Sunday, July 19, 2009

Faithful of Allentown – Why don’t they like us anymore?

"Well we are living here in Allentown
And they're closing all the factories down…" Billy Joel
(Or more appropriately these days – They’re closing all the churches down...)

The opening title is I think from the POV of Parishioners of 47 Allentown Diocese churches closed in the past year. In typical arrogant RC archaic hierarchical, myopic management style, the outgoing Bishop Cullen cleaned all the shit off his desk – 47 Parishes in time for his mandatory retirement at age 75. The new guy will only have to worry about disposal of real estate assets and sending the cash to Rome - cushy job assignment. I hear he is a scholar like the pope.

Allentown Diocese Church Closings – Photo Gallery

An article today from Allentown about how some are getting along in the new compressed, condensed parish compactor solution – squeezing two or three parishes together with a part time priest to say one or two masses a week on an itinerate schedule commuting from parish to parish to say those masses – “modern RC management styles 101” to the layman.

Appeals and a prayer

I can see where a lot of ethnic RC churches should be closed as church attendance dwindles among the young. A lot of these old ethnic enclaves are sometimes situated within a block or two of each other. I see that demographic aspect of it from my own youth in Philly. The rest of it is management from the top, from the local bishop, from the local Cardinal, from the cleric in Rome deciding the fate of parishes in upstate Pennsylvania over his cappuccino at a sidewalk café in Rome.

My cynicism, my empathy for the little people dispatched from life long places of worship does not change anything. As sometimes happens lately, I was reading a different religious story when someone sent the article today from Allentown.

My concept, my feel for religion, comfortable feel for faith is for local control. In that sense I took part of my opening title from an article from a Baptist Pastor with his small congregation in Virginia.

Sermon Criticism- Why don’t they like us anymore?

Dan Kimball’s book, They Like Jesus But Not The Church, is a case-study of several young adults Kimball interviewed. Basically, they consider themselves to be spiritual, but not religious — just like our famous book from the 1970s. But here’s what they don’t like about the church. These are the actual chapter titles in Kimball’s book –

• The church is an organized religion with a political agenda.
• The church is judgmental and negative.
• The church is dominated by males and oppresses females.
• The church is homophobic (meaning, the church fears and/or hates homosexuals)
• The church arrogantly claims all other religions are wrong.
• The church is full of fundamentalists who take the whole Bible literally.
Apparently the Baptists have some of the same problems in attracting youth, among others to gather in church on Sunday, same as the Catholics.

Perhaps ”we need fresh moral guidelines to address the structural and systemic sinfulness of our time”. *

That being said Pastor Chuck Warnock of Chatham Baptist Church in Chatham, VA also has a bit of a visionary thing that might be applied to keeping some church complexes in Allentown open – to raise cash to pay electricity etc. Pastor Warnock looks to the past of self sufficiency – local control – as was the case in Celtic monasteries of the past.

The Abbey Church

It is not necessarily a solution but I think of old rectories, convents, school halls and say why can’t they be used to make a few bucks as youth hostels, stopping off places for traveling the road in an increasingly budget conscience America.

Churches used to be the center of real neighborhoods and real communities - not virtual. In the past half century of Wharton Spreadsheet Mythology, they, along with people, have merely become penciled in figures in some distant, hands off, no accountability, front office chancellery.

As the human culture becomes more global in orientation, the more local traditions need to be retained, maintained and reframed to offset the new global madness.

* John Mark Ministries - Book Review

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Holy Vagina - the Feminine Side of God

I started writing this article last week but stopped. I had to do some follow up research. It is best to feel comfortable with what you are quoting. It started with a quote from Father Kennedy’s Pentecost homily. Father Kennedy was talking about the Gnostic thing again. The Gnostic movement in ancient times seems to have written a large portion of the Jesus story from a philosophical point of view. Writings and large parts of those concepts were suppressed for over fifteen hundred years only to be rediscovered or at least partially documented in the finding of the Nag Hammadi scrolls in Egypt in the late forties.

There is a quote from the Father Kennedy’s Pentacost homily that quotes a radical theologian Diarmuid O'Murchu who kind of dumbfounded me when he referred to the Holy Spirit as “she”.

Peter Kennedy's Homily May 30-31 Pentecost Sunday 2009
O'Murchu in his book
Catching up with Jesus
speaks of the Holy Spirit as an awakening presence that breathes where she wills, ever generating new breath thoroughly in human and planetary consciousness. Literalist Christianity created by Constantine gave source to the Holy Roman Empire, a totalitarian regime that would rule Europe with an iron-fist for over a thousand years. In the Western world the institutional authority of the church became the principal means whereby the state created political and social order. Gnostic spirituality throughout history has ceaselessly exposed literalist religion as a pernicious source of ignorance and division.

The Second Vatican Council, the vision of John XXIII which he referred to as a new Pentacost has yet to become a reality. It is time to awaken to the original message of the early Christians to the truth of Ultimate Reality, that is, the Oneness of Creation infused by the presences of Love itself, that is, there is only God.

I looked up this O’Murchu guy and he is quite off the wall and or futuristic in some of his theories. He is not afraid to engage in the modern world – this twenty first century world – not unlike the Episcopalians in Anaheim these past few days.

Is the Holy Spirit Female? Is my opening title word vagina offensive, strange, to you? For thousands of years before Christ, the power and ancient wisdom of God before Christianity was embodied and universally recognized in the earth goddess figure both as an idol and as a mental concept. Little wonder the sacred wisdom, Hagia Sofia, went underground for close to seventeen hundred years after Constantine and his Army Bull Cult took over the reins of the Christian religion to advance his personal glory and empire.

No doubt many of the bishops, imprisoned in the Emperor’s summer palace at the Council of Nicea, had to send us a message here in the future to say that yes, God has a feminine side and it is the Holy Spirit. It makes sense. It has balance. It is needed to counterbalance the present male godless capitalist system that would enslave us forever as it marches forth at present to destroy all our humanity.

The American Episcopal church seems to be dealing with reality, first with women ordinations and women as bishops and now extending that openness to the gay community. The American Episcopal church has its feet firmly planted in the twenty-first century of the common era of mankind. The Holy Spirit I think was in California this week. The rest of the established Christian order of things, especially the RC church, seems permanently stuck in the dark ages – time to follow a beacon of light from California.

I have to agree with the twenty-second century thinker and theologian Diarmuid O'Murchu that the Hold Spirit is a “she”. She is very much the feminine side of the Patriarchal God of the past four thousand years. She has been in her prison. She is a prisoner no more.

A new age of the Holy Spirit of God is upon us. Wake up and smell the roses!

God be praised!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Episcopal Leap of Faith

The Episcopal Church in America has decided that gay people are suitable to be ordained in their church. This is of course in direct conflict with the established order, CoE, Church of England, old order of things.

Episcopal vote on gay clergy widens Anglican split

There are a lot of patriarchal CoE types on the planet who still believe that women are only good for making babies or serving as doormats. Gays are not even part of that abuse filled talking point. Their Old Testament belief system is in direct conflict with the living real Jesus who if in human form would toss these haters of portions of humanity, these tossers into hell so to speak. Whatever.

The CoE with its Queen or is it the Welsh guy as Archbishop of Canterbury is going to have to organize the established church to face reality – It might be a good management model for the tossers who run the RC church to observe. I predict boutique divisions being formed and sanctioned under the dusty crown of the CoE head office brand to suit the out of daters, mad haters, of the old male "straight" order of things.

The American branch in its two hundred year experiment of independence, freedom and recognition of human rights has stated as of yesterday that Gays can be ordained. It does not sanction Gay Marriage. In fact I think the Secular World in America will sanction that decades before the religious types do.

In any case the bottom line is that Americans, religious or not, will not tolerate discrimination.

God bless our Republic!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jan Brewer - Current Cracker Governor - Arizona

Arizona is prone to lunatics. Given the heat and the weird mix of civilization in the sprawling so called valley of the sun in Phoenix, its been a while. Arizona is due for another cracker and or crack pot governor. Last one was Evan Mecham and they had to impeach him, he was that bad. Among many other things, he dissed and cancelled the new federal Martin Luther King Jr. birthday holiday. Phoenix lost the Superbowl with the crazy governor MLK thing because the rest of the country was like in realityville man.

The current Governor succeeded Gov. Napolitano, a human being, who got moved up to Secretary of Homeland Security because of the need for talent in Washington D.C.. No Lieutenant Govs in AZ. Brewer was Secretary of State (?) and legal successor.

This new gov, just passed, signed off on a many barriers to women and their wombs abortion bill that Janet had vetoed several times.

Arizona governor approves abortion constraints

Considering that the state legislators get $24,000 per year, in terms of legislation you get what you pay for.

Having lived and worked under slave like conditions in Arizona, a fascist “right to work” state, where human rights let alone women’s rights are still a distant dream in the future, the politicians there only serve their rich contributors. Senator Kyl was the best lawyer money could buy when he was a lawyer. He is now the best Senator money can buy. John McCain, who has never had a private sector job, and part of the barbecue ribs and champagne ruling class, had never met a common ordinary citizen before he met Sarah Palin.

While Sarah is in hip waders and waiting for the straight jacket to be properly fitted at Saks, the boys down at the “C” Street "Church" (and occasional brothel) should be checking out the presidential timber potential of Jan Brewer, current cracker republican governor of Arizona.

I can only imagine what draconian legislation is now being drawn up to restrict the gay community in Arizona. If Arizona starts a trade mission with Borneo to import exotic hardwoods, one guess is that the wood will not be used for any ordinary barbecues. What's the fuss and sweat guys? It's only dry heat!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Politics of Reality

There seemed to be a great energy in the meeting of Barack Hussein Obama and Benedict XVI in the Vatican yesterday. The “superstar” handle that John McCain’s campaign so cynically labeled him is true to some degree both home and abroad. You heard about him. Now you get a chance to see him in person.

There is a certain magic when virtual images on the TV come into reality focus and in person. Of course the real of “reality” is sometimes totally different from what you expected to see as compared with the “virtual”. How tall is he? His face and body are three dimensional. There is a handshake and there is a real person on the other end of your hand.

This is not meant to be a PR handout for the White House. It is meant to illustrate that what you see is sometimes not what you get. I read an interesting article from Time magazine again this morning that I read last night. Some of the parts that I skimmed over last night stuck out in a more pronounced way in the light of day.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s article accenting the Presidential visit with the Pope, was a thought or a frame of reference that I have not seen before from her angle on the RC church and its forty year campaign in America to uphold authoritarian rule and its mixing politics with religion. Ms. Townsend states that Barack Obama is more in line with the thoughts of the average American Catholic than the Pope is.

Without a Doubt
In truth, though, Obama's pragmatic approach to divisive policy (his notion that we should acknowledge the good faith underlying opposing viewpoints) and his social-justice agenda reflect the views of American Catholic laity much more closely than those vocal bishops and pro-life activists…
Upon rereading I decided that parts I skimmed over were possibly more important than I originally had thought. In particular:
But there they part ways. Politics requires the ability to listen to different points of view, to step into others' shoes. Obama might call it empathy. While the pope preaches love, listening to the other has been a particular stumbling block for the Catholic hierarchy (as it is for many in power). The hierarchy ignores women's equality and gays' cry for justice because to heed them would require that it admit error and acknowledge that the self-satisfied edifice constructed around sex and gender has been grievously wrong. Before he became John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla had a telling all-or-nothing formulation:

"If it should be decided that contraception is not an evil in itself then we should have to concede frankly that the Holy Spirit is on the side of the Protestant Churches."
Archbishop Wojtvla’s remark if quoted correctly says two disturbing things to me:

The idea that “we” are right and the Protestants are wrong. Acting on an informed conscience in general is against the authority of the hierarchy of the Church.

Two, that compromise, that SOME contraception is evil and that separating the pill, condoms etc. from the many tentacled abortion issue was unthinkable and undoable – that compromise was not possible in the black and white mind of the Polish Archbishop.
That attitude has resulted in some heinous decisions. Most famously, in the lead up to the encyclical "Humane Vitae" in 1968, an advisory body of theologians and laity empaneled by the pope advised that the church should reverse its position on birth control and concede that the issue should be a question for morality and for science. But authority—not truth, not love—prevailed: Pope Paul VI, listening to the advice of Wojtyla, disagreed with the majority of these advisers, who had voted 69 to 10 for change, fretting that to change this position would weaken his authority.
One of the ten, Wojtvla, had pushed his ideas over the majority view and onto the pope with a mail order priest’s diploma to decide the next forty years of debate on issues that I believe Ms. Townsend has stated elsewhere on things not mentioned in the bible.

One thing I want to note upon hearing of this quote for the first time – from its sinking in. When looking at the future John Paul II as advisor to Paul VI, I feel I must say that his statement above about the Holy Spirit is a disappointment. That the Polish Archbishop’s siege mentality probably contributed to the thing that “Humanae Vitae” has in common with other religions in time of seize and fear and in the mind of the Archbishop from behind the then “Iron Curtain”.

Unrestricted conception as described and protected by the ideologues of the RC church to this day reminds me of the polygamy sanctioned in Islam and Mormonism in times of siege and fear of war in the past. Both Islam and Mormons are stuck with the embarrassment of the wrong decision being made in the past.

Historically speaking, “Humanae Vitae” is a similar embarrassment to Roman Catholics. The need to produce more sons and future armies as in John Paul II’s case was no doubt to accommodate his private and nationalist dreams of future war on the Polish Communist state.

John Paul II was almost right. The Holy Spirit does favor individual informed conscience in the Secular but not necessarily Protestant state.

Friday, July 10, 2009

"C" Street Prayer House - Wash. D.C.

Amidst the current Republican sex scandals in both Washington and South Carolina there seems to be a cult like secret Christian prayer group located in a house on “C” Street in Washington D.C.. It, a former convent and still having a tax free religious status, is home to some of the most conservative fundamentalists in Congress.

In all fairness I have seen on TV how Senator Chuck Schumer shares a townhouse with three other Senators and commutes home on weekends. I don’t know about the prayer breakfast thing with liberal Chuck and company.

The house on “C” Street acts as a dormitory of sorts for Senators and Congressmen who cannot afford on their stingy little salaries to maintain a family home in Washington and their distant home voting base.

I have heard the cable talk show host Joe Scarborough mention that he had to quit his house seat in order to attend to family personal matters related to his being away from home 200 nights a year. I have done some long distance commuting and I feel for people who have to make that part of a work/home/family situation.

It has been noted in some places that Washington and its politics were a lot nicer in the forties, fifties and sixties. Politicians were not so nasty or so divisive as when their families went to the same church or their children went to the same school or they belonged to the same D.C. country club as their opponents in the other party. I think that had to do with economics. Washington is such an expensive place to live now.

All this being said in the interest of fairness, there seems to be something a little crazy the way some of the guys in the “C” Street Prayer House are acting.

Senator John Ensign of Nevada is a current resident of the “C” Street Prayer House. He recently admitted to adultery and has not resigned. There seems to be a lot of weird side effects of his adultery. There would seem to be bribe and or hush money being paid out by Ensign’s parents to his former piece on the side. Well, it just gets more thick with layer upon payer with deceit and corruptness of moral character.

Governor Mark Sanford had mentioned the “C” Street association in his recent confession of sin and adultery. Apparently he got Christian counseling to help him stop his sin in Argentina. Sanford had been a resident of the dorm when he was a House Rep before becoming Governor.

Presiding over this “Prayer House” is Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma with the title of deacon. To his credit Doctor Coburn (He is a medical doctor) used to practice medicine on weekends in Oklahoma when he flew back from Washington as a Congressman when he was a member of the lower house.

The deacon we know gave counseling to Governor Sanford and now there is a question if Coburn helped Ensign write a letter to his mistress trying to break off the affair. Senator Coburn – ever hear the line about jack of many trades = master on none?

The liberal press is trying to make the prayer house out to be some sort of secret fundie cult prayer cell but I take the whole thing on face value. Sometimes a bunch of fundie nuts living together is just that – a bunch of fundie nuts (with an occasional fruit mixed in). Whatever.

I am enjoying seeing the holier that thou fundamentalist right wing melt down now that the GOP is in exile. What new, perhaps Green party, will replace the GOP in the future elections?

I am not pleased with the present administration or his party and its unlimited bailout to the rich and their failed banking system that helped destroy the present world economy.

I miss the cloth coated republican days of Gerald Ford and Bob Dole.

Boy, what a mess many of us have in our economics, politics, religions and personal lives these days. Perhaps it is a good time for real prayer.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Gay Miracle by Jesus - Luke 7:2 - ?

And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die.Luke 7:2

And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.Matthew 8:6

There are of course differences in translations of the synoptic gospels, Matt, Mark, Luke and I almost always go back to the King James Version of the gospels believing that in the manner they were assembled and translated from the ancient languages to have been a fair distribution of meaning of these considered to be sacred Christian texts.

Some things over the years I remember and reassemble in my mind to clarify later.

I do remember as I have mentioned earlier that some gospels passages have stuck in my mind over the years from my youth and having been read in church. And in those fairly ancient days of the fifth and sixth decade of the twentieth century, I remember a phrase that struck a note back then and now I feel in my heart the time to speak.

The passage in Luke 7 was about a Roman Centurion who asks Jesus for a healing of his servant “who was dear unto him”. Of course the gospels and all ancient histories lack a great deal of detail that we in the modern age demand and expect from writing. But that phrase has stuck in my ears and memory until yesterday when a thought gelled in my psyche.

Matthew has the same story line in its eighth chapter but the Roman’s slave and or servant is said to have “palsy” and was greatly tormented. No mention of a bond of affection and or respect for the life of the servant/slave. Of course some of these translations are many times trying to empathize with the culture of the times.

Luke I have been taught was a Greek. As such his Greek outlook and Greek culture seem to not be ashamed to add a note of affection between master and slave. Perhaps the dying slave had been a tutor, a second father, or he, and I presume he here, might have been his lover. We will never know.

If you believe in the basic message of Jesus, then Apostles or later disciples who wrote down the early oral traditions of the early Christian cult aimed for accuracy and perhaps on occasion feelings. Greco-Roman culture did not draw lines so tightly and meanly between sexual practices as we now do in very recent history.

The use of the story of a Roman Centurion could have been a later add-on to make the gospels more user friendly to Greeks and Romans after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.. I think rather than being an add on, it seems the real thing because it speaks of faith and a hierarchy of principles and commands and blind discipline that held the Roman Empire together for so long. I think it possible and probable that Judaism for a Roman army officer was a local religion and a local “god” that demanded attention and respect. After all, it says the Centurion built a synagogue. Not perhaps kosher on his part so much as trying to win the hearts and minds of a captive people.

Jesus in his ever widening circle of the people, real people, outside the sham world of the Temple crowd in Jerusalem appealed to all levels of humanity and to their individual needs and cultures.

I believe that this curing of a “servant dear unto him” may have been an unbiased act of love by Jesus, by God to a gay couple. It was perhaps a gay miracle by Jesus.

I say all this because an energy hit me yesterday. Someone kindly forwarded an article in USA today about some conservative bishop in the Church of England ranting his hate directly at gays and indirectly at women ordinations etc. It is a wonder how these conservatives in the COE/Episcopal Church can eliminate 50% of humanity in the form of women and say another 5% in Gays. Rip the church apart and live in the mistaken belief that 45%, a trimmed budget of Jesus’ Church, is a queer fulfillment of Jesus’ command to preach to all nations. I do not believe Jesus left a list of the select few in those nations that should listen and or be saved.

So, the article in USA Today was negative energy created in the universe by a very smug blind cleric. Well the negative energy hit me and it knocked me in the head and I remembered the thing about the Centurian and his “gay” servant that I had filed away for some time. The world and or universe may be on its way back to balance now that the Centurion and his servant are now out of the closet so to speak. Thank you Bishop for the kick in the ass.

Jesus loves us all, every one of us.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Communion with People

I was moved by what I read in the following homily by Father Kennedy of St. Mary’s community in Brisbane. His words begin to trace a human experience and are about a former parishioner that chose to not follow him down the street away from the old church. The parishioner has cerebral palsy and lives in an assisted care center.

Peter Kennedy - Homily - Sunday 14th June
Now the people at Lotus House have experienced physical, psychological and sexual abuse in church and government run institutions - abuse they have never been able to fully escape. I think that one of my reasons for being apprehensive about going into Lotus House was that I, an official religious person, might not be all that acceptable to the victims of such systematic abuse and yet the opposite happened - people smiling a welcome, putting out their hand to touch mine…

Again there was no meal but there was for myself as I walked away a sense of Eucharist/communion that left me promising myself that I must return to Lotus House - not for their sake but for mine…

During my conversation with Michael whenever I mentioned God he fell about crying, tears welling up in his eyes and I knew I was communing with mystery.

This community was accused of "not having any faith over there" and our celebration of the sacraments and the Eucharist were suspect, because institutional Catholicism demands that we can only come to the truth through the

divinely appointed brokers, totally submissive to their doctrines and correct formulas - the opposite of course is more likely to be the truth.

For it is clear from the gospel that the poor, the disadvantaged, the victims of injustice, the differently abled, all those excluded on the grounds of gender/sexual preference are the very ones that the historical Jesus welcomed to his table time and time again.

To paraphrase Dominic Crossan, "The last supper never happened but it is always happening".

So on Tuesday I understood what Crossan meant and that I didn‟t have to explain my Theological difference to Michael or to anyone about the Eucharist as given to us by the divinely appointed brokers, with their demand for validity, that we use the right formula for Baptism or only the ordained Priest has the power to make Jesus present in the Eucharist.

I don‟t have to fall into that trap anymore because I now know where to find a truly valid experience of Eucharist/communion…

In some cosmic sense, I believe that a true early Christian sense of fellowship, love and social earnestness are expressed above in what I feel might be called a living gospel – good news – by and for the people of God in a small distant community.

It is stories like the above that sparked the early Christian movement hearing stories from a distance that they believed, absorbed into their lives and began to commune with the energy of Jesus, a gift of God, of himself, to humanity.

Christianity needs a rebirth of spirit and outlook and focus.

Twenty first century western culture is corrupt - is as bankrupt of values and love as any of the grand totalitarian regimes, new man made religions, that failed in the recent history of the last century.

The words of Jesus did not destroy the Roman Empire. When the dust settles on fallen empires, the words of Jesus persist in the hearts of the faithful and the Word lives on.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Real Saints of Australia

Soon to be excommunicated Father Peter Kennedy of St. Mary’s in Exile in Brisbane gets my vote for future sainthood and in his own church. God Bless him!

In any case he would not be the first religious excommunicated by a cracker bishop intent on upholding strict discipline in the ranks. One pending RC saint managed to get herself excommunicated over miscommunication with her bishop in her time.

The above photo of Blessed Mary MacKillop, soon to be the first native born Australian saint, is waiting for her third miracle.

Bathersby, the archbishop, is merely cleaning off his desk before retirement in two years time of old paperwork. Efforts to defrock ahead of the curve Father Kennedy have been going on for over twenty years. Previous bishops have not tried so hard to please the Vatican.

But then this is an old case file on the desk of Cardinal Ratszinger, then John Paul IIs hatchet man in the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. Lots of files left on Joe’s desk from the past and into the present. Makes you wonder why they elect somebody so old or was it fear that he knew where too many skeletons are buried or in the closet in the Vatican? Oh well.

Besides Blessed Mary MacKillop, let us not forget Joan of Arc who was excommunicated by the English bishops only to have the black mark taken off her record a few decades later in spiritual or was it political regret? In any case it would have saved a lot of fire wood. It only takes one bishop to excommunicate and, as in Joan of Arc’s case, another bishop not unlike a mere bishop of Rome to rescind an order of excommunication.

The church doesn’t always know the real thing when they see it. I think Peter Kennedy is the real thing. Like the historic model with Joan of Arc, Bathersby and his crowd (including Joe) don’t seem to know Christmas from Bourke Street as they say in parts of Oz.

Mary MacKillop’s nineteenth century RC bishop backed off and rescinded his excommunication. Father Kennedy officially or unofficially in his church will continue his work, his labor, his sheparding in the truest sense of the Message of Jesus and the Christian faith to the members of his congregation.

There is something so stubborn and frontier like in the nature of some Australians to blaze a true path to settlement or to the future that I greatly admire.

Maybe Mary MacKillop’s third miracle to achieve sainthood will have to do with the softening of the stone hearts of the RC hierarchy intent on destroying true good works.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

British Embassy - Hostages - Iran

I had a momentary flashback to 1979 and the seizing of three hundred American hostages in the American Embassy in Tehran.

The photo above is a documented picture of an American hostage from those days and the guy in the circle is allegedly Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his salad days of local Iranian politics.

The headline and words in the CNN piece below did not immediately clarify the situation to me.

Britain blasts arrest of embassy staffers in Iran

The arrest of local staff members at the British Embassy in Iran is "harassment and intimidation of a kind which is quite unacceptable," British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Sunday.

"About nine" staffers have been affected, he said, adding that some had already been released.

"We have protested in strong terms directly to the Iranian authorities about the arrests that took place yesterday," but there has been no response, Miliband said.

Iran's government-backed Press TV said earlier on Sunday that eight local British embassy staffers had been seized for their role in the unrest following the disputed presidential elections on June 12.

My main complaint about this piece of “Journalism” above is that it does not fully follow the old rules of newspaper journalism and answer the basics of who, what, how, where and why and being addressed in the first paragraph of the news story.

“Local staff members” does not say if the local staffers are British Citizens or not.

As I usually do, I turned to a British news source to get a fuller, tighter, more professional body of the story and situation.

Iran arrests UK embassy staff
David Miliband, the foreign secretary, has angrily refuted allegations that Iranian employees of the British embassy in Tehran played a role in the post-election protests of the past two weeks.

In the latest in a series of spats between the two countries, Iran detained eight or nine local embassy staff for playing a "significant role" in the unrest, which has seen serious clashes between demonstrators and security forces.

Miliband, speaking from a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Corfu, said the government was "deeply concerned" at the arrests. "This is harassment and intimidation of a kind that is quite unacceptable," he said. "We want to see them released unharmed."

The other side, the Iranians, who are not unlike the Chinese in 1971 before Nixon’s visit in 1972 – their dictionaries and handbooks on western protocol are decades out of date.

Words are important. Not everybody on the planet talks urban street. An old fuddy duddy such as myself sent an E-mail to CNN or one of the mainstream media because they had called the actress Loretta Young an actor in her obit when she passed in 2000.

Other people may have decided that actor is good word, not actress, for a female. I do not agree. I thought it disrespectful and or inept on the part of the MSM. Lorette Young lived and displayed her talents in another age in which she was called an actress. Modern day PC words did not fit her obituary. Just because I had not gotten with the new asexual word of “actor”, does not mean that I liked or understood it as part of the obit.

We should do not presume that headlines in an American News Source are correct, or interpreted correctly and or reliable especially when the other side, or its leadership is still in a permanent unmovable 1979 AD western moment frame of mind (like Iran).

I doubt that we can be drawn into another Iranian Hostage situation even though it would suit the Supreme Thug (wearing a so-called mantle of God) and his cronies especially his grape peeling sycophant Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

I doubt that the “bunker busters” are at this moment on Air Force transports to Israel.

I am mildly concerned that a major story on a major American News source in its opening vagueness might escalate a propaganda war on both sides of this potentially hostile global conflict.

Obama is a lawyer and I expect him to put negotiations first or foremost. If that does not work – well – let’s not go there.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Death of a Legend in La La Land - Michael Jackson

Great artists are allowed their eccentricities.

Without a doubt Michael Jackson was a stellar example of talent and worthy of icon mania. His visuals in music videos, an art form perfected at the height of his career, may be played for a thousand years. I can picture the “Thiller” video being played in space in 3009 AD or on a solar colony near Saturn.

The visual arts in video are sort of like the Greek statues of their day and they stayed around and were imitated and found a place in many a villa in the Roman Empire for centuries after their creation. Man, in his spirit, in his soul, recognizes artistic high watermarks on the common civilization brand. Michael was without a doubt one of those high watermarks of the present western and worldwide culture.

The human race turns on a dime and forgives the eccentricities of great artists. His eccentricities were many to say the least.

I was never fully evolved to accept Michael as the “It” of his generation. My generation was a little bit before in the fifties. I burned out on Rock and Roll in the late fifties as a child of five. I sort of yawned when the Beatles came along and ignored them until I discovered them as Muzak in an elevator in the late seventies. Etc.

Nobody, not even myself, could ignore the energy and creativity and breath of life that MJ’s talent exhibited.

I am somewhat taken aback by the power of the media or music or concerts to transmit that something and indiscernible quality of life of this age, these many short ages overlapping, of rock, pop, punk, metal and so on and so forth. The quality of this age I am not certain of. Only history will tell.

Of men and or women who makes hundreds of millions of dollars and can live in a luxurious bubble world and believe anything they want to and do anything they want to – one thing is certain – they can only believe or do anything for a short time and then there is - Death.

As for Michael, I find it ironic that his last days of life ended in La La Land, Los Angeles, known for its eccentricities and a place with the movie and music industry, a place not totally fixed in everyday reality. His preparations for the “next tour” seemed to be an appropriate, if untimely, place to exit life.

Michael Jackson, The King of Pop, has left the building.

I have to wonder if in the days and weeks and months to follow how many new urban legends and sightings, like that of Elvis, of the elusive, eccentric and talented Mr. Jackson will be created and transmitted by word of mouth and media to accent his recent passing.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gov. Mark Sanford - That Jimmy Swaggert Moment

My karma in life, if there is such a thing, is to not to judge others too hastily. God knows I am not perfect and that by creative (?) design. The variable at work in our evolution to perhaps keep improving the model line generation to generation is I think part of the grand plan of things.

With twelve years of black and white catholic education under my belt, it is difficult for me sometimes to break away from the mold and not be judgmental. Look at this fool Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina who has to go all the way to Argentina to schtupp a piece of ass on the side of his ( at this point ?) marriage.

I believe in karma within your own lifetime. What goes around comes around. Sanford was one of the choir of Pubs calling for Clinton to resign when he got caught in his marriage infidelity with a White House intern back when in the late nineties.

Had it not been for his , Sanford’s, holier than thou, family value attitude toward Clinton back when, I might feel for this fool right now.

The tears and please have pity on me show displayed at a poorly run news conference yesterday I think were staged to give time for the Governor to backtrack on whose credit card (his or the State of S.C.) paid for an expensive last minute excursion to his love shack in Buenos Aires. And if the ticket was booked way in advance for a discount, all the more proof of another lie. But don’t go there.

I am reminded of the TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggert who got caught with a prostitute way back when and I remember his crocodile tears about sinning but it was more about being caught than sinning. Anyway, that slag heap is still in the tax free God business these days but on a lower tier than he occupied in his prime.

Good, bad or indifferent I am not going to ask Sanford to resign. He should not for his lust but for his Republican Idol rhetoric about free markets and balanced budgets etc. There are a awful lot of South Carolinians out of work and in need of Unemployment Benefits that he, the Governor in his Republican Idol rhetoric, would keep from getting those federally funded extra benefits to survive. Mark Sanford’s privileged view of himself and his ruling white class bubble world is something separate and not equal with the dirty unwashed masses.

There I did it. I judged him at some level. Not very Christian of me. But then, I try to follow the ten commandments like the one about adultery. For me the ten commandments are a real living breathing thing and a challenge at times to uphold. For people like Sanford and Swaggert the Ten Commandments should be carved in stone and collect dust as decoration in some statehouse hallway.

Enough said.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Age of Chronic Luxury

The visuals. The visuals.
They all come quick.
A life of Visuals,
quick, quick, quick.
Incomplete as memory fades.
Always the taste and
the draw for more.

I suppose the
in Black and White,
a commercial
and Dina Saur - we
called her that - tee hee hee,
framed a magic moment,
boomer kids seemed to have
all the rag tag makings,
potential glory of a new
rich golden age.

Instead as it all turned out
it became a burb age,
a bubble age, a mindless
consuming age and
compared to the rest
of an unaware humanity -
we, the many, lived the good life
the high life - for a short time
in the America of
domestic tranquility.

It was a coming age, full of
promise, progress, a golden time,
an age yet to be sorted out.
Global awareness was only
in books in college bookstores.
And issues like race, sex, sexuality
had yet to struggle, come of age.
It was an age of chaos - the good
parts are yet to survive and lead us
elsewhere - but by and large and
for most of us it was an unprecedented
Age of Chronic Luxury.

Nothing in history
to compare with it - nothing
to compare it to -
the might of Detroit
and a Maytag
washing machine
and "Queen for a Day"
on the tube.
The decades on from the fifties
were sweet though in retrospect
in-complete. Those years had glamour
and simple sight - but little or
no long lasting soul.

The visuals in the beginning of
that age had a few companions,
radio, hi-fidelity, stereo
and not one but many local
daily hard copy news-papers.
When the age ended
with a crash so to speak, a muted thud,
only the noise and chatter,
cacophonic clatter dulled
virtual, not real, reality
- cable, e-pod, e-mail, mobile cell phones,
PCs, the Internet, tweeter -
as disinterested witness to it all.

A Tower of Babel reborn? Retorn with
a new dark age of chaos to follow?

The great charade of the big war,
Vietnam - some growing years,
and the estimated body counts -
we always won - we never lost a...
Mission statement to keep the anthill
threat of S.E. Asia over
there - it boosted GM stock.

"What's good for GM is (was) good
for America" then. Or at least that
is what the Wall Street mantra then spake.
A national treasury of gold, ideas, youth
- a whole generation wasted, misled,
misdirected - doped - spun - eventually
onto a pagan altar of deregulation
and temporary titanic paper profit?

(That and a moon walk to represent that
early decade or so. Anybody lately drink the
scientific wonder of that age? Tang!)

Fast forward, those other years to
the modern day - and in between (?)
Work. Work. Work.
Marriage, a mortgage, kids.
401(K) - retirement?

Where did all those golden
Boomer days go?
Who counts?
Upon reflection in a glass
or into a trash filled lake,
why does the rest of the
planet want beef
plastic credit and
power muscle cars?
Silly question silly fool.

And as the recent age of
chronic luxury collapses (here)
what is the legacy best? Left?
Shouting - argumentum
ad hominem - ad nasueum.
Hate Radio. Hate News.
Death to my domestic enemy!
My bubble world is superior
to yourrr bubble world!!!
(on a dying planet)

Whatever happened to God?
Is he retired - living in Vegas?

Where has the Republic gone?
The upper half (10%) of an
economy struggles to recover.
The bottom 90% is lost forever
in fifth world bliss
amidst empty factories and
empty office towers (for sale - cheap!).
It's the new economics -
Broken promises - unfulfilled dreams.
Plastic card idols and
the pursuit of fantasy
-the illusion or was it delusion
of a common man's world -
could not last - a temporary
half century long Camelot?

Lost. So many things amidst
the fading echo
and fading visuals - of time gone-
not properly managed
an unsustainable age
that no one questioned
this passing age
of chronic luxury.

What next?

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Neda! Voice!

I chose not to publish the picture of a twenty-six year old woman murdered on the streets of Tehran by the religious thug militia.

It is all over the net and YouTube. The picture of her dying, dead, and with blood pouring out of her mouth and nose onto her face, after being shot in the heart, is the face of Iranian justice today.

Her name – Neda – in the native language means Voice.

Her name is a rallying call to the protestors. We perhaps have our defining image of this historic moment, though somewhat gruesome, to match the man in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square in Peking twenty years ago.

I find it totally ironic that the religious thugs who run Iran and are forbidding foreign correspondents from covering the protests and the violence that followed a fixed election, that those western journalists would have already censored a graphic violence image and filtered it before going into the smug atmosphere of a couch potato American audience.

So it goes.