from NPR here. Could we stop using the term "Socialist" without understanding what it means or how it works? Please, listen to this interview and let's start to think more clearly about what's really going on.


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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day casts a grim shadow

Labor Day has come and gone. The ceremonial ending of summer, a holiday - for federal workers, but not many of the rest of us - has been celebrated, grills made use of. Sadly, however, we find the outlook less than rosy on this holiday meant to honor working people.

It has been some time since being a working person in America has been a worse bargain. Unions - which give workers their only power to bargain for fair wages and decent benefits against massive corporations and other big employers - have been, with some notable but few exceptions, abolished, or at least broken and neutered, rendered impotent by pro-corporate legislation passed by the bought and paid for members of the United States Congress and White House, over the last 30-35 years. The gulf between rich and poor continues to grow and the those who are not rich are seeing their standard of living drop further and further.

Our current economic collapse shows no real sings of abetting, and nobody is adding jobs. Even federal employees, once thought safe from such disasters, are seeing their wages and benefits reduced.

To borrow a phrase from Obi-Wan Kenobi, "it is a dark time for the empire."

I would like to say something optimistic, to praise working people, and to argue that they can get some of their rights and power back. And indeed, I am quite sure that they can do so. But the immediate outlook is grim.

By pursuing fairly conservative economic policies, by eschewing more progressive ideas, Obama has failed to create jobs, failed to boost the economy. The stimulus was too small, too weak, too focused on tax cuts and minor lending. There was no real attempt to move the country toward a green economy, which would have created far more jobs, no attempt to hire more teachers, no attempts to bolster public service ... at least no more than minimal attempts. Apparently when we require money to build bombs, bail out banks, and kill people in distant lands, we have a bottomless pit of funds, but when it comes to building better roads, hiring more nurses, hiring teachers and paying them better, funding public libraries, and so on, we just "can't spare the cash."

Obama, I think, did this because he did not want to seem too "radical" too "liberal." And what has he accomplished? In all probability a radically far right, and, to be honest, rather crazy, GOP will probably take control of both houses this November. They will undo even the minimal gains Obama's white house has brought us. They will hurt working people more than they ever did before.

Ironically, many working people will vote in to office the very hacks and liars who are going to destroy their livelihood even further than it has already been destroyed.

Not only is it a dark time for the empire and for working people, but, to quote now from the Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz, "I can't be sure, but I think it's gonna get darker before it gets lighter."

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