The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 2nd, 2015: “Just Say No To FRC” Part Deux

Last Saturday I wrote about how Faithful America, a group of more Christ-like Christians, were protesting against CBS’s Bob Schieffer having Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council on Face The Nation to discuss the gay marriage case currently being argued before the Supreme Court. On that Sunday’s show, Bob Schieffer told Tony Perkins about Faithful America’s request that the interview be cancelled, due to the fact that the FRC (NAMBLA) doesn’t represent the majority of Christians. Faithful America’s petition to CBS had mentioned that the FRC was considered to be a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. That mention of SPLC apparently was the dog whistle for the other crackpot faux-religious groups to attack, demanding that “CBS and Bob Schieffer” apologize on the air to the FRC. According to their complaint, and confirmed by various googled sources, the FBI had taken the SPLC off of their “hate crimes resources” list due to an incident where an “SPLC supporter” attempted to shoot people at an FRC office. Here’s the Conservative Action Project’s letter to David Rhodes, President of CBS News – unfortunately it’s a PDF, but I’ll just quote a little bit of it:

“The interview was more than sloppy journalism. It was an assault against Judeo-Christian people of faith.
The work that FRC and its President Tony Perkins do to promote healthy families and traditional values is irreplaceable in our culture. To suggest, as Schieffer did, that FRC doesn’t represent Christians flies in the face of reality. The millions of Americans that we, the undersigned, collectively represent are proof of that.”

~ and ~

“It is now clearer than ever before that the liberal media–including CBS–along with the radical left, aided by the Obama administration, will stop at nothing to use their power and the power of government to silence, shame, punish and fine Americans who embrace traditional marriage and other politically incorrect truths. This is an unacceptable trend in a free society with a “free press.”

Well, just wait a minute here, you, “the undersigned.” There’s a big difference between representing millions of Christians and representing “millions of Americans.” Especially when you read the list of “the undersigned.” Right near the top of the signatories is Frank Gaffney. Almost “’nuff said” right there, for those of us who are aware of Gaffney’s looney-tunes Islamaphobia. But take a brief look at the names and their groups, and you’ll recognize a few right off the batshit, er, I mean ‘bat':

Ed Meese (The Hon. Edwin Meese III to us peons)
Brent Bozell
Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin
Tim Wildmon of the AFA (NAMBLA)
Herman Cain (“9-9-9″)
Gary Bauer
Joseph Farah (okay, I didn’t recognize the name, but he’s from World Net Daily.)
David Bossie, President, Citizens United

Since some names and organizations didn’t ring any bells, I took a look at one organization that had more than one name associated with it: Institute on Religion and Democracy. Apparently Right Wing Watch and another right-wing-tracking group, Right Web, know them even if I didn’t.

From the IRD’s home page:

“The Institute on Religion and Democracy is a faith-based alliance of Christians who monitor, comment, and report on issues affecting the Church. We seek to reform the Church’s role in public life, protect religious freedom, and support democracy at home and abroad.”

Maybe my dad’s big old family bible had had a page ripped out – you know, the page where Jesus instructed the Apostles to “support democracy at home and abroad.” Or, since it really was a big-ass door-stop bible, maybe I skipped that page? I always thought that Jesus wanted his followers to do good works, help the downtrodden, and give hope to the hopeless. I seem to remember some big speech that Jesus gave about “Blessed are the peacemakers, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” – and no, NOT the CHEESEmakers, the PEACEmakers. (Thank you SO much, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam.)

I’ll leave you to peruse some of the IRD articles and the group’s blog (I recommend “An Open Letter to Pope Francis on Climate Change”) Their blog has the icky-weird name of “Juicy Ecumenism” – hmmm, I’ll bet we could make a “Santorum” out of that.

I wonder if Bob Schieffer will have something to say on tomorrow’s Face The Nation. Maybe a correction or elaboration on the SPLC’s status would be in order, but an apology? Just say ‘NO’, Bob.

This is our daily Open Thread – enjoy yourselves!

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 9th, 2015: Monday Morning Morons

I know that we do a lot of Right-Wing-Nut-Job (RWNJ) bashing here, much of it about the more Rabid Religious amongst them (RRRWNJ) but…well, both (often overlapping) groups just come up with so many things that invite ridicule, they’re their own worst enemy. Just look at last week alone (in case you missed some of these):

Being gay is worse than Murder and Genocide. Yes, now, according to “Pastor” Scott Lively, homosexuality is the Number One sin against God. An excerpt from Right Wing Watch’s article:

“Last month, rabidly anti-gay activist Scott Lively warned that if the Supreme Court strikes down state bans on same-sex marriage, it could lead to the rise of the Antichrist by the end of the year.”

In an interview with Bryan Fischer on Friday, “Lively told Fischer that America is about to cross “a line with God that hasn’t occurred in the entire history of the world since Noah’s flood” – which Lively claims was caused by god because god apparently hates gays. Back in January of 2013, Lively had stated:

“We need to remember that in the time leading up to the Flood what the rabbis teach about the last straw for God before He brought the Flood was when they started writing wedding songs to homosexual marriage and Jesus said that you’ll know the End Times because it will be like the days of Noah. There’s never been a time in the history of the world since before the Flood when homosexual marriage has been open and celebrated, and that’s another sign that I believe that we’re close to the end.”

(Snip)

“I think this is the issue of the End Times, homosexuality. It’s present, if you do a careful investigation of all the scriptures dealing with this from the beginning and all the way to the end, God is painting a very clear picture that this represents the outer extent of rebellion against Him in a society and the last thing that happens before wrath comes.”

Okay…first, I thought that President Barack “Hussein” Obama was the AntiChrist in RWNJ eyes. So there’s another one? Second, I don’t know what religious sect/cult Lively is the “Pastor” of, but if it’s based on Christianity in any way, then I must have been dozing throughout my 13 years of Catholic schools.

Anyhoo…today, “Pastor” Lively is urging his followers and other groups to, according to his “Open Letter to America”

“…band together in the spirit of 2 Chronicles 7:14 to promote and conduct a continual prayer vigil and stand-out for marriage at SCOTUS (or any Federal Courthouse for those who can’t get there) from now until the ruling comes out, probably in June…”
“This is a general call to all believers to go to SCOTUS alone or in groups to pray and hold signs. Churches and other organizations can choose dates or times to rally their own troops if they like and/or hold press conferences etc., but let’s all just put out the word to whatever circle of influence we have and let the Holy Spirit stir hearts.

I am asking every Christian and pro-family radio talk host to promote this vigil, and perhaps do a broadcast from the site. Large organizations could provide logistical support…”

(snip)

“Only God can save us from the calamity and disgrace of defiling His institution of marriage in our official national policy.

Let us take the authority we have in Him, and the freedom we have as Americans, to join together to surround the federal judges with such a hedge of prayer that they will be forced to bow their knee to the one who created marriage as the foundation of all human civilization — one man and one woman.”

Hmm, “god created marriage as the foundation of all civilization”? I don’t remember any wedding performed by god himself–you’d think that the bible would have mentioned that, huh? And now Scott Lively thinks that the entire Supreme Court of the United States should get on their knees for something other than sucking Koch and refer all decisions to Lively’s god? I realize that one or two of the Justices would be happy to do so, but all nine? Rather unconstitutional, don’tcha think?

Back to Lively’s call for a prayer vigil: from BibleGateway, the 1599 Geneva Bible version, here’s 2 Chronicles 7:14:

14 If my people, among whom my Name is called upon, do humble themselves, and pray and seek my presence, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear in heaven and be merciful to their sin, and will heal their land”
Footnotes: 2 Chronicles 7:14 I will cause the pestilence to cease and destroy the beasts that hurt the fruits of the earth, and send rain in due season.

I’m not sure how Lively uses this as an anti-gay call to march/pray, as neither 2 Chronicles 6, nor the remainder of 2 Chronicles 7, makes any reference to homosexuality. But I’m sure that Lively’s twisted interpretation is a masterpiece of pulling it out of his ass, so to speak. Considering how many whoppers he produces, one could probably drive an SUV up his asshole–well, a 4WD SUV, anyway.

Well, let’s leave “Pastor” Lively to his unChristian vigil, and go on to:

OMG, Christians are being persecuted – again! Poor embattled Ken Ham (“Answers In Genesis”, Creation Museum) is whining about being denied $18 million in tax breaks for his planned Noah’s Ark park by the State of Kentucky’s Tourism Board. The Board “cited AIG’s stated intention to discriminate based on religion in its hiring of theme park employees and to use the taxpayer-subsidized park for religious evangelism…” On a RW radio program last week, Ham stated:

“If Christians just keep accommodating and allowing this to happen more and more, we will lose that free exercise of religion.”

“It’s more and more of that trying to eliminate the Christian freedom that we have in this nation,” he said.

Yes, of course…those poor, poor Christians having to cave to the Constitution. I just don’t know how they’ll manage to keep practicing their faith, what with all their churches being shut down and religious leaders arrested, and…oh, wait, that never happens. But, but…tax breaks!

And lastly, in a switch away from the RRRWNJs to the “normal” RWNJs, Fox News’ pet climate change denier, Mark Morano of climatedepot.com, is very upset. According to RawStory, he does NOT like the idea that “Google’s popular web-search engine is being re-engineered to direct users to more “trustworthy” websites, saying “Let the public decide what’s the truth…” The article goes on to say:

“The proposed changes at Google would move websites up in the rankings based upon truth and not popularity.

Morano, who previously worked for Rush Limbaugh and climate change-denying Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), says this would be[sic] put him at a disadvantage.

Well, fucking DUH.

This is our daily Open Thread–what’s on YOUR mind?

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 8th, 2014: Huh?

I guess I’m a glutton for punishment, but over the weekend I was looking at the TP thread about Dick Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson’s recent appearance (apparently as a religious/foreign policy expert?) on Sean Hannity’s RWNJ lovefest, er, ‘news program.’ Robertson was asked about the situation with ISIS, or, more correctly, ISIL. (The full transcript, if you can stomach it, is here.) Here’s the pertinent excerpt of Robertson’s response:

“In this case, you either have to convert them which I think would be next to impossible. I’m not giving up on them but I’m just saying either convert them or kill them, one or the other…I think converting them, maybe has that time come and gone… [I’d] much rather have a bible study with all of them and show them the error of their ways and point them to Jesus Christ…however if it’s a gun fight and that’s what they’re looking for, me personally I am prepared for either one.”

At the TP thread, after reading way too many comments (including this gem: “The next attack in U.S. the only people that will Truly stand against them are Christians”)   expressing the idea that ISIL is coming to a neighborhood near you soon – or they’re already here – and we’ll all be beheaded in our beds, so as a good christian nation we should just kill them all, this started:

Dennis Terry ·
“If the liberals had these murderous animals coming into their house, they would do just as Phil suggested, and so would I. We ARE our brother’s keeper, and we should stand in the gap for the innocent and protect them from the murderous bullies that vow to dominate the world. We should get rid of them while the numbers are still on the lower end of the spectrum.”

Me ·
“”If the liberals had these murderous animals coming into their house”

All of you hate-filled “christian” fearmongers keep using this type of argument. Do you believe what some of the R politicians are saying, that ISIL warriors are coming through our southern border disguised as refugee children? Get a grip, and realize that some of the warhawk macho ‘we’ve got the TRUE god so let’s kill all of those fanatics who are killing for THEIR “true god.”

I have no more fear of an ISIL hit squad invading my house than I do of your god striking me dead for not believing in him. I’ll sleep peacefully tonight while you all wet your beds.”

Dennis Terry ·
“Jane E. Schneider First of all, I will not be wetting my bed at night, I am NOT losing sleep over them or liberals, nor am I a “hate filled” Christian. Who the heck died and gave YOU the right to look down your self righteous nose at us when you know nothing about us? I might possibly be the best friend that you ever had. Why are you so angry? I am my brother’s keeper and I want ISIS stopped at any cost to protect the innocent people over there. Is that hating? I think that it is loving the innocent and being forced to destroy evil. I don’t WANT anyone to die, but with these animalistic beings, the only choice we have to stop them is by killing them, just like we did Hitler, or any other murderous personification of evil. If they would live and let live, we could all live together in peace, but these radicals will NOT do that- they have a WELL KNOWN agenda of world domination, so you must know very little about them. Do you NOT think that these people going around cutting people’s heads off and raping the women and cutting off the children’s heads and putting them on poles….do you NOT think that they are acting like cold blooded animals? Do you NOT believe in evil? Do these people NOT fit your definition of evil? Why are you so venomous toward Christians instead of ISIS? Doesn’t that strike you a bit odd? It does me. And YES, if you had a murderer or a rapist come into your house at night, you would either WISH that you had a gun to protect yourself, your children or other loved ones, OR you would call someone with a gun (police), and hope that they made it there in time. If not, you would be a fool…….but wait a minute…..you don’t believe in God, so, according to the Bible, you ARE a fool from the get-go, for a fool hath said in his heart that there is no God. You can sit there and marinade in your hatred for Christians and all other things spiritual instead of directing your anger toward the REAL evil, you have that right., but you are foolish for doing that.

Me ·
Dennis Terry, I went to Catholic school for 13 years, was raised by very devout parents who actually exemplified Christ’s teachings better than the majority of “Christian” leaders and “Christian” pundits on TV. The very idea of killing anyone for their religious beliefs is abhorrent and a complete contradiction to everything Christ said. That was how I was brought up.

Today’s U.S. religious leaders are a whole ‘nother kettle of fish, and nothing that they are preaching these days has anything to do with actual morality and ethical behavior. And just because they no longer do their conquering crusades with swords or torture devices does not mean that they’re any less dangerous than any other religious fanatics. They have lost their own spirituality, their own morals, their own souls, for power and money and domination of others. The only real difference between U.S. religious fanatics and Middle-Eastern religious fanatics is their methods – both of which I reject.

If you and the other “Christian” commenters here think that your religious views are being attacked, too bad, we “godless liberals” have been under deliberate coordinated attack since at least the ’50s, when “In God We Trust” was added to our currency to distinguish the supposedly-god-fearing U.S. nation from those “godless commies.” So we’re pretty sick of it, because we DO have morals, and family values, and we work hard and pay taxes, and we’re patriotic, too.

[Please keep in mind that it’s 2:00am here in NY, so I’m tired and jumping around a bit, since you decided to ask me “20 questions”, not all of which I’m going to bother to respond to as they have nothing to do with the topic of the thread.]

I do believe in evil, but not in the satan/biblical way; I believe that some humans either lack or have a particular DNA section that makes them sociopaths. Obviously, people such as those in ISIL take that to a higher level, and I am not defending them in the least. I’m just sick and tired of the hypocrisy of so-called Christians who use their religion as a shield and a weapon, and cannot see that the more they advocate for violence, the less Christ-like they become. Not to mention the danger that they put the U.S. in, loudly calling for their own version of jihad, which does not go unnoticed around the world. But that aspect never seems to bother the growing number of xenophobic and insular U.S. citizens.

I don’t hate all Christians; like Ghandi said, “I like your Christ, but I don’t like your Christians.” If someone who claims to be Christian acts like the Christ that I learned about, I’m just fine with that, I applaud them. Just because I believe that most organized religions are a menace and hinder human progress, doesn’t mean that the particular set of moral values ascribed to Christ is dangerous, it’s the exact opposite. But these days I guess Christ isn’t described as the “Prince of Peace” anymore, right?

You can sit their with your own shield and weapon of your “Christianity” telling me that I’m the high and mighty one looking down my nose at you, but you’re the one marinating in your own assholier-than-thou [HT Zooey] stew telling me that I’m the fool “from the get-go” for not believing in your god and your holy book. You mind your own soul, and I’ll mind mine, thankyouverymuch. Goodnight.”

~ later, not as a reply ~

Dennis Terry ·
Look, I was minding my own business and from out of nowhere, you started attacking me and my God and Christianity, and making very goofy accusations which you had NO clue about. And THEN, you made the stupid statement of “’we’ve got the TRUE god so let’s kill all of those fanatics who are killing for THEIR “true god.” “ What? Where did that come from? It has NOTHING to do with Who I follow or what god THEY follow- ISIS needs to be stopped, NOT because they are Muslim, but because they are vile, evil , murderous thugs, so why did you say something that bizarre to start with, and why did you attack me instead of them? I haven’t murdered anyone or cut off anyone’s head!

Then you said, “And just because they no longer do their conquering crusades with swords or torture devices does not mean that they’re any less dangerous than any other religious fanatics.” Again, a stupid statement- Protestants never engaged in the Crusades, that was strictly a CATHOLIC doings, and what dangers do Christians have in store? Post the 10 Commandments in our schools to teach them moral values to protect society and to keep them from a life of crime? Or teach abstinence instead of having babies out of wedlock? Or lead some prison inmates to the Lord so that they stop their lives of crime, and become law abiding citizens? Or give Hope to the Hopeless? OMGosh! Call the National Guard! What happened to you to make you so angry about religion, Christianity in particular?

Then you said- “So we’re pretty sick of it (being attacked), because we DO have morals, and family values, and we work hard and pay taxes, and we’re patriotic, too.” But you are an atheist, so why do you have morals? Aren’t you a biological accident from some primordial slime? Aren’t morals God’s values? They aren’t biological in nature. The Bible talks about people like you, having a FORM of Godliness, but denying the Power thereof. This is going to sound mean, but I don’t intend for it to. I am GLAD that you had some wonderful parents that taught you morals, and that you are honoring them for that, but you need to get your priorities straight about what you are going to believe. If you are an atheist, act like an atheist and give up EVERYTHING pertaining to God, including morals and values.

Why are you liberal atheists “under attack”? Because a small, handful of atheists go out of their way to take Prayer and Bible out of school and our sporting events and our graduation ceremonies and are trying to remove ALL aspects of Christianity from society, even though the VAST MAJORITY do NOT want them removed. We KNOW that Christianity teaches those same morals that you are so proud of having, taught to you BY CHRISTIAN parents, and we know that THAT is WHERE your parents got them from to teach to you in the first place! Can’t you see the hypocrisy there? You have morals and values, that YOU ARE PROUD OF, TAUGHT TO YOU BY CHRISTIAN parents, yet you want to prevent other people from being taught those same vales and morals that you seem to hold so dear! The Bible, once again talks about atheists who in the Last Days will call GOOD-EVIL, and will call EVIL-GOOD.

You say that you believe in Evil, but NOT in a Biblical way, but evil “IS” a moral judgment FROM God. From an atheistic, evolutionary point of view, we are animals, and animals do whatever they do, there is NO right or wrong, good or evil- THOSE ARE moral judgments, straight from a Moral God. The atheistic, evolutionary view is, Survival of the fittest, kill or be killed- THESE are natural events and actions WITHOUT God, without Morals. THAT is why atheistic regimes and dictators murder multiple-millions of their people, their subjects, to make examples out of them to keep the rest in line to maintain their death grip on their selfish, atheistic power.

And then you sink to your atheistic true colors by calling me, “assholier-than-thou “ comment. I would NEVER say that to you, and I believe that your atheism is overshadowing your “moral” upbringing.

I don’t understand the double mindedness, and double standards of atheism, or why you work so hard to fight against something that you claim to NOT believe in. There are people who believe in unicorns- I DON’T believe in unicorns or UFO’s so why in the world would I waste my time fighting them for their beliefs? Something to consider- WHAT IF, the Bible “IS” TRUE, and where the Bible says, If God is NOT your Father, then you are of your father, Satan, what if- your hatred toward Christianity and all things pertaining to God is actually a SPIRITUAL matter, and you atheists are pawns, being used by Satan and not realizing it? That’s something to consider.”

Adm Andrew J. Walker ·
“Good arguments my friend. An atheist wouldn’t actually have the time to debate a religious article because they would see it as a waste of time (a total rejection of all forms of theology or anyone who practices them.) It sounds like this guy is looking for justification for deviating from what he was taught growing up by attacking others. The goal is to see if his arguments stand, so that he can feel better about his decision to reject what he or she learned at an early age.

So basically the comments on the message board are his or her way of dealing with repressed feelings of anxiety about the afterlife. Better not to let someone drag you into a circular debate that at its root isn’t actually about religion, or the lack-there-of, at all.

What I am really saying is that there are some mommy/daddy issues here.”

Dennis Terry ·
“Adm Andrew J. Walker I believe that is very perceptive of you. But atheists do this all the time, and the person I was talking to, there is a double mindedness that she is proud of, yet hates and wants to destroy, all at the same time, so something else is brewing underneath the surface it seems. I truly believe that it is spiritual warfare, and these people, as I said, are being used as pawns, and have no idea of what is REALLY going on. She said things about the Catholic church which I wonder is the root of her hatred, and if so, I can understand it, as the CC has ALWAYS had many, multiple conflicts with the Bible, and a history of unBiblical, unhealthy, spiritual issues. Thanks for the comment my friend!”

Becky Marsland-Hill ·
“Wow, that is spot on Dennis……I am sorry someone attacked you. But those are truly words of wisdom you replied back”

Dennis Terry ·
“Becky Marsland-Hill Thanks Becky. I’m not saying that I am perfect or that I am wise in anyway, but I “DO” know God and He wants us to take a stand against evil and to help others in need. God Himself waged wars against evil doers to protect the world, and His people. He also had a lot to say about those who would reject Him and His incredible sacrifice to purchase our Salvation. This person was spewing hatred toward the Christianity for the Crusades, and that was bogus. It was NOT Christianity- it was the leadership of the CATHOLIC church, of which she, herself was raised! The leadership of the CC was NOT acting as agents of Christianity- they were engaged in unGodly activities such as murdering Christians, and burning the Christians and anyone else who DARED to disagree with them at the stake. They went around in the Crusades and other areas DOING EXACTLY OPPOSITE OF WHAT JESUS TAUGHT! They were doing exactly what atheists have always done- silence those who disagree with you, however you have to do it, and isn’t smart enough to see that she is hating Christianity for what the atheists were doing, under the guise OF RELIGION! Anyway, I feel so sorry for people like her and wish her well”

Wow – just wow.  As badmoodman commented on this last week, “Irony facepalms itself, then throws up its hands in unconditional surrender.”  Perfect, bmm.
This is our daily open thread, please talk about anything you want to.  I’ll just be over here banging my head against the wall.

The Watering Hole; Friday, January 24, 2014; The Poetry of Earth (part II)

“The poetry of earth is never dead.”
(John Keats, 1817)

A long time ago, the English poet William Wordsworth  wrote, in “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey,” a most able synopsis of the ideal relationship between mankind and the balance of earthly life:

 To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
 The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue.  And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man
A motion and a spirit that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.  Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear, — both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognize
In nature and the language of the sense
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my hearth, and soul
Of all my moral being.

One has to wonder, sometimes, what has happened in this, our ‘modern’ era, to Wordsworth’s “joy Of elevated thoughts”? A glance around at each day’s news headlinesat politics both at home and globally, at scientific data and the discussions based thereupon — offers little reassurance that “The anchor . . . of all . . . moral being” still has any root at all “In nature” much less in “the language of the sense.” Today about all that seems to count, at least for our species, is acquisition of money and power.

I’m not at all certain as to just how many different and distinct species inhabit this little backwater planet we call earth, but I’m guessing ‘tens of millions’ would at least reach ballpark status. And in a sensibly run situation, each and all species would most likely remain viable for a good long time, susceptible far more to global changes brought about by astronomical events than to any sort of localized ‘eat or be eaten’ thesis. In fact, one of the more significant mass extinctions happened some 65 million years ago when a sizable asteroid smashed into the earth, tossed all sorts of dust, smoke, and other debris into the atmosphere, modified the climate, and slammed the door on the dinosaurs, among numerous other life forms, in result. Extinction by natural phenomena is nothing new.

Then came humans. Homo sapiens, as we’ve named ourselves. Not sure just when it was that we popped up. Six thousand years ago, if you believe the believers; maybe a million years ago, give or take a hundred thousand or two, if you believe science. Not that it really matters all that much, given that it’s looking pretty certain that we as a species are well past the halfway mark of our existence, given how diligently we work with all our clever tools to modify the global climate sufficiently to force another mass extinction. Lucky for us there’s all that fossilized carbon left beneath the surface by all the life forms that disappeared in the last mass extinction; it appears, in fact, to be more than enough to ‘fuel’ (sotospeak) the next one.

Oh well, what the hey, I’m too old to worry about it all that much; my fate will likely already be a historical footnote by the time the mass die-off commences. Still, there are the young folks, and, well you know, the millions of other species, many of which will be at risk simply because of the idiocy implicit in our one species.

What went wrong?

I checked with poet Walt Whitman; he offered this little bit of wisdom back in 1855 as part of the preface to his masterwork, Leaves of Grass. He speaks my mind, and he somehow managed to do it some 87 years before I even showed up!

Animals

I think I could turn and live with animals,
they are so placid and self-contained

I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied,
 not one is demented with the mania of owning things,

Not one kneels to another,
nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,

Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth

Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men – go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers or families – re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.

Sounds like some of the best advice anyone could ever offer to not only you and me, but also to the entire of our species (even including such sapiens marginals as, say, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, et al. et al. . . . the list is endless). And seriously, just how is it that life-on-earth’s most “intelligent” species is the species engaged in a process previously left solely to galactic processes? What went wrong?

I tried to answer that question a decade or so ago. I used a total of 140 syllables in my so called Paradox of Humakind: Superior Inferiority effort and while I’m not at all sure I overturned every stone in the process, what the heck, right?

Brash vanity ordains that Mankind be
Superior to all other life on Earth,
And curious source of this Mythology
Derives from Bible’s unintended mirth.
Thus bold is he who advocates the case
Of Genesis errant, where metaphor,
As whimsical devise, cannot replace
Realities which each confirm the Core
Of Life: that every living form appeals
To Duty greater than itself alone.
A single moment’s intellect reveals
One Truth, as if inscribed in tempered stone:
Each bird and beast, each flowered weed, each tree
Expounds on Man’s Inferiority!

So today, thanks to human consumption of fossil fuels and with climate change well underway courtesy of atmospheric CO2 levels approaching historic levels — with the Arctic ice cap rapidly melting and thereby allowing the release of the even more climate-altering (permafrost-embedded) methane, and with efforts on the part of science and thinking people to do whatever is necessary to halt and reverse the process dismissed as some sort of collaborative tom-foolery by industrial and political power centers — we have managed to contrive a potential mass extinction episode with the potential equivalence of the asteroid collision some 65 million years ago.  Bring on the Keystone XL Pipeline! More War! Invade Syria! Nuke Iran! Yeah! Benghazi Benghazi!!

So. Where is the sapiens these days, the intellect, the intelligence? What of “The anchor . . . of all . . . moral being”? Wordsworth drew that concept as he apparently pondered the messages he gained from his juxtaposition between the natural world and the world of Tintern Abbey in Wales, an ancient church founded in 1131 by Cistercian Monks who adhered to the Benedictine philosophy that insisted upon a moderate path between individual and institutionalized theses. Tintern Abbey stands in ruins today, as it has for several centuries. One cannot help but wonder if the words “in ruins” are not also applicable these days to most ‘Western’ religious practice, given that today’s major and most murderous conflicts are, after all, between the three major “God” -based belief systems of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And so the question persists: wherein and in whose hands lies the fate of the human species, indeed of the planet itself?

Brings to mind yet one more piece of compelling poetry, this one written by Philip Appleman sometime in the latter half of the twentieth century. It’s titled Last-Minute Message for a Time Capsule, and its message carries an all too familiar ring of truth.

I have to tell you this, whoever you are
that on one summer morning here, the ocean
pounded in on tumbledown breakers,
a south wind, bustling along the shore,
whipped the froth into little rainbows,
and a reckless gull swept down the beach
as if to fly were everything it needed.
I thought of your hovering saucers,
looking for clues, and I wanted to write this down,
so it wouldn’t be lost forever –
that once upon a time we had
meadows here, and astonishing things,
swans and frogs and luna moths
and blue skies that could stagger your heart.
We could have had them still,
and welcomed you to earth, but
we also had the righteous ones
who worshipped the True Faith, and Holy War.
When you go home to your shining galaxy,
say that what you learned
from this dead and barren place is
to beware the righteous ones.

Are we genuinely the ‘masters’ of our own fate? Of the fate of the planet’s biosphere? Based on current information, we may well prove to NOT be that much better an option than another collision with a giant asteroid! Here’s a better idea: re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem . . .Thanks Walt. If we can get THAT done it will be further evidence that Keats might have been correct after all when he wrote, “The poetry of earth is never dead.”


OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 18th, 2013: Pope-Pourri

Separated At Birth?

Separated At Birth?

On February 11th, Pope Benedict XVI, aka Joseph Ratzinger, aka Emperor Palpatine, announced that he was leaving the sinking ship giving up the leadership of the “Worldwide Catholic Church” (or NAMBLA), effective on February 28th, 2013. A papal conclave will soon be convened by the College of Cardinals to determine the next Pope, possibly by the end of March.

The New Yorker provides a few-holds-barred critique in John Cassidy’s blogpost “The Disastrous Influence of Pope Benedict XVI“, an interesting read which succinctly summarizes the regressive Papal policies of both Pope John Paul II (with then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s aid) and Pope Benedict XVI. I really recommend this article, as it clearly outlines the conflicting forces within the Church, which currently favor the conservative side.

I wholeheartedly agree with E.J. Dionne’s opinion piece from February 15th in the Washington Post, as he discusses why “The Best Choice for Pope?” is “A Nun.” As a veteran of 13 years of Catholic schooling, I can confirm that the nuns were more responsible for educating us in school subjects as well as religious subjects than any of the priests or the Monsignor of our parish. The nuns also set much better examples of Christ-like ideals and actions, as we all now know.

Yesterday, I signed a petition from Catholics United, urging Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, the former Archbishop of Los Angeles, not to participate in the upcoming papal conclave.

Former L.A. Archbishop John M. Mahony

Former L.A. Archbishop John M. Mahony

From a Catholics-United Press Release on February 14th:

“WASHINGTON – After the stunning news that Pope Benedict XVI will be stepping down effective Feb. 28, Catholics in Los Angeles are urging Cardinal Roger Mahony to stay home instead of participating in the election to determine the next pope. Mahony was recently stripped of his public duties for his part in a sex abuse cover-up while he led the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.”

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Andrea León-Grossman, a Los Angeles member of Catholics United. “In the interests of the children who were raped in his diocese, he needs to keep out of the public eye. He has already been stripped of his ministry. If he’s truly sorry for what has happened, he would show some humility and opt to stay home.”

The Washington Post Editorial Board published a scathing piece on February 13th entitled “The Sins of Cardinal Mahony”; here’s a few excerpts:

“Eleven Americans will be among the 117 cardinals of the Catholic Church heading soon to Rome to select the next pope. One of them, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony…is lucky not to be in prison, for there is no dispute that he orchestrated what amounted to a cover-up of clerical sexual abuse in Los Angeles…the scale of the misdeeds in Los Angeles, the largest archdiocese in the United States, counts as a particular disgrace. And it is Cardinal Mahony, who resigned as archbishop two years ago, who oversaw the whole dirty business. For that he has been publicly censured by his successor.”

In response to his public rebuke, Cardinal Mahony, who has a master’s degree in social work, wrote that nothing in his training had alerted him to the risks involved in the sexual abuse of minors. How about common sense, respect for the law and a basic understanding of human beings?”

And, for the last word on this issue (for today’s thread, anyway), here’s Andy Borowitz.

This is our Open Thread. Your thoughts?

The Watering Hole, Friday Jan. 18 2013; Drought and Heat vs. Civilization(s)

Sinagua Petroglyph Collage, a few of the more than 1000 ancient glyphs carved on a sandstone cliff face at theV-Bar-B site near Wet Beaver Creek in the upper Verde Valley of Arizona

Sinagua Petroglyph Collage: a few of the more than 1000 ancient glyphs carved on a sandstone cliff face at theV-Bar-V site near Wet Beaver Creek in the upper Verde Valley of Arizona

Drought-reduced precipitation typically goes hand in hand with elevated temperatures, and the consequences to impacted civilizations can be, and usually are, devastating. Case in point: a thousand years ago, what we today call the American Southwest was home to essentially five different (and advanced) cultures. In the area commonly referred to as the Four Corners, the Anasazi culture embraced today’s SW Colorado, NW New Mexico, NE Arizona, and SE Utah. In eastern Arizona, western New Mexico, and probably extending into northern Mexico as well, the Mogollon people dominated. In the southern Arizona deserts lived the Salado and the Hohokam, and between Hohokam and Anasazi lands, the Sinagua. The Sinagua (name based on historical Spanish records which described the aboriginal inhabitants’ desert surround as sin agua, i.e. ‘without water’) are considered by most archaeologists and anthropologists to be the precursors of the Hopi people of northern Arizona, a premise with which the Hopi are in general agreement. It’s also believed, at least in some quarters, that the Sinagua persisted longer than the other four major cultures, although dates of ‘departure’ or disappearance are extremely difficult to ascertain with any precision. Suffice to say that all five cultures had disappeared at least a century, possibly two centuries, prior to the arrival of the Spanish (in Arizona) circa 1539.

What caused their collective (and more-or-less ‘sudden’) disappearance? Until recently, the presumed most significant factor was the enduring and severe drought that blanketed the Southwest in the late thirteenth century. Speculative dates of disappearance range from the early 1300’s to, in some cases, as late as 1450. One could surmise that, since the people were dependent upon both crops and wild game for their food, a crippling drought would likely have played a significant role both in crop production and in the quantity (and quality) of food and materials available to hunters and gatherers; modern tree ring data generally confirm those suspicions.

There are, too, other considerations that have arisen in archaeological and anthropological studies over the last couple of decades, particularly in re the disappearance of the Anasazi. These new theses involve emergent evidences of an apparently severe and divisive religious ‘crisis’ of some sort alongside an obvious infestation of internecine conflicts between different subgroups, with ensuing cultural demise brought to logical conclusion by the encroachment of severe drought. The archaeological and anthropological evidence is, of course, scant and largely speculative; the evidence of a severe drought and its likely impact remains a far more unchallengeable reality.

What tweaks the imagination is the reality that today, we here in the US (along with peoples of other countries throughout humankind’s emergent global society) are on the apparent leading edge of extreme anthropogenic global warming and its consequent climate changes that predict not only severe droughts and untenable temperature elevations, but also profoundly destructive storms as well. In addition, the US finds itself confronted by divisive local and global religious conflicts, intermingled with malignant cultural subgroups including such bizarre “cults” as the National Rifle Association in league with gun manufacturers and sellers as well as with innumerable and heavily armed individuals and deviant “militias” (none of which are EVER ‘well regulated’).  Add to that our myriad numbers of absurdly severe political AND religious extremist and/or racist entities and suddenly the problem becomes clear — obvious, in fact, to the point where, after one reflects on historical precedents, the question: what could possibly go wrong? answers itself in a single word: everything!

The Hopi, descendants of at least the Sinagua and perhaps also the Hisat’sinom (Anasazi), have a word that essentially describes the human predicament, both ancient and modern: Koyaanisqatsi. According to the Hopi Dictionary: Hopìikwa Lavàytutuveni, Koyaanisqatsi means “life of moral corruption and turmoil” or “life out of balance”.

[NOTE: Koyaanisqatsi is also the title of a 1983 film (a Francis Ford Coppola Production) which is presented in ‘mystical’  fashion as . . .

time-lapse photography, often shown in hyperspeed, and shot primarily in the desert of the Southwest and New York City, (and) shows the contrast between the pace of the natural world and the one that man has made.

It does, indeed, point toward the ‘life out of balance’ and ‘life of moral corruption and turmoil’ memes which are so frighteningly commonplace in today’s USA. It’s available on DVD, and well worth a watch.]

The modern Hopi people are, meanwhile, derivative of ancient culture(s). They are a people who trace their roots back, via their thesis of origins, to the emergence, at Sipapu in the Grand Canyon, of Human from the Third World of the creation into this, the Fourth World. The Hopi also believe that, by way of antecedent wanderings and explorations of North, Central, and South America, from Atlantic to Pacific and from Arctic tundra to the very tip of South America itself, the paths of the ancient nomads finally converged and crossed at the point where their three great mesas tower above the surrounding desert plains. The Hopi understand themselves to be descendants of these first inhabitants of the Americas. They remain a peaceful people, deeply religious Keepers of the Earth who believe that their progress on life’s road derives from the unspoken observation of life’s laws. Their village of Oraibi, on Third Mesa, is the oldest continuously-occupied settlement in what is, today, the United States. The Hopi people and their culture have withstood the onslaught of at least three tiers of invaders — Navajo, Spaniard, and American — and yet their culture remains intact and faithful to its beliefs, and to practices which are rooted in an antiquity few others can or will ever even attempt to comprehend.

Sinagua Ruins (Hopi ancestors) at Walnut Canyon, Wupatki, and Montezuma Castle, Arizona

Sinagua  (ancestral Hopi) Ruins at Walnut Canyon, Wupatki, and Montezuma Castle; Arizona National Monuments on the Colorado Plateau and in the Verde Valley, resp.

Perhaps it would be wise for modern societies to, for once, listen to and heed the precepts of ancient wisdom, to consider the potential consequences of Koyaanisqatsi in this modern era, perhaps even to attempt correction of those cultural practices (and foibles) which can — and have — provoked the demise of otherwise advanced civilizations. But I’ll not hold my breath in anticipation.

This is today’s open thread . . . speak up, and enjoy!

The Pimeria Alta

Today’s southern Arizona – i.e. all the land below the Gila River, about 1/3 of the state – was, a few hundred years ago, under the governance of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and parcel to a large territorial Province referred to as the Pimeria Alta, i.e. the Upper Land of the Pimas.  The area was thus named because the indigenous peoples, the Sobaipuri, were principally of Pima and closely related O’odham (Papago) ethnicity, themselves each and all presumed to be descendants of the vanished Salado/Hohokam culture which had left behind, on the Sonoran Desert, the huge footprint of a highly advanced civilization, one which had endured for more than a thousand years prior to its mysterious disappearance a century or two before the arrival of the Spaniards.

In the late 1600’s the Spanish began the task of Christianizing the Sobaipuri, and assigned the responsibility primarily to Jesuit Fr. Eusebio Kino who established missions at Tumacacori, Guevavi, and Bac, all Sobaipuri place names — “towns” — alongside the north-flowing Santa Cruz River. The missions were eventually brought under the protection of Spanish military garrisons stationed at the Presidios of Tubac (near Guevavi and Tumacacori) and Tucson (near Bac).

Today, (visibly) little remains at Guevavi other than a few mounds of crumbled adobe wall. At Tumacacori, however, the ruins of a large church still stand, protected and maintained as part of Tumacacori National Historic Park. It’s approximately 17 miles north of the international border at Nogales, a hundred or so meters west of the Rio Santa Cruz, and within easy view of traffic on US Interstate 19. Some fifty miles to the north, again near the banks of the Rio Santa Cruz but on O’odham land stands the crown jewel of Pimeria Alta missions, ‘The White Dove of the Desert’, the Mission San Xavier del Bac. It remains an active church, and as ‘the finest example of Spanish colonial architecture anywhere in the US’ is also a National Historic Landmark under constant care, preservation, and restoration.

Those old missions are, to me at least, captivating places. The embedded history is of course fascinating, but even more fascinating is the ‘message’ each sends, subliminally, to I suspect most any visitor who is innately curious enough to take a look at the physical consequences of historical events and then ponder the new reality that resulted. In the case of the Pimeria Alta, the embedded Sobaipuri culture was forever changed, not often for the better, following the ‘invasion’ from the south of an alien people who spoke a ‘foreign’ language and were physically quite different in appearance (and I suppose some might suggest that with no Russell Pearce, Joe Arpaio, and/or Jan Brewer equivalents to stand in their way, the Sobaipuri paid the ultimate price . . . but that’s another story for another time).

For my part, I began regular visits to both Tumacacori and San Xavier in the mid-seventies, not long after my then ‘permanent’ relocation to Arizona. Following are a pair of photo-poetic essay “messages,” one on each church. The photos date back to around 1976; the most recent were taken on my last visit in October, 1999. The words? Same span of time plus a decade, I suppose. Ideas seldom seem to gel all at once. Don’t know why that is, but if I ever figure it out will surely advise.

In Hoc Signo . . . Vinces

       In Hoc Signo Vinces

**********
Who knows but he will sit down solitary amid silent ruins,
and weep a people inurned and their greatness changed into
an empty name.”  (Constantine De Volney)

**********

ELEGY ON A RUIN

Tumacacori abstraction IIReflections on Mission San José de Tumacácori,
Established in 1691 by Jesuit Fr. Eusebio Kino of New Spain
in Pimeria Alta, on the banks of the Rio Santa Cruz
near Tubac, Arizona, in today’s
Tumacácori National Historic Park

A ruin rests on hallowed ground
In somber reverie;
‘Tis but a shell, an empty church
Called Tumacácori.

Tumacacori - Facade‘Twas built, it’s said, to cleanse dark souls
Of distant, heathen lands;
But conquered souls returned to dust,
The church to sculpted sand.

the church to sculpted sandThe priests and sacred chants are gone,
Old bells, in silence, hang;
Thick walls of clay shroud empty rooms
Where once the heathen sang.

old bells in silence hangBeneath an alabaster dome
In quiet, dark repose,
The Mass is sung by haunting wind
Which ex cathedra blows.

ex cathedra

Beyond the church, a graveyard lies;
Its walls enclose the dead
Departed souls, known but to God,
For whom no tears are shed.

graveyardAtop the dome a cross of life
Points toward what man aspires;
But on each grave, the cross of death
Marks that which he acquires.

on each graveThe breeze mocks sacred melody
While whispering o’er cracked stones,
Though only souls interred can hear
Hymns piped through hollow bones.

hymns piped through hollow bonesWith majesty, this crumbled church
Once served as mankind’s womb,
But men were born, then fled; it’s now
A vaulted, silent, tomb.

silent vaulted tombWild Flow’rs nearby in splendor bloom,
How sad they cannot see,
That splendor need not fade with time
Though life, with time, must flee.

Tumacacori - profile-aa

**********

“These Temples grew as grows the grass.
Art could aspire, but not surpass.”
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

**********

THE MISSION
of THE SAINTS

Bac profile 1a-1Reflections on Mission San Xavier del Bac,
Established in 1692 by Jesuit Fr. Eusebio Kino of New Spain
in Pimeria Alta on the banks of the Rio Santa Cruz,
on today’s Tohono O’odham Lands near Tucson, Arizona

They stand in stoic, frozen – Silent – pose,
The Saints of San Francisco Xavier,
San Xavier, of Bac.
Niches of adobe’s sculpted clay
and Paints of earthen pigment
decorate their resting space;
Raiments borne of color
and of homespun cloth –
adorn the Votive silence
There.

Bac saints composite 1One strains to hear the voice of God –
Encouragement of Saint –
Yet hears but prayerful murmur,
or creak of genuflect,
Or folding of the hands,
or splash of tears
Before the altars, circumspect,
Within the view of Saints,
Within domain of man’s devise —
Within the grasp of Silence.

Bac saints composite 2To ill define domain of man —
His quest of Power and of Wealth,
of conquering and punishment —
As gift of God Himself
Suggests that man perceives his worth
quite differently
Than gods, or saints
Or even wolves;
He sees himself as dominant,
As gifted, born in image of his God!
–and in his mind–
Angelic voices sing in praise!
Of his mightiness!

Bac-compositeThey stand in stoic, frozen – Silent – pose,
The Saints of San Francisco Xavier,
San Xavier, of Bac.

There sings no chorus –
Here.