bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Uganda cleric shows gay porn film
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
I saw this this over at Pam's House Blend: New Atheists, Enlightened Religionists, and Fundamentalism.

To borrow an apt phrase from of all inappropriate places, given the subject matter, the Book of Common Prayer: Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Just to wrap up some recent events in a tidy little package, I thought I'd bring up the three topics near and dear to the hearts of our conservative brethren to the South: guns, gays, and God.

Some possibly surprising takes on the issues... )
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
In a comment to this post on Pam's House Blend, I discovered a new way to think about gay adherents to a religion that believes they are denied the salvation preached by that same religion [emphasis mine]:

A lot of what is mentioned in this article is commendable, though I think a case can be made that the greater service to gay LDS members would be to treat them as battered wives in abusive relationships they can't leave--and help them to get out.

For "LDS members" one can easily substitute "Catholics", or "Muslims", or members of any number of other religions.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Texas court rules against polygamist removals

As I suspected, the state of Texas was found to not have met its legal burden of proof necessary to justify the removal of over 400 children from their mothers.

Side note: the mention of "400 children" brings up one of my favorite Mondegreens:

Ya picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille
With 400 children and crap in the field
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Last night's post, about the Yearning for Zion polygamist debacle in Texas, drew a number of responses explaining a bit more about why it was deemed necessary to interfere with the operations of that particular sect.

Looks like my observation about the children being "introduced too soon to the sexual milieu which their parents inhabit" is in fact the focus of the investigation. What's worse is, and I did not know this until [livejournal.com profile] eggwards pointed it out, a number of the young men of the group are forced out -- excommunicated -- simply to reduce the competition and ensure an abundance of possible wives and a shortage of husbands. That is not conducive to loving relationships, polyamorous or otherwise, and the distinction between forced polygamy and polyamory needs to be made, unfortunately.

Still, the younger children, whose innocence has not yet been shattered by the realities of their mothers' early initiation into the mysteries of sexuality, are ill-served by removing them from their mothers. And the mothers are going to need a lot of help too, not to mention the young men so callously discarded by the sect.

Of course, the State of Texas has simply bitten off more than it can chew with regard to the logistics of placing hundreds of children into foster care, and I hope they can straighten this out without doing any more damage to these children than they already have.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
I've only been able to catch scattered fringes of the coverage from the Yearning for Zion polygamist compound in Texas. But from what I've seen, I find I have a lot of sympathy for the folks at the center of the case, however unsympathetic they may seem at first glance -- and not so much for the well-meaning but hopelessly bureaucratic folks who represent the State of Texas in this matter.

My take, cut for length... )

Bottom line: We need to keep the government out of the what must be dozens of bedrooms in the YFZ compound, in order to ensure they stay out of our individual bedrooms as well.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (socrates)
Why is religion the cause of so much hatred, warfare, and suffering on this planet of ours? And how does a nation that professes freedom of religion deal with zealots who believe their freedom of religion trumps everyone else's?

A little history and some select points of doctrine should make the answer obvious. )

In short, most religions are fundamentally incompatible with one another and with the notion of a civil authority to which their adherents must also be subject. But if the civil authority forswears enforcement of religious law, and the religions forswear the use of arms in their practice and proselytizing, that fundamental incompatibility can perhaps be reduced to an intellectual curiosity, rather than the menace it is to peaceful coexistence on this all-too-small planet of ours.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
The Episcopal Church has been hit with an ultimatum from the assembled Primates (national bishops) of the Anglican Communion, who met at Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania last month. Essentially, the document which that meeting produced orders the Episcopal Church to stop ordaining gay men and lesbians, stop blessing same-sex unions, and accept the oversight of foreign bishops when requested by individual churches who disagree with the ordination of women and other such matters.

The House of Bishops has written a response to this ultimatum, stating that to accede to this demand would be injurious to the Episcopal Church, not only because it violates its church law and founding principles, but most importantly because it is spiritually unsound, in that it encourages the Western tendency to break relationships.

Of course, the crowning irony is that all this is happening in a church that was created because the Pope wouldn't grant Henry VIII a divorce. Nevertheless, the House of Bishops have a point: if the whole reason for the Anglican Communion's existence is rejection of the authority of the Pope, of what benefit to the Anglican Communion as a whole is a re-imposition of a rigid hierarchy, only this time invested in the Archbishop of Canterbury or the reigning monarch?

No, I really think the Anglican Communion is better served by agreeing to disagree on some matters. And as a lapsed Catholic who has at several times considered being received into the Episcopal Church instead, I think turning the Anglican Communion into a parallel to the Roman Church benefits no one.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
I just finished viewing the first of three hours (!) of The Power of Nightmares, a 2004 BBC 2 documentary, which was linked in the comments to a post cited by [livejournal.com profile] poodler.1

I came away with a new perspective of how both sides in this War on Terror, the neoconservatives as well as the Islamists, deny reality in a quest to bring moral purity to the world. The common element of both the neocon and Islamist movements is that both do not trust the vast majority of people to behave in the common interest of society when given the freedom to behave as they wish, and so a myth must be created to wrest that freedom from the people.

This denial of reality and myth-building is shaping up not so much as the war between good and evil, but a battle between evil forces, each trying to stamp out what is good and right with the world to substitute their twisted notions of righteousness and take ultimate control.

My take is that the best purpose of religion is to convince people that their own interests are best served when they serve others, as in the Golden Rule (which is not "He who owns the gold makes the rules"). This has since time immemorial been twisted to serve dictators great and small. If that twisted mess is all that religion is nowadays, I have no problem with chucking it all and starting over. Life is too short to let clerics and politicians ruin it for everyone.

Suffer the little children indeed.

1I found the site that republished the documentary, One Planet One Nation, and did some research, and it appears that it is run by a non-profit corporation by the same name. Its domain is registered in Kelowna, BC, Canada, but its hosting provider is in Texas. Given the nature of the Internet and low-cost hosting, I find this not at all suspicious, and the documentary comes from an impeccable source (the original credits and copyright notice are preserved).
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
I spent much of today looking up resources on religious hatred -- specifically, Christian hatred of gay people and our relationships -- in response to a post from [livejournal.com profile] ciddyguy. I thought perhaps I'd also post the results of my research here in my own journal and see what folks think.

My first thought was to try out my trusty resource, the Skeptic's Annotated Bible, and go look up the contradiction between "He that is not with Me is against Me" and "They that are not against us are for us" in the New Testament, but I got sidetracked and ended up with some light reading courtesy of God Hates Shrimp.

First off, a rabbi talks out both sides of his mouth on Some Of My Best Friends Are Gay. I'm not sure how to refute anything he is saying other than to say that his interpretation of both the Bible and the founding documents of the USA necessarily differs from mine.

Next, and perhaps a little more germane to the discussion I was responding to, we have Jesus Would Be Ashamed Of You. The author even encourages ministers who have asked to cite his page, with attribution or without.

And just for laughs, Sex In Christ goes into great detail about the very acts that get religious authorities in such an uproar. (Despite the absence of photos on the site, I would still NOT consider this work safe.)

Oh, and here is the contradiction I was looking for in the first place: Who is for or against Jesus?. My point is that it makes a difference as to what the default position is (a fact which the commentator on the second "Christian Response" site chooses to ignore entirely). Sort of like the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" in American law.

Ah well, something to do on a lazy afternoon trying to recover from the "creeping crud" that has been making speaking a chore and singing well-nigh impossible.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
JESUS WANTS TO SEE SPIRITUAL
FRUIT, NOT RELIGIOUS NUTS


On the marquee in front of the Lutheran Church of Bothell, WA, yesterday on the way back from lunch. Unfortunately, when I stopped back this afternoon to take a picture, it had been replaced; presumably it was last Sunday's sermon topic.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Matt. 27:5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
Luke 10:37... Go, and do thou likewise.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
This post from [livejournal.com profile] elijoi links to a rant against the three "great religions" of the world -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- and states that any follower of one of these religions is dangerously insane. Having been raised Catholic, my first reaction was to take offense. However, I managed to take a mental step back and realize there's a kernel of truth in what this commentator has to say.

The problem with organized religion as I see it, is that it is all too often aimed at people who either cannot or will not think for themselves. Conversely, those who are raised in an organized religion and yet retain the ability to think for themselves must somehow cope with the inconsistencies and hypocrisy that seems inherent in churches today.

And yet there is some use for faith even in the face of its illogic. It is often a source of comfort for those who are left behind when someone is taken from us or even chooses to depart this world before their time. But at the same time it is not necessary to believe in a specific deity to tap into this source of comfort, for as long as one remembers the person they will be present in some sense even after their physical presence is no more.

But my personal rant -- I find no comfort in the platitude "It was God's will" that someone has died, especially under tragic or violent circumstances. I have come to the conclusion that in the mind of the person who says this, that God must be the ultimate sadist -- and it makes the person saying this into somewhat of a sadist too, whether he or she intends to be such or not. If, God forbid, you ever think you have occasion to comfort me with this phrase, just don't. Thank you.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
[T]oday's rigidly dogmatic Catholic Church has bred a generation of American Catholics many of whom, simply in order to be able to function in the real world, have had to learn to put oppressive theological dictates in their place – so much so that the very suggestion that their Church demands their absolute obedience (which of course it does) can be seen as "anti-Catholic"!
-- Bruce Bawer, Is America Anti-Catholic? [URL:http://www.brucebawer.com/rc.htm]

Yep, I think he's hit the nail on the head here. In a previous post I mentioned a seemingly contradictory doctrine of the Church that specifically allows for such dissent, and opined that it's essential for American Catholics to be able to do this because of the Church's disinclination to the notion of separation of church and state.

To be quite honest, the disinclination to separate church and state (or, in most cases, the inclination to force the two back together once separated) seems to be at the root of all the problems modern society has with religious fundamentalists of any persuasion, today particularly Muslim and to a lesser extent Christian. I discovered the essay quoted above after being steered to an essay dealing with fundamentalist Islam on the same site, Tolerating Intolerance: The Challenge of Fundamentalist Islam in Western Europe [URL:http://www.brucebawer.com/tolerating.htm]

Sometimes the intersection of Church and State is more than a stop light in downtown Rochester. It appears on the verge of being a threat to the Western way of life.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
I just wrote this as a response to a question in [livejournal.com profile] poodler's journal and thought I'd also post it here for the sake of my friends who don't necessarily read his journal.
What the Vatican doesn't want Catholics to know... )
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Two wholly unrelated things that happened this weekend:

Shocking developments... )

By the way, now that I've got your attention, the Empire Bears are holding a Summer Rendezvous in northern Pennsylvania at Oneida Camp and Lodge. Go ahead, check it out! ;-)
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
I've mentioned several times both here and in other media the fact that while most places in America subscribe to the notion of separation of church and state, Rochester (among others) has the intersection of Church and State. Here the intersection is a dead-end on Church with the Federal Building opposite along State, and City Hall nearby on Church. The actual (Presbyterian) church for which Church Street is named has long since been merged with a neighboring one and is now home to the Hochstein School of Music.

I bring this up because after looking up My Favorite Vegetarian Recipe on the People Eating Tasty Animals site, I noticed the same people now run a site called barf.org which stands for "Biblical America Resistance Front". On that site I read some of the goals of evangelical Christians in the USA with respect to building a government based on "Christian values", something I thought was explicitly prohibited by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. However, if they can get government to reduce dramatically its social programs in favor of "faith-based charities", they can make people dependent upon the church for their very survival, and more and more unwilling participants must toe the line.

This sort of activity, perpetrated by those often referred to as the Christian Right, is neither Christian nor right.
bigmacbear: Me squatting naked in the Miller River (naked)
Q. What's the difference between Michael Powell (chairman of the US FCC) and Janet Jackson's breast?
A. One is a big boob, and the other appeared on the halftime show of the Super Bowl.
;-)

I find the U.S. government's crackdown on "indecency" in the broadcast media to be as patently offensive, if not more so, than anything that could be said on the radio or shown on television that would run afoul of these new-found Puritans' blue noses. I think the move to fine individual stations large sums of money for airing program content not under their direct control is overbearing and comes uncomfortably close to shredding the First Amendment rights we all so rightly cherish.

'Nuff said.

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