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Balls*

This post is about the dangly bits of a man’s junk. Not the mundane, hairy pair that every guy has. No, this post is about big, sweaty, swinging, Godzilla sized gonads.

More specifically, I’m talking about the balls that must get in the way every time Andy Schlafly tries to walk from point A to point B. For those of you who don’t know, Andy is the son of uber-conservative Phyllis Schlafly. Now, if you already know who Andy is, then you already have an idea of how monstrous his genitals must be. After all, not everyone has the testicular fortitude to create Conservapedia, aka, the wildly crazy far-right answer to Wikipedia. As just one example, Conservapedia’s entry on the French Revolution states that it culminated in, “a chaos wherein thousands were guillotined for being politically incorrect.” Admittedly, the French Revolutionaries, who started out with good intentions, quickly devolved into barbarous terrorists, but come on, it takes stones the size of GibraltarĀ  to side with the let-them-eat-cake crowd.

Anyway, Mr. Schlafly has recently proved himself to be in possession of Margaret Thatcher sized bollocks when he introduced his latest project, the Conservative Bible Project. In a nutshell (ha, pun!) Schlafly feels that all the modern translations of the Bible (and “modern” apparently means “all of them, regardless of age”) are corrupted by liberal heresies. Schlafly also seems to believe that the best solution is to re-translate the Bible using the collective wisdom of America’s millions of home-schooled children (seriously, who else is going to contribute?).

I find a number of things about this funny (not the least of which is the fact that the good people at Conservapedia seem to be unable to distinguish between the different definitions of the word “liberal” as evidenced by their taking issue with the, ahem, liberal use of words by former Biblical scholars). However, the best part, to me at least, is the idea that a failing with other Bible translations is that they don’t illuminate the pro-capitalist, free market orientation of Jesus’ parables.

I discussed this with my father, who is by no means a religious man, but he has spent more time studying the Bible than anyone else I know. His take on the situation is that there’s no way to read the Bible and not walk away with the conclusion that Jesus was, if not a communist, then at least a socialist.

While I respect my dad’s opinion, I do disagree with him. I admittedly don’t have a lot of in-depth knowledge about Jesus’ teachings, but from what I do know, it seems wrong to ascribe to Him labels that only make sense in the context of economic systems that didn’t exist at the time of His incarnation.

Biblical Judea was notĀ  like the modern world (duh). Back in the day, it wasn’t like it is now, where there are some people with very little money, some people with a great deal of money, and a majority of people who fall somewhere in between**. In Jesus’ time almost everyone was starving to death and just a lucky few pooled all the available resources between themselves. When Jesus extolled the virtue of giving one of your two coats to someone who had none, he wasn’t talking to Israel’s equivalent of Middle America, he was throwing down the gauntlet against the ruling elites; they were the only ones who could afford thermal outerwear. Which means that for all intents and purposes, Jesus was not a socialist, but rather a revolutionary. In this he was not unique. Rather, what made him special was his (admittedly somewhat dodgy) committment to inclusion and his refusal to turn to violence.

Anyway, what I’m getting at is that I find this whole thing funny the same way I find it funny when closeted politicians argue against gay marriage. Which is to say I find it the kind of sad that requires one to laugh.

Also, the scariest part of the Conservative Bible Project is the thought that they might actually finish their translation (realistically they won’t, but there’s still a non-zero possibility that they will). The way I see it, James Dobson and Pat Robertson are big enough pricks as it is. Can you imagine the hights of jackass-ity they’ll reach if they get a new, more narrow-minded script to work from?

*That’s right, I’m blogging again. Why? Because I’m old school like that.

** I’m aware that if you look at the total world population the situation is more like almost everyone is broke-ass poor while a few motherfuckers are wealthy beyond the masses’ imagination. However, the sum total of wealth in the world today so dwarfs the total wealth of the Ancient World that comparisons become skewed. Realistically, if everyone in the Western World (where, by and large, the money is) were really determined to do something about global poverty, we could effect a great quantifiable change.

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October 9, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion | Leave a comment

An Army of The One

So, here’s a fairly random thought: where are the parenting books on how to prevent your kids from becoming religious nutcases? I mean, there are plenty of books out there on how to raise your kids in a manner pleasing to God, but what resources are there for making sure your kid doesn’t get caught up some semi-cult revival movement? I mean, hell, even the books on how to de-program and re-brain wash your kids are written from a Christian perspective and aim to break children of their idolization of MTV and Hollywood.
Now, please understand, I’m writing this as a person who one day will be a father and has no greater desire than to raise nice, pleasantly agnostic children. The last thing I want is for them to turn into some weird BattleCry, Christian Exodus podlings who reads Worldnetdaily for fun (latest headline: Illegal aliens are driving drunk on American roads)
I mean, I want to raise kids who are free to find their own salvation and religious meaning, but I really don’t want my children to become an active part of a faith that believes that everyone not a part of a specific church is hellbound. Maybe I’m alone on this but I don’t think that pittying every single one of your countrymen (and, indeed, fellow Earth inhabitants) is good parenting.
Now, I’m not worried about my kids going all felon as a result of their religious conversions (I mean, part of what’s great about America is how we water down our most violent faith-based impulses) but still… Even ruling out strapping a bomb to one’s self, there are still plenty of religiously inspired douche-baggy things a kid can do. Like cursing pregnant women, proudly (and loudly) boycotting rock concerts, wearing those (and I mean this literally) God-awful “This Blood’s for You” t-shirts or bookmarking Worldnetdaily (seriously, DUIllegals? Come on. Sure, points for originality, but this is the site which once warned me that Mexico was sending in soldiers dressed as Tex-Mex resturant busboys).
Besides, what if they do get all armed and dangerous? Does anyone remember the last Children’s Crusade? Look it up, a bunch of French kids in the 1200’s, clad only in their nighties and weilding nothing more threatening than their purity tried to travel to Jerusalem to reclaim the Holy Lands from the muslims. There were enough children to fill seven boats, which left France for the Middle East. Two of the boats sank and the remaining children were sold into slavery as soon as they hit dry land.
So, I ask you: where are the books to guide me guide my children towards simple, unassuming spirituality?

April 7, 2007 Posted by | Religion | 2 Comments

Why Doesn’t America Have More Killer Muslims?

So, here’s something that’s been bothering me: why aren’t there more American Muslims committing murder in the name of Allah? For the record, I have no idea how many of this country’s murders are actually committed by Muslims for religious reasons, but I’m willing to bet the percentage is negligible.
Think about it like this, France can’t seem to go a lunar season without an Islamic riot and the Dutch can’t run an editorial cartoon without ducking for cover and yet can anyone think of a similar occurrence in the U.S.A.? I can’t, and I’ve spent most of my life living (relatively) close to the largest concentration of Muslims in the country. I mean, the only thing that comes to mind was a disturbance in the 1980’s when a white college radio DJ played the Cure’s first single, ‘Killing an Arab’ (a new wave adaptation of Camus’ The Stranger) and mentioned that he thought taking out some Middle Easterners sounded like a good idea. The Arab population was outraged and their anger took the form of some harshly worded letters to the editor.
Now, I’m not saying Dearborn’s a great place to picnic after dark, but it’s hardly the most dangerous place in the country, or the world for that matter (can I get a “What! What?” from all of my London peeps?). It seems to me that if the behavior of Arab immigrants in Europe were any true indication of Arab immigrant behavior worldwide, then Detroit should be a smoking crater (well, more so). In fact though, history has proven that when it comes to domestic bred terrorism I have more to worry about from fundamentalist Christians than I do from Muslims.
Now, I’m not the sort to pose a question without answering it with a poorly-reasoned and ill-informed opinion (for the purposes of this explanation, all of my facts come from Gregg Easterbrooks The Progress Paradox, a book I read three years ago and only sort of remember… I wouldn’t take any of this as Gospel). I think the reason that America suffers so little Arab-American violence has everything to do with the fact that we are America (for the record, I know that sentence reads clunky and sounds stupid, but I honestly can’t figure out a better way to write it). As much as our immigration policies and cultural attitudes toward immigrants could benefit from some retooling, when we say that America is a melting pot, it’s more than just lip service. Like every nation on Earth, through legal or cultural pressures, America encourages immigrants to adopt the practices of their adoptive country. However, what America does better than possibly anyone else is showing tolerance towards immigrants’ native cultural patterns and a willingness to make accommodations. I think it says something that France has generations of Arabs who have never crawled out of poverty whereas in America there is no average income difference between an American who can trace his/her ancestry back to the Mayflower and an American who’s parents were born in Syria. It’s not that America is taking in all of the hard-working, industrious Middle Easterners and that France (for the rest of this, France = Europe) get only the lazy immigrants. France isolates it’s Arab immigrants. It makes it almost impossible for impoverished immigrants to assimilate. There’s no breaking in period, no training. France requires it’s immigrants to speak French fluently if they’re to receive any help from the State, there are no French as a Second Language classes for their children and expressions of the immigrants Islamic heritage is actively discouraged if not actually outlawed (didn’t I read somewhere that France was at least thinking about banning the niqab?). There’s no better way to ensure that a people will cling to their traditions than making it illegal to do so.
At least in America there’s no official language, meaning you don’t have to speak English to bring a slum lord to court. If your children don’t pick up English from their American friends (which they will*) there are ESL classes in public schools to help them. As a liberal atheist I may find the burka and niqab sort of demeaning to women, but as an American I realize it’s not my place to make Muslim women wear denim and tank-tops. The end result of all this is that for all real intents and purposes, the children of Muslim immigrants grow up to think of themselves as Arab-Americans. As opposed to the children of Muslim immigrants in France, who think of themselves as Arabs living in France. And that makes all the difference.
*Want to know why America doesn’t need to declare English as the official language of the country? It’s because any such law or amendment would be redundant. Despite whatever you may hear, children do not learn their mother tongue from their parents but from their friends. Sure, if a child grows up in a household that speaks Arabic exclusively, then yes, that child will learn to speak Arabic. However, if that child grows up surrounded by English speaking children, then that child will also naturally learn to speak English fluently. And in most cases, it’s English, the language of their peers, that the children will think of as their first language. And other than a few words and phrases, the grandchildren of Arab immigrants will speak English exclusively.
I know what you’re thinking, “but what if the children are kept from American kids by their parents?” All I can say is, “consider the Pilgrims”. Before landing on American soil, the Pilgrims fled England and settled in the Netherlands. Now, keep in mind that it’s hard to think of a more isolationist group than the Pilgrims (what other group leaves en mass to get away from a dominate culture?). In time, the Pilgrims left the Netherlands for what would become America because the Pilgrim children were growing up culturally Dutch. They spoke Dutch (even at home) and observed non-Pilgrim holidays. In fact, they were so enmeshed in the Dutch culture that many of them were even willing to have fun instead of just working until they collapsed in pain and exhaustion and then quietly dying.

March 30, 2007 Posted by | Religion, Society | 1 Comment

God Redefines Definition of “Gay”

So, yesterday I ran across a news article that makes me glad I have a blog.

Do we all remember Rev. Ted Haggard? Yeah, for awhile there life was pretty sweet for Teddy(bear) Haggard. Respected pastor, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, happy family man and petter of puppies (I’m assuming), Haggard had it all. Everything sort of came undone however when it came to light that Ted Haggard also enjoyed snorting meth off the hard dicks of male prostitutes. Just imagine how bad it would have been had he enjoyed snorting meth off the hard dicks of (mostly)female prostitutes.
Anyway, Haggard is back in the presses because, ta-dah, he’s now officially ex-gay. Leaving behind whether or not it’s possible to permanently and totally realign one’s sexual orientation, what’s really amazing here is that apparently Ted became straight after only three weeks of spiritual purification. Now, any respectable ex-gay organization (snort-ha) will tell you upfront that the dequeerification process will take upwards of three years. So, for Haggard to do it in less than a month is nothing short of a, well, miracle.
I’m not saying Mr. Haggard isn’t straight now. No matter how likely it is that he’ really the same old speed-freak homo he was when he was preaching Revelations and speaking in tongues (who probably zipped through Betty Ford over a long weekend) I won’t for a minute suggest that his remarkable transformation isn’t sincere. I mean, God forbid (probably literally) that the man lie about his “recovery” merely in a shallow attempt to recover his former comfortable social standing.
No, no. I’m above that. Well, sort of. Not really. Okay, anyway. There’s a phenomena at work here that I’ve noticed runs rampant throughout the fundamentalist members of our great nation. Every so often a member of the illustrious inner circle gets himself into some trouble and instantly the remaining Pontiffs of Piousness rush to his defense. In doing so, they abandon any grasp they might have had upon reality. When Congressman Foley got into some hot water over what he wanted to do with pages in a tub of hot water, his buddy James Dobson rushed to his side by arguing, “I just hate to think that we’re approaching the point where a person is judged by the values he claims”. That might not be word-for-word correct, but that’s the sentiments he expressed on his radio show back in October.
And now, with Ted Haggard we have Rev. Tim Ralph claiming that “[Haggard] is completely heterosexual. This is something he discovered. It was the acting-out situations where things took place. It wasn’t a constant thing.”
If I’m reading that correctly, it means that I can claim to be a vegetarian and only “act” at being a carnivore when I eat meat (which is every meal). It also means, apparently, that in God’s eyes, I’m not a sinner. I’m just a highly accomplished performance artist who sins in the situations where temptation takes place. But God’s cool, he knows my sinning isn’t a constant thing. So, thanks for that.

February 13, 2007 Posted by | Religion | 1 Comment