The Watering Hole; Friday August 19 2016; ‘Godman and Skeptic’ Revisited in “Light” of Donald Trump

“The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus,
by the supreme being as his father, in the womb of a virgin,
will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in
the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason
and freedom of thought in these United States will do away
with this artificial scaffolding . . .”
(Thomas Jefferson)

******

“The Godman And The Skeptic” (A Discourse Dedicated to Creationists everywhere /
And their adversaries) is a tome I wrote damn near thirty years ago, back in the days following the Reagan years that had effectively brought evangelical wingnuts forward — as vocal Republicans — into the Public Square. It didn’t take me long, back then, to get sick of nutcase crooks such as Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts (and his brother Anal?), Jimmy and Tammy Faye Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart,  et al. et al. But what really puzzled me was how SO MANY ordinary folks bought into their nonsense and wasted so much time and energy in the process, over what basically amounted to little more than criminal peddling of religious horse hockey for something other than an honorable purpose.

Sadly, it still goes on today — amplified and more widespread than ever before. So I thought in view of that, I’d pull up “The Godman and the Skeptic” for another look and compare it with some of today’s headlines, see if anything’s changed over the years.

Here’s how I put the conflict way back then:

A godman and a skeptic met
To promulgate their views,
With godman’s premise, Genesis,
And skeptic’s, more the muse.

“God made the heavens and the Earth,”
The passioned godman says,
“And, furthermore, He did all this,
In only seven days.”

“But whence came God?” the skeptic asked,
With some temerity,
The godman said, “Don’t question that,
For such is blasphemy! “

The skeptic glowered for a time,
Then asked, “How old’ s the Earth?”
“Six thousand years,” the godman said,
“Including day of birth.

“With firmaments united, then,
The Earth was paradise,
Where beasts and fields, and finally men,
Enjoyed all without vice.

“And God made Adam first, then Eve,
Who were, as you shall see,
Progenitors of all mankind,
Kin of humanity.

“For from their loins came many sons,
Who married, then produced,
Our father’s father’s ancestors,
As, biblically, deduced.

“Thus, all the Earth is born of God,
And man’s the child of Eve,
So, lie thee down in prostrate form
And hail the Lord! Believe!”

Then godman smiled, smug, and secure
His theses were correct,
For Genesis came straight from God,
In veritas, direct. (. . .)

Today we have Donald J. Trump running on the Republican ticket in hopes of becoming the next President of the United States. But in spite of the fact that Trump’s evangelical “history” is effectively a non-entity, right wing evangelicals have accepted him as being one of them. I have no idea as to why that might be, but so far so good — for him — as evidenced by this:

Twenty-five Religious Right Justifications For Supporting Donald Trump

1. God is using Trump to pave the way for the Second Coming
2. God is using Trump to get pastors to fight for religious freedom
3. Trump could make America worthy of God’s blessing
4. Trump would make America friendlier to Israel
5. Trump will make Christianity more powerful
6. God likes ‘strongman’ rulers
7. Trump has a ‘mantle of government’ anointing
8. Trump has an ‘Elijah mantle’
9. Trump has a Cyrus anointing
10. Trump has a ‘breaker anointing’
11. Trump is a divine ‘wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness’
12. God has picked Trump to ‘beat down the walls of the New World Order’
13. Trump is fulfilling a 2011 prophecy that he will fight Satan
14. Trump is fulfilling a 2012 prophecy that he will bulldoze the White House
15. Trump is a ‘baby Christian’
16. Trump is like Jesus (and Martin Luther King and Jerry Falwell)
17. Trump is like King David
18. Trump is like Saul/Paul
19. Trump is like Samson
20. Trump is like Churchill and Lincoln
21. Trump is like George Washington
22. Trump is like Oscar Schindler
23. 2016 is a battle between good and evil
24. Hillary Clinton is motivated by the spirit of the Antichrist
25. God doesn’t want a woman president

Yeah, right. OK. Sure. Me, I remain a skeptic . . .

“Oh, I believe,” the skeptic said,
“Though not the way you think,
From what I’ve heard, the Universe
Arrived in just a wink.

“A coalescing, then a flash,
And galaxies were cleaved
From ether, dust, and energy,
If science be believed.

“Five billion years, or ten, or twelve
Had passed, when life arrived,
And finally men, though not like us,
From lower forms derived.

“And, furthermore, a question, sir,
About the sons of Eve,
Whence came the daughters, for her sons,
Mankind, therefrom, conceived?”

The godman cringed and raised his hand
Toward heaven, in disgust,
“If those are your beliefs, my friend,
You’ll burn in hell, please trust. (. . .)

“Burn in hell” — Hmmm. The concept reminds me, for some odd reason, of convicted, jailed, and released Christer Crookster Shylock Jimmy Bakker:

Pro-Trump Televangelist Jim Bakker: America Could ‘Blaspheme God’ In The Presidential Election

Oh heaven forbid! Not THAT!! “Blaspheme”? No way!

“For God, I know, has no rapport
With those who pray to see
The wisdom He withholds from men
For all eternity.”

“Your last remark makes little sense,”
Said skeptic, feigning dread,
“If you are asking we believe
God deems our brains be dead.

“For, if somewhere in endless space
A Creator exists
Who gave us minds to seek out truth,
Then why should we resist?”

The godman’s face showed beads of sweat,
He offered no reply,
He simply stared toward heaven’ s void
As wispy clouds rolled by. (. . .)

Poor godman. So sad. Maybe this will help:

Lance Wallnau: Trump Can Help Stop Satan From Taking Control Of The Seven Mountains

Yep, we gotta get them mountains away from Satan. No doubt. After that, god will really be happy and all us stubborn heathens will be forced to pay the bill!

May heathen burn, the godman prayed,
They’re evil, stubborn men,
And Lord, as why you sent them here?
Well, that’s beyond my ken.

Perhaps to try me, for a time,
Before I’m laid to rest?
Convert some souls to heaven’s song?
Yes, likely that’s my test.

But sure it is now’s not the time
To use the Holy See
As evidence, Your true intent,
Thy Word’s inerrancy.

Then godman turned toward skeptic, sad,
This man, his nemesis,
Would not accept such grand design,
God’ s apotheosis.

“We’ll meet again, my wayward friend,
By then, perhaps, you’ll learn,
That only through the Word of God,
In hell’s fire, you won’t burn.” (. . .)

Three decades ago I was still the eternal optimist, and I actually thought that it wouldn’t/shouldn’t take more than a couple of years, five or ten at the most, for all that nonsensical evangelical crapola to sink, once and for all, back into the muck from which it came.

Turns out I was wrong. For some really weird reason, evangelical nutcases still seem to have a much louder shouting voice than those of us who have evolved mentally to the point where we can actually understand reality.

“Lahk fer example”:

David Barton Explains Why ‘You Just Don’t Find Atheists’ Living Out In The Country

Barton is most typically known, amongst those whose minds have not yet died, as a bogus “Historian.” He even has, according to himself, a PhD in history. But not even that (bogus) claim is apparently enough to stop him from spreading non-historical baloney. Atheists only live in cities? Not in “the country”? I mean hey, Bartoni, I live “in the country,” in a little tiny town in rural Colorado. I admit I’m not a genuine atheist; I’m a step beyond atheism; nontheist. Big difference. Atheists don’t believe in god; nontheists note that there’s not even a god out there to NOT believe in. But cities only? What you been smoking?

In any case, all of us A- Non- theists are, however and in spite of specific labels, “Skeptics,” and for good reason. We’re tired of listening to church-speak, especially when its message is little more than the plot line in a 1960’s Charlton Heston movie. Can we move forward? Please?

“I doubt it, sir,” the skeptic said,
“For you’ve confirmed my choice,
That words beyond the biblical
Can speak with reasoned voice.

“And, too, you see, I have no need
To live in metaphor,
I’d rather seek, expand my mind,
Maintain an open door.

“To blindly mimic premises
Is not what God has deemed;
It seems more likely He mandates
That light, from dark, be gleaned, (. . .)

Speaker Paul Ryan apparently doesn’t buy into common sense either (big surprise, right?):

House Speaker Paul Ryan Reportedly Listens To Hack Historian David Barton ‘All The Time’

Speaker Ryan is an avid fan of historian David Barton. “I listen to him all the time, even in my car while driving,” he said. Because of Barton’s teachings, Speaker Ryan is very knowledgeable . . .

And therein lies the rub. Why the constant and steady downhill slope? Why were our Founders (aka vocal skeptics) so far more advanced 200+ years ago? Is there a solution to all of that, or must we continue to fight the never-ending battle against Dominionists and their bogus notions of government and population control and manipulation? Thirty years ago I thought maybe just looking the other way might be the solution; apparently not.

******

“And so, my friend, while I suggest
That your beliefs you keep,
Recall God sees us all as lambs,
Though not, I think, as sheep.”

Then skeptic turned and walked away,
Face bent as if to smile,
Safe Genesis was put to bed,
If but for just awhile.

Amen.

Or, stated another way,

“Religious institutions that use government power in support
of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths,
or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights.”
(Thomas Jefferson)

******

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 27th, 2016: “You Keep Using That Word…”

To paraphrase Inigo Montoya, with the word in question being “Liberal” instead of “Inconceivable!” (you have to read “Inconceivable!” in Wallace Shawn’s voice, of course): “You [conservatives] keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

The premise of the following three Christian Post articles is a discussion of recent books about the various authors’ [mistaken] ideas regarding liberals. I started out trying to keep this somewhat brief, but in the interests of keeping the salient points in context, it took on a life of its own. I’ll just share a excerpt of each.

In the earliest of the three articles, “Is Free Speech Just for Liberals?” CP guest contributor Susan Stamper Brown sez:

In the biography, “Churchill: A Life,” author Martin Gilbert writes how Winston Churchill loudly voiced his grave concerns about the apathy shared by those seemingly impervious to the malevolent National Socialist Movement’s intention to steam through Europe like volcanic lava, destroying everything in its way, including free speech.
In direct response, Hitler began warning Germans about the “dangers of free speech” and said, “If Mr. Churchill had less to do with traitors … he would see how mad his talk is …”

History revealed whose talk was really mad.

Truth is, Churchill’s words touched a nerve the annoying way truth always does. Hitler was incapable of engaging in intelligent debate, so he changed the subject, lied, and attacked Churchill’s character. Hitler knew his movement couldn’t stand on its own for what it really was, so the only alternative was to silence opposing views.

Throughout Germany books were banned and ceremoniously cast into blazing bonfires intended to squash divergence of thought and stifle man’s God-instilled unquenchable thirst for truth.

Historical accountings provide a glimpse into the warped psyche of those behind a movement that wrongheadedly believed they could build something worthwhile by shutting down debate, then dividing a nation by race and ethnicity.

They coldly chose their target, the Jewish race, and purged some of the greatest minds in history from all levels of teaching. Schools and universities suffered.

Before the movement decided to burn bodies as well as books, Historyplace.com cites that “Jewish instructors and anyone deemed politically suspect regardless of their proven teaching abilities or achievements including 20 past (and future) Nobel Prize winners” were removed from their professions, among them Albert Einstein.

I would’ve been one of those “purged professionals,” based on what I’ve heard lately from some disgruntled left-leaning readers. Because of my personal opinion about the president, one reader called me “a racist,” a “religious bigot,” and “a political terrorist.” While calling me a “political terrorist” is noteworthy at least, most telling is this poor man’s statement that my column, as offensive as it was to him, “was permitted” in his newspaper.

Apparently, free speech is just for leftists.

After that, the author continued to talk more about herself, so I tuned her out. I probably should have done so when she first mentioned Hitler, but her description of Hitler’s reaction, which I highlighted above, sounded so much like Trump that I had to share it with you.

In the next article, “If Intolerant Liberals Succeed, ‘Conservatives Should Be Very Afraid,’ Expert Says”, by CP’s Napp Nazworth, the breaking point came after this bullshit:

Conservatives would have much to fear if intolerant liberals succeed in their goal of transforming America, says Kim R. Holmes, author of “The Closing of the Liberal Mind: How Groupthink and Intolerance Define the Left.”
The illiberal, or intolerant, Left has come to define liberalism in the United States today, Holmes told The Christian Post, and if these liberals gain control of the Supreme Court and other levers of government, conservatives will be punished for their views.

Then these portions of the interview with the author:

CP: Why did you want to write this book?
Holmes: Like a lot of people I saw how closed-minded and intolerant progressivism had become. Whether it was speech codes or “safe spaces” on campuses, or attorneys general issuing subpoenas against so-called climate change “deniers,” abuses in the name of progressivism were getting worse.

I wanted to understand why. I wanted to tell the story of how a liberalism that had once accepted freedom of speech and dissent had become its opposite — a close-minded ideology intent on denying people their freedoms and their constitutionally protected rights.

CP: Liberalism was once defined by tolerance and open-mindedness, but liberals have become increasingly intolerant and closed-minded. We are beginning to see this phrase “illiberal liberal” more often, which gets confusing. How are we to make sense of what liberal means today?

Holmes: A classic liberal is someone who believes in open inquiry, freedom of expression and a competition of ideas. Its founders were people like John Locke, Thomas Jefferson and Alexis de Tocqueville. Among its most important ideas are freedom of conscience and speech; individual (as opposed to group) rights; and checks and balances in government.

Although progressives are sometimes referred to as “liberals,” they are not classic liberals in this sense. They are philosophically more akin to socialists or social democrats. Classic liberalism as defined here is actually closer to the views of American conservatives and libertarians than to progressives and leftists.

The term “illiberalism” is the opposite of this classic style of liberalism; it represents a political mindset that is closed-minded, intolerant and authoritarian. Although illiberalism can be historically found on the right (fascism) and the left (communism), it is today not commonly associated with American progressives. Nevertheless, it should be.

Progressives are becoming increasingly illiberal not only in their mindset but in the authoritarian methods they use to impose their views on others.

~~ and ~~

CP: Last week, President Barack Obama sent a letter to all public schools threatening to withhold federal funds if they don’t change their bathroom and locker room policies to allow use based upon gender identity rather than biological sex. Does the Left’s new intolerance help us understand Obama’s actions?

Holmes: Yes. Obama comes out of this illiberal strain of the left.

Last, this misleadingly-named piece of utter drivel written by CP’s Brandon Showalter, “Liberals Use Gov’t Power, Intimidation, to Silence Christians, Author Says.” It doesn’t take long to realize that by “Christians”, both the author of the article and the author of the book actually mean “conservatives”, and the complaint is about the fight against “Citizens United”:

WASHINGTON – Conservatives and Christians are being intimidated by the Left and an increasingly abusive government, says Kimberly Strassel, author of The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Waging War of Free Speech.
In a Thursday presentation at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Strassel told The Christian Post that overt hostility and harassment of people of faith “is clearly a big issue.”

In light of the 2013 IRS scandal where it was discovered that conservative and Christian groups were unfairly targeted, CP asked Strassel how many people she interviewed had experienced an overt assault on their faith.

While “the people that I talked to generally felt as though all their views were under attack,” Strassel said, “they certainly felt as though one aspect of them, was in fact their faith.”

“We are seeing this a lot, obviously, in the war on faith out there that we have had with the battles over Obamacare and contraception,” she added.

In her book Strassel examines the Left’s penchant, particularly in the Obama years, for bullying their opponents and their use of government agencies to silence citizens from participating in the political process.

Although she touched on several facets of the Left’s intimidation game in her presentation, the core issue she covered was the right of Americans to form associations and participate in representative government. This the Left cannot abide when conservatives do it successfully, she argued.

“The reality is that money is a proxy for speech,” Strassel contended, and Americans have always formed groups to get their message out. To the incredulity of the Left, she argued we we need more money, not less, in politics. More money means more speech. More free speech yields a more vigorous debate and a healthier democracy.

Let me repeat those last two lines: More money means more speech. More free speech yields a more vigorous debate and a healthier democracy.”  What happened to the “FREE” part of “FREE SPEECH”?

Money CANNOT equal speech – the poorest man can still speak and vote – well, vote ONCE; on the other hand, the richest man can buy as many votes as he wants.  The whole argument of Citizens United was and is specious, and the Supremes fucked us over real good when they decided on that piece of shit.

Here’s a pretty picture to give your mind a break.
GLORY10

This is our daily Open Thread – have at it!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 19, 2016: Please Don’t Feed The Bible Literalists

There are people going around expounding ridiculous theories on the history of Earth and the Life that has existed on it, and we have to stop encouraging them. I’m not suggesting they be locked up in prisons or mental institutions (the former might be a bit harsh but I do think the latter might do them some good), but I am saying that we have to stop treating these ridiculous ideas as if they have any merit whatsoever just because there are still people around delusional enough to believe them. There are many such ideas, but the one I want to talk about today is the Biblical story of the farmer’s daughter and the traveling salesman Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood. They never happened. There was no flood 4,400 years or so ago that wiped out all humans and other living land-based animals on the planet. There may have been flooding in various parts of the world, but it wasn’t a global phenomenon, and it didn’t rain for nearly six weeks, and then take nearly six months for the waters to recede. For one thing, even if all the ice on all the land melted, the waters would never rise enough to submerge all the mountains or come anywhere close to doing that. And if, as the story goes, the waters rose high enough to cover the mountains all over the world (not just in the know part of it at that time), then to where did the water recede? Did it just evaporate off the planet? Did it go down some giant drain that God temporarily plugged up while it rained? The water that rained down had to have come from somewhere. If it came from the oceans, then they would have been depleted by the amount of water they gave up to become rain. So the water coming back down out of the sky couldn’t possibly have been more than what went up into them. So the waters from the rain couldn’t possibly rise higher than the mountains. It’s just not possible.

But don’t waste your time trying to explain that to Wayne Propst, of Tyler, Texas. [First name Wayne = Red Alert.] Wayne is convinced he found evidence of Noah’s flood in his aunt’s front yard. “How much better can it get?” he asked, unfortunately to a reporter from a local television station as opposed to no one in particular. I guess that would depend on your definition of “better” and in which direction you want this story to go. For example, Wayne wants to claim the fossil he found is proof that Noah’s flood happened. (Why do they call it Noah’s Flood? He was the one good guy on the planet. He didn’t flood the earth. God did.) But if that were true, then when would the flood have happened? About 4,400 years ago? So his fossil couldn’t be older than that. But fossils, by definition, are at least ten thousand years old. If you find a fossil, then you have found something that, by definition, pre-dated the story of Noah and His Technicolor Dream Flood. Therefore it cannot be proof that the flood story ever happened, because it was already there in the ground when the flood supposedly happened above it. In fact, if you’re a Bible literalist, it was in the ground before the Earth was created.

Speaking of Noah and Worldwide Synchronous Drowning Event, I hear many people wrongly say that God’s Covenant to Noah was that he would never destroy the world again, and that the rainbow in the sky would be a reminder to Him (God, not just Noah and the other remaining seven people on the planet) of that covenant. Okay. Why would an omnipotent being need some kind of reminder about something? Does that make any sense at all to you? He’s all-knowing, yet there are things he can forget happened. He’s all-powerful, except against memory loss. But that’s not what God promised Noah. He only promised Noah and his family that he would not destroy life on Earth by flood again. Read it for yourself. But why would He have even done so in the first place? He’s an all-powerful entity, isn’t He? Doesn’t he later send out a mysterious ankle-deep fog that killed the first-born male child of every household (according to Cecile B. DeMille)? If He had the ability to do that, why not do the same thing without the first-born male filter? Why the scientifically wrong flood story? But He never said he wouldn’t do the opposite, either. He never said he wouldn’t destroy all life on Earth by drying it up, and letting it catch fire. Or by making the air unbreathable. Or by setting loose a killer virus, unstoppable by modern medicine (which some people think violates his wishes, too.) He created the world in six days, but he needed forty to flood it with extra-terrestrial water and another 150 days to let it dry up? He couldn’t do all of that with the same wave of His Hand he used to create all Life on this planet? Does that make any sense to you at all? Because it sure as shit doesn’t make any sense to me. Why do people believe such nonsense? And why do we treat them like they’re sane when they tell us they do? How can “the Bible” (which is just a collection of little books) be the “literal word of God” when it was translated from stories written in languages unspoken in centuries, by flawed human men who obviously mistook the ancient word for “moon” or “month” as the word for “year” (hence, all these old men living twelve times longer than normal), and it contains such blatant falsehoods? Please, tell me you don’t believe the Bible is literally true. I want to be able to talk to you again.

This is our daily open thread. You know what to do, and what not to do.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, June 27th, 2015: Il Papa, Don’t Preach

Recently, “Il Papa”, Pope Francis, has pissed off several (often overlapping) factions of conservative “Christian” politicians, pundits, and what I’ve decided to call “pulpiteers”, aka Evangelicals. Apparently the Pope is only “infallible” when his flock agrees with his pronouncements or actions. I find it deliciously ironic that the first Pope in, well, “god” knows how long, to actually emulate the teachings and actions of Jesus Christ according to their own bible makes all of these faux christians so suspicious, dismissive, and ultimately hypocritical. I can just imagine one of the conversations:

Derp 1: “Washing the feet of poor people and criminals? Who the hell does that?”
Derp 2: “Well, according to the Bible, Jesus Christ did. Oh, and Christ fed the poor, too – you heard that Frankie wants all of us Christians to do that, too, right?”
Derp 1: “I know, is he crazy?! C’mon, that do-goody stuff isn’t supposed to be taken literally!”
Derp 2: “No, of course not, not those “New Testament” Jesus-y parts, anyway; just the parts about dominating the earth and all its resources, and the parts about stoning homos and wimmen and your kids if they sass you.”
Derp 1: “Exactly, that’s my point, we have to put the fear of god into these $chmuck$, er, potential voters!”

After already dissing unbridled capitalism and corporate greed, among other things, in his 2013 missive “Evangelii Gaudium: Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World”, last week Pope Francis issued his now-infamous encyclical focusing on man-made climate change, and his idea of the correct Christian, and, as he noted, human course of action necessary to combat it for the good of Planet Earth and all of her children.

While some Catholic and other Christian groups agreed with Pope Francis and are willing to preach his ‘gospel’ to their flocks, other self-proclaimed “Christians” pretty much think that either Pope Francis is wrong, or that he should mind his own goddam beeswax. In particular, the many Catholics (or whatever “Christian” flavor) among the numerous Republican 2016 Presidential hopefuls would prefer that the Pope stay quiet. From the ThinkProgress article:

“At a town hall event in New Hampshire…[Jeb] Bush said that religion “ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting into the political realm.”

 

“I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home,” Bush said, “but I don’t get my economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.”

No, Jeb, you certainly don’t get your economic policy from your pope, otherwise you’d actually have to DO something to help the poor. And it doesn’t seem to be working out when it comes to “making [you] better as people”, unless somehow by “better” you mean “more hateful.”

However, you and your ilk seem perfectly happy to get your SOCIAL policy, in particular regarding women’s rights, abortion, and LGBT rights, from your pope and your bible.  And you definitely LOVE it when your flavor of religion ends up crafting legal policy for the entire country, you fuckwad.

The article goes on to say that:

“Bush’s views on climate change and religion have, at times, been contradictory. In May, the presidential candidate and brother of George W. Bush said that the science surrounding climate change was “convoluted.”

“For the people to say the science is decided on this is really arrogant, to be honest with you,” he said. “It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it, even.”

Once again, NO, Jeb, it’s NOT “intellectual arrogance” when the vast majority of scientists who have studied all of the data have come to the inevitable conclusion that global climate change is real, it’s mostly man-made, and it’s going to make the lives of your – and everybody else’s – grandchildren and greatgrandchildren a miserable hell.

And, of course, Rick Santorum had to get his twisted views out there:

““The Church has gotten it wrong a few times on science,” Santorum told radio host Dom Giordano. “We probably are better off leaving science to the scientists, and focusing on what we’re really good at, which is theology and morality.”

WHAT the huh? Morality? Wait, he’s got more:

“I’m saying, what should the pope use his moral authority for?” Santorum asked. “I think there are more pressing problems confronting the earth than climate change.”

Are you fucking kidding, Rantorum? Oh, hold on for the finish:

“When we get involved with controversial and scientific theories, I think the Church is not as forceful and not as credible,” Santorum continued. “I’ve said this to the Catholic bishops many times — when they get involved in agriculture policy, or things like that, that are really outside of the scope of what the Church’s main message is, that we’re better off sticking to the things that are really the core teachings of the Church as opposed to getting involved in every other kind of issue that happens to be popular at the time.”

Okay, for Jeb and Sick Rantorum and every other Catholic and self-proclaimed Christian: If you are true to your supposed faith, then every official utterance of Pope Francis or any other Pope is, according to YOUR dogma, the infallible transmission of the Word of your God. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, the Pope is supposed to be the unquestionable representative of your Trinity. And if you and your science-denying conservative cohorts DON’T think that global climate change is the MOST pressing problem confronting the Earth, then you don’t deserve to even be aspiring to the Presidency of these United States. Just sit down and shut up.

Anyhoo…NOW Pope Francis has done something to ruffle the feathers, to say the least, of Israel and her supporters: According to Foreign Policy Magazine:

“On Friday [June 26], the Vatican signed a comprehensive treaty with Palestinian authorities, formalizing a basic agreement between the Catholic Church and the PLO back in 2000. In essence, it is a formal declaration of the Holy See’s support for the creation of a Palestinian state and the peace process with Israel. “[I]t is my hope that the present agreement may, in some way, be a stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both Parties,” wrote Vatican foreign minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher.”

 

“The news is not going over well in Tel Aviv. “This hasty step damages the prospects for advancing a peace agreement, and harms the international effort to convince the Palestinian Authority to return to direct negotiations with Israel,” said Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.”

 

“[G]iven its sordid history of anti-Semitism, book-burnings, forced conversions and Inquisitions, the Catholic Church should think a hundred times over before daring to step on Israel’s toes,” wrote Michael Freund, former deputy communications director to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the Jerusalem Post on May 18. “If anything, the pope should be down on his knees pleading for forgiveness from the Jewish people and atonement from the Creator for what the Vatican has wrought over the centuries.”

I’m really starting to enjoy this new Pope Francis reality show (especially as a former Catholic) – it beats the hell out of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice Asshole” or “19 and Groping.”  Heh.

This is our daily Open Thread–go ahead and talk about things!

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; Thursday January 29 2015; God vs. Science – A Dialog

The (January 23) C&L post Guess What Sam Brownback Wants To Cut Now  brought forth — since Brownback is, at his center, a motivated wingnut Christian — a very lengthy dialog on religion, its impact on culture and its inevitable conflict with science.  I don’t very often get involved in lengthy weblog discussions anymore, but this was one I couldn’t resist, given this up-near-the-top premise comment:

CL Reader 101: Highly religious people like Brownback will cling to something they believe, in this case right wing tax cut cure all mentality. The mindset isn’t to think critically and reject ideas that are apparent nonsense but to have faith that your belief is true. When you’ve spent a lifetime believing in talking snakes (Genesis 3:13) and book full of fairy tales it shapes your thinking process in a way that doesn’t embrace factual analysis. We’ve recently seen the same thing when Jim Inhofe quotes the bible as proof that human activity can’t drive climate change. Electing people who rely on “magical thinking” isn’t a good thing for Kansas or the country.

— to which I responded thus:

Religious belief is anathema to logical and conscious thought, and is based on nothing other than ancient mythologies which have ZERO scientific (or even practical) evidential basis. Unfortunately, its influence over public policy and practice is immense, and far too often to the detriment of a functioning society — as Brownback and myriad other enthusiasts so vividly demonstrate.

That pair of comments sparked a whole pile of replies, mainly because there was one ‘believer’ involved, one of those who typically will accept nothing other than a concession to their own personal belief. I suspect we all know the type. In any case, below is a highly edited recap — to save space, I removed a whole pile of short and repetitive comments which were in agreement with the theses noted above, all without any attempt to diminish or accelerate the overall context. What remains is a ‘discussion’ of sorts, one that emphasizes the differences between faith-based and science-based premises. To wit: science is always willing to follow the facts and revise views accordingly; religion follows faith only, facts to the contrary are of no use and dismissible.

The conversation began with a ‘friendly’ comment by AnnG14, the ‘believer’; the rest are (selected) back-and-forths in the order they first appeared, screen names intact.

AnnG14 (response to frugalchariot): I completely agree with the separation of church and state. However, just as science can not prove there is a God. Science can not prove there isn’t a God either. And as far as the big bang theory that life was created by a big explosion and atoms crashing together, that is really not more logical than a sentient being having created the universe. By the way Einstein believed in the divine order of the universe as have many other brilliant people,

frugalchariot: Well, the Big Bang theory reflects the probable way that the universe came into being and has nothing to do with life as we know it — which evolved close to ten million years (on this planet at least) after the Big Bang.

Science also cannot prove either the existence or non-existence of the Great Spaghetti Monster, a factoid which doesn’t really bother me all that much.

Fact is, there is not a single shred of verifiable evidence anywhere that either a god or a Spaghetti exist or have ever existed. Further, the whole of the universe including black holes, dark matter, and even life itself are far more logically explicable if a “sentient being” is left out. We are finally getting a grip on the concept of the Big Bang’s singularity, but why build a god into the equation? Doing so only brings up the question, where did IT come from?

I suspect IT was a product of early human imagination — a means to explain the unexplainable, also a way to justify power and authority of the few over the many. Roughly the same as today, actually.

vonBeavis: That’s Flying Spaghetti Monster, you infidel!

frugalchariot: Actually I was referring to the Older Testament Spaghetti Monster, creator of everything. The Flying one is his son; his story’s in the Newer Testament.

AnnG14: You don’t believe. WHO CARES WHAT YOU BELIEVE OR DON’T BELIEVE, OR WHAT I BELIEVE EITHER.

I’ll take Einstein over you. He was a lot smarter than you and not so smug spaghetti boy.

Pocatello: “WHO CARES WHAT YOU BELIEVE OR DON’T BELIEVE.”

And nobody cares what you believe…. But outright lying and trying to pass along that “Divine” order, “Einstein believed” bullshit in the context of any anthropomorphic “Gawd” is just pathetic.

in a 24 March 1954 Letter to Joseph Dispentiere, Albert Einstein wrote,  “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”

Any competent “researcher”, retired or otherwise, would know that.

frugalchariot: Thank you. It might also be fair to note that Einstein died in 1955, long before the Big Bang thesis (originally proposed in 1927) became the accepted model of universal origin. In fact it wasn’t until the mid-sixties and the discovery of background radiation throughout the universe that the Big Bang overwhelmed the Steady State theory, to the point where today there is no longer much mystery surrounding universal origins (the discovery and confirmation of the Higgs Boson the latest significant VERIFIED evidence).

It should also be fair to add that throughout scientific evaluation and exploration of the universe, its billions of galaxies, star-birthing ‘places’, gravity-collapsed black holes, and now the as yet undemonstrated but theoretical dark matter — while immense amounts of verifiable evidence on all planes concerning the origins of everything have been collected, nary a single shred of scientific evidence that might even SUGGEST (much less prove or even indicate) the existence of ANY version of a sentient creator has EVER been found anywhere, Period.

As I suggested earlier, there is exactly as much solid evidence for the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster as there is for any other variety of ‘god’ — but yet, even here in the ‘enlightened’ USA god’s bogus existence overlays and ‘inspires’ some of the most heinous efforts to mask and to hold back or halt completely human accomplishment that exist anywhere on the planet (or in the universe, insofar as we have yet been able to determine).

I should add that I care less what any person chooses to believe. All I ever ask is that they keep it in the closet and to themselves unless/until some verifiable evidence is uncovered, at which point there will be an audience willing to listen, myself included.

AnnG14 (to Pocatello):  A personal God is NOT the same as not believing in God.

“When the solution is simple, God is answering.” Albert Einstein

Nope you lie. Einstein said the universe was too orderly NOT to have been created by a sentient being. And the cheap shot was started by spaghetti boy. Why is it you atheists think YOU have the right to JUDGE everyone’s beliefs?

1Gary: I simply do not get your point? If Einstein believed in God that makes everyone else who does not believe in God wrong? How does that make any sense? Beliefs are not facts. They cannot be measure or weighted. It was once believed that the Earth was flat now we know it is not. You argument is not logical.

IronPyrite: “Einstein said the universe was too orderly NOT to have been created by a sentient being.”

And who, or what, created this “sentient” being that was capable of designing and creating the universe?

(and round, and round, and round, and round we go…)

AnnG14: God always was. If you want to believe that all life was created by a gigantic explosion and atoms crashing together you can. How was intelligence created in that scenario?

IronPyrite: So you explain what the big bang is and isn’t. I’m waiting for you to prove me wrong, but you can’t. I’m not your personal assistant and academic tutor. I don’t have to prove you wrong, as you have ALREAY proven yourself wrong by conflating the Big Bang  with “life”.

This, ON TOP of your abject failure to provide ANY evidence as to the existence of god.

AnnG14: And your abject failure to prove that God does not exist. Once again I will go with Einstein. And YOU should be able to prove what you say on the big bang theory. You can’t do that either. Neither can you answer a simple question, that I have asked you repeatedly: You say that God did not create life then how was life created? Still waiting.

frugalchariot: Life evolved. The ‘laws’ of physics and chemistry plus a multi-billion (earth) year time frame, plus liquid water and a reasonably benevolent climate and atmosphere allowed it. No need whatsoever for any divine guidance.

AnnG14: How did life START, PARTICULARLY INTELLIGENT LIFE? Almost everyone knows that life has evolved.

frugalchariot: Intelligence is a biological trait and evolved just as did every other life function. The human brain is larger than that of a mouse, therefore has more capacity for ‘intelligent’ function. Intelligence is simply a neuronal function, nothing at all mysterious about it. 

AnnG14: If God did not create life then how was life created? Why don’t you be honest and say you can’t answer an honest question. I have found atheists are all offense but can not defend/answer simple questions about their own beliefs.

frugalchariot: Life was not ‘created.’ Life happened; it is really nothing more than a curious assemblage of “star stuff” (thanks, Carl Sagan) which is different than other curious assemblages of star stuff. There is no magic needed to explain the origin of life’s curious assemblage, only chemistry and physics combined with enough time to become biology. And really, it’s just that simple.

Jim C: Speaking in terms of creation has no relevance when one understands the term ” eternity “, eternity doesn’t start and end anywhere . If you try and make the ” well, if god doesn’t exist then who created all this” route you must then ask the question , then who created god ?

AnnG14: No you don’t. No one created God. God always was.

I am not a fan of Huckabee or Chistian Fundamentalists or atheists for that matter. All of them think they could not be wrong and anyone who does not believe as they do is just stupid.

Regarding the big bang theory, who/what created the matter that exploded?

frugalchariot: The answer to that remains in the shadows, although with the confirmation of existence of the Higgs Boson (“the god particle”) the mystery of the singularity’s origin is one step closer to explanation. The origin of ‘the god particle’ will, however, likely remain elusive to scientific examination and eventual fact, but that’s different than the origin of god-the-sentient-creator thesis. The latter’s origin is clear: it emerged from the primitive minds of evolving humans, and then grew into the monstrosity it’s become because of the implicit power the concept grants to the most corrupt minds of the developing human species. And there it remains.

[. . .]

There clearly is no plausible way to discuss the obvious non-existence of a god with anyone who chooses to believe in a god-based mythology. It puzzles me, the vitriol of even self-described ‘tolerant’ god people, that immediately takes hold of any conversation with anyone who either denies or doubts their religious thesis.

I myself am not an atheist, I am, like Edward Abbey, ‘beyond’ atheism; non-theism. Atheists don’t believe in god; non-theists understand that there is no god to even NOT believe in.

IF confirmable evidence of god-existence should ever show up, I’ll willingly listen. Until then, no. And in the meantime I’ll resist any and all propaganda that attempts to induce belief in that vast intellectual (and most often subversive in intent) emptiness called religion.

Jim C: It shows insecurity I believe .

frugalchariot: Belief in a god has several motivations, I think;

First, it allows full and total explanation of that which is unknown, and no data, no evidence, no proof of any thesis whatsoever is ever needed. “God did it” suffices as an answer for every question the severely limited mind can come up with.

Second, belief in a god does indeed allow the fearful-of-everything “mentality” to gain the comfort implicit in eternal life in a mystical heaven where there is nothing ever to fear.

Third, those who willingly preach the god thesis to the fear-laden and susceptible minds gain a measure of control over the many; the sensation of ‘power’ is very satisfying to those with limited creative potential.

And fourth, the bigee: the truly-gifted godman charlatans find that their faux preachings eventually lead to widespread control of the ignorant masses. Imagine a pasture bull in the midst of a herd of cows and there you have it: religion defined. The mythical god has done its job.

 Jim C: All I can say is, yep.

So that’s the bulk of the ‘conversation’ which, I think it’s fair to say, once again ran into that unbreachable wall of blind faith, the belief in something which has no evidentiary verification whatsoever. Why is that? Why is empirical data so easily dismissed in favor of blind nothingness? Does it reflect the failure of science education, or does it point to the vast success of religious education?

But the beat goes on and on as evidenced by recent headlines, such as Bobby Jindal’s Prayer Rally Advocates Putting Christians In Control Of Government And All Aspects Of Society in which the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement reiterated their thesis which asserts that conservative Christians should take control of the seven main areas of culture and society: (1) Business; (2) Government; (3) Media; (4) Arts and Entertainment; (5) Education; (6) Family; and (7) Religion.

What could possibly go wrong?

OPEN THREAD

 

 

 

The Watering Hole; Friday December 19 2014; Religious Dialogue

Once again it’s the Holiday Season. Hanukkah. Kwanzaa. Christmas.

All are celebrations of beliefs; each differs from the other, each is the product of religious sincerity, each a celebration of history, of culture, of community. In our particular corner of the world, the Christian Christmas is by far the most visible because Christianity is, after all, this nation’s dominant belief system, the one that preaches Charity and Joy, Tolerance, Understanding, and Love of Others. Right?

A quick look around at recent “Christian” viewpoints suggests something a bit different.

Rick Santorum: Separation Of Church And State A Communist Idea, Not An American One

The Perfect Right Wing Christmas Card

Bryan Fischer Explains Why Muslim Terrorists Are Responsible For The CIA’s Use Of Torture

Jesus Would Support The Use Of Torture

What puzzles me most about those four posts — selected randomly, without effort and in just minutes — is not their specific detail, but more the overall undercurrent that clearly drives them. Why, I have to wonder, so much irrational fear and hatred? I was always taught that the virtue of religious belief was the opposite. “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Be your “brother’s keeper.” Et cetera. Where’s the Christian admonition to hate Muslims? To find solace and comfort in torture? Why does Santa need a gun? Why is the freedom to believe differently, to not be forced to accept a Christian thesis, a product of Communism? Wherefrom derives — and why — the obvious fear, the implicit hatred?

A decade ago I was a frequent visitor to an online discussion group that had participants from around the world, people of every race, of every religion. Just recently I happened across a folder filled with old discussion files. The one that first caught my eye was dated January 5, 2005, and was my response to a religious “question” posed by a gentleman from Pakistan. He was a banker, also a devout Muslim; the fact that he was a regular participant in a US-based discussion group during the Bush aftermath of 9/11, and was willing to speak his mind on any issues that might arise there was, I thought at the time, both courageous and interesting.

What I found even more fascinating was that in said discussion group there was none of the vitriol, none of the fear and hatred that was so constantly featured on TV news reports and parroted back by people everywhere — those irrational fears and hatreds that were (and still remain) common to both sides of the world. Over here we’ve been instructed constantly on the best reasons to hate Muslims, to fear their next attack, and to accept torture as a legitimate consequence of (and potential solution to) our irrational fears and hatreds. The world’s other side was and still is, of course, similarly taught to hate America and to fear everything it’s presumed to stand for — the potential consequences of our irrational fears and hatreds (read: anti-Islamic passions) in particular.

Still, all participants in those discussions understood that rational chit-chat amongst divergent cultures and religions was a definite virtue. This is the only hard copy on this particular topic I’ve so far found, but to me, at least, it still speaks a lot louder than the hate and fear crap which remains so common even today.

(Note: Mr. Ashraf’s first language was obviously not English, yet he managed to use it to communicate far more lucidly than I could have ever managed in whichever lingua is common to Karachi Pakistan):

Adeel Ashraf wrote:
I agree that being human is most important thing. However, if i may submit that one can be a best human while being a bit of relgious. as per my information on Islam. Human Rights , and being human has been given first priority than duties towards Allah. For example, its mutually agreed by all muslims, that Allah might forgive his rights on judgment day i.e. saying prayers but will not forgive a penny to a misdeed on account of our fellow human beings. so i might get forgiveness from God if i dont say my prayers..But i will not be spared it i screw any of my friends, family, other human beings …animals, etc.

Reply –
Adeel — I have the utmost respect for each and all who adhere to the religion of their choice, so long as each and all live a life which respects the sum of this magnificently beautiful planet and every life form upon it, all of which is offered free of charge to those who care to take a moment to ‘see’. I do understand full well that there is beauty in each the Quran, the Jewish bible, the Christian New Testament, and in other holy books everywhere — and I respect each and every shred of that aspect of all of them, always. I am, however, troubled by what certain men do with holy text, how they interpret it to satisfy their own selfish agenda, how convenient it can be for a scoundrel to find millions of his subjects loyal to words only — to backward interpretations of words — rather than to the basic ideal which should (and would, if practiced properly) allow each to find his way to live and prosper — man, beast, bird, and tree alike.

Human, however, invariably imposes his own baggage, and all too often it is self-serving baggage. My choice was, a long time ago, to walk away from Human agenda and to instead immerse myself into the vibrancy of the creation itself, that immensity of beauty of which I am but a tiny speck. In my view, I’m entitled to no more, and no less, than any other collection of atoms — and therefore I try to walk carefully. I’ve found room to have no more argument with the stars and constellation than with the bacteria which digest sewage — or anything between, above, or beneath (save for politicians and crooked clerics, of course). I have no argument with the whims of the Earth’s crust as it shakes and moves, nor with the storms that blow across sea and shore. I have no argument with beasts, with trees, no argument with thorns or with sharp teeth; I only have argument with Human agenda, and then only when it is dark, seeking power rather than the light of truth or beauty.

So I hope always to draw upon that which is good and beautiful in life, and to disassociate myself from that which is not. I’ve abandoned the label, but pray I’ve saved the essence of my Christian upbringing — because it does, in its purest sense, represent too the essence of Judaism, of Islam, of Love itself, of all that is worthy of the ideas which underlie the words “Creation” and “Life”, and even “God.”

I can’t imagine that God, in any concept or context, would sanction wanton destruction — whether of Earth, or beast, or Human himself, or of property, of cities or farms. To destroy serves no useful purpose, but yet ‘destroy’ is what Human does best — and so often, he proclaims, it is destruction that is mandated *in hoc signo*, under the banner of God. I think not.

Today in the US, a topic which is near the forefront is whether America should, or will, preemptively attack and/or invade Iran. To do so is necessary, some say, to rid the world of the Mullahs in charge there, to make the world safe for …. for … for what? For me? For the children? No. More likely for agenda; some suggest it’s a good thing to make war in the Middle East because it will speed the return of the Christ. Apocalypse? Bring it on!

Do you see that I can’t associate myself with those voices anymore? That I must, instead, find the means to live as far from that chatter as is possible? I’ve found a way, I think — a way which allows me to pursue the never-ending search for Truth even as I disassociate myself from each and all of the major religions and their respective dogmatic “bandwagons” (for lack of a better word). And in so doing I can still hear the music but I no longer feel the obligation to march in lockstep. “God” is in the music, not in the rhythmic pounding of muffled feet. And while some surely believe they’ll burn in hell for the occasional misstep or sour note, I’ll be seeing “god” in the center of a flower, or in the approaching storm clouds, in a sunrise; or I’ll be hearing His voice in the howl of a wolf, a baby’s cry, or in the rumble of thunder — because I know that “God” IS the creation — a knowledge that puts me in instant communication with that one power which seems to forever elude popes, mullahs, preachers, priests, and even presidents.

In the movie Gandhi, actor Ben Kingsley, in the title role, spoke a line that (paraphrased) went something like this: “I am a Christian, and a Muslim, and a Jew, a Hindu and a Sikh …”

Would that we might all — truthfully — one day find ourselves able to say the same.

That was ten years ago, and still no progress toward understanding, toward tolerance and compassion. Why is that, I wonder? Maybe Michele Bachmann has it all figured out? I suppose it could happen because, as someone once observed, “There’s a first time for everything.”

Yeah, well, OK. Maybe tomorrow.

OPEN THREAD