Saturday, January 30, 2010

Gayest Game in Town - the Super Bowl?

The American game of baseball is the game of the masses. One of the reasons it matches the European and worldwide appeal in a sporting event category like soccer, is it’s simplicity and minimal amount of equipment – a ball, a glove, a baseball bat, a simple uniform.

American football is a game that needs a lot of expensive protective gear – crash helmet, shoulder pads, breakaway shirts and padded pants. Football in my father’s day was just a pigskin and a thin leather helmet. A distant relative in the 1920’s used to play professional major league football for the Frankford Yellow Jackets in Philly and made a whopping $25 a game. No steroids needed back then – just real old fashioned testosterone!

The modern American Gladiator sport needs sponsorship. $$$. $$$, whether from a public supported institution, high school, college, university or in the case of professional league - a hand in the taxpayers’ pockets. Special tax set ups, tax breaks, stadiums built with taxpayer’s hard earned tax dollars and for who – a bunch of upper middle class types who can afford the expensive season tickets -that you can only literally inherit like an aristocratic title. Then from the game, spectators drive immediately out of the city where the poor have paid for and built the stadium – and drive as quickly as possible back to the safety of gated white burbs. It is the American Way. (bow your heads)

As for who is the best in terms of teams, they have playoffs after playoffs until somebody is lucky enough to get to challenge one other in the biggest Pagan game of them all – the Super Bowl. I say pagan to be nice. Because if the truth be told, the Super Bowl is like the gayest thing around (but you didn’t hear that from me.) The game reminds me of the Pentagon with its cost overruns and a bunch of generals with a thousand medals on their chests telling the world the best way to mistreat humanity on the other side of the globe. (a game plan?)

I don’t watch the Super Bowl in general. It’s a young thing, a party thing, a neighborhood, pub atmosphere thing where gluttony and drunkenness while shouting for your favorite team is a proactive copy of a New Year’s Eve party. Not in my league anymore for entertainment or ability to drink a third rate swill posing as beer from BUD – now a foreign owned company.

As for rooting for millionaires in modified male drag costumes, it just doesn’t make sense. The cost overruns at the Pentagon are kinda like what they now pay show biz performers – so called athletes for performance these days. It is an anachronism out of the real old days of real American prosperity. Hell, these days, even Obama is stuck with a used Oval Office rug from W because things are so bad economically for some. (a tattered rug, by the way, with a few holes from someone chewing on it)

They have got the reality shows on TV these days. Why do we need sports? It used to be the only excuse guys had to touch one another in our very homophobic past.

Of course, there is the camaraderie and the slapping of the butts and the hugging but the more I look at American football as a spectacle, it is like one big game of frottage, French for, Urban Dictionary for – dry humping. (the new rage for kids who have no access to sane birth control)

So the TV networks pay billions of dollars to put on this annual circus created in the middle of the cold war, sell thirty second commercials for millions of dollars and most of the commercials are for the traditional male only things of cars, beer and products delivered by bikini clad teenagers.

The commercial advertising end is something out of a thirty year ago fantasy male magazine called Playboy. Of course it is now an American tradition. I should get with the message and pretend I is a good loyal A-merican. Nothing more apple pie than the Super Bowl dude! Yeah right. And or apples treated with DDT?

So in the mood of American myth about what is right, wholesome, kosher about the American myth in the middle of an economic depression - they want to use the beers commercials as a setup and prelude to send a subtle PC message to women that abortion is not pro-life. A women’s right to choose the use of her own body is a sin. A “pro-life” commericial – how wholesome. How PC (far right) to present it, fully incensed, in the High Holy ceremony of the American Sports Pagan Temple of American Myth!

This far right Christian religionist/political message is an acceptable message to sell along with the alcohol, corn ships, and Pizza Hut? Get with the Far Right Christian fundamentalist program girls. It is the only Christianity allowed by liberal CBS these days? Taking $ide$ boys?

No, but seriously folks, the Super Bowl is like the gayest game in town. Queer eye for jocks - max. It is a bubble fantasy, a Halloween for adults with costumes, gluttony and drunkenness, the adult orgy version of that children’s fantasy holiday.

On one level, a game is just a game dude. On another level, the guys and gals with season tickets are sitting at home using the Super Bowl as some sort of High Latin Mass of White approval, a reaffirmation of themselves in the universe. Sitting there and along with a 1955 illusion of white cold war America with Dwight Eisenhower’s, all male, all white heterosexual pro-nuclear war cabinet in charge, Mormons and all. (the G.O.P. – Gay Ole Party?)

Pass the chips and dip please.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Cathedral Spaces - St. John Divine NYC

In walking distance, it is maybe eight or nine blocks from the extreme northern end of Central Park. It is the crown on top of the so-called fashionable upper west end of Manhattan. It is the southern boundary of the Columbia University campus. I am of course talking about the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine - 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, New York City.

All sorts of adjectives and descriptions for this unfinished mish mash of styles, Romanesque and Gothic. The Nave is 600 feet long, the size of two American football fields laid end to end. It is second only in size to St. Peter’s in Rome. I am not certain where that big church in the Ivory Coast fits in, in terms of size, volumes etc.

This perhaps quiet, unforgotten gem of New York City architecture has been in building mode in spurts and stops since 1892. Many say that this seat of the Episcopal Bishop of New York is a dodo bird of sorts. It defies description but its internal space is why I am writing about it. One brief building period in the middle eighties to middle ninties added fifty feet (one third) of the Southwest bell tower in first photo above. It will not be finished in my lifetime.

I first encountered this behemoth structure in the middle of an May rain storm over thirty years ago. Getting out of the rain was indeed a pleasure but I have not stepped into any other such a magnificent space since. I have been in Notre Dame in Paris and only have a vague memory of it except that I thought it rather plain for all the hype. The average tourist never makes it here unless on a tour bus or religious bus tour package. It is as hidden a treasure to native New Yorkers as it is to the accidental tourist who, like me, literally stumbles upon its sheer space and audacity of being.

I have not been there since the fire and the smoke damage that required extensive and expensive cleanup. Less smoke damage would have occured if they has broken the stained glass to vent the fire. The officials at the Cathedral asked the fire marshall not to touch the windows which led to seven years of clean up that now has put the building on par with anything of Medieval European religious gothic architecture in official tourist guide books.

My first impression there had to do with that of the sheer size. The darkness of its soot covered interior walls was a result of having been submitted to fifty years of old New York City coal burning for heat and cooking in the air and reaching inside an open and unfinished church.

That dark space I feel to this day and a sense of what an astronaut must feel floating in outerspace, as I looked up into a seeming infinite darkness. When they finally opened the church in 1941, they put a temporary plywood dome over the unfinished transept expecting to finish the work after WWII. Funny how that temporary roof painted black made for such magic inside with a few electric lights, votive candles and gloomy exterior rain filled light making a faint register through blue colbalt colored stained glass.

Now over a hundred years of coal soot and fire smoke damage and general grime are cleaned up. The building was rededicated in late 2008.

The cathedral, not so crowded as with the huge number of midtown tourists that frequent the likes of St. Patrick's, makes this place a very quiet and meditative sort of place.

There is plenty of artwork, tapestries, icons, statues and it has a Holocaust memorial sculpture. It is an all purpose building that fits into the secular needs of the nearby Columbia University community. It is host to concerts, plays and even the annual blessings for animals small and big as elephants if need be.

It is a place where famous people, well loved people, have their post mortal memorials because of the thousands of people who can crowd into the space. I recall the author James Baldwin's memorial service took place there. It seemed appropriate since the rear of the cathedral sits on a slight hill and overlooks most of Harlem.

A very interesting place.

Here is a dated review of the place from the Ship of Fools website that reviews services and architecture of houses of worship worldwide.

1164: Cathedral of St John the Divine, New York City

And of course the annual Francis of Assisi Animal blessing.

I close in quote from the first video above.
"It moves me intellectually, emotionally, spiritually. It illustrates what architecture can do to the human animal. What an expression that architecture can be to the human spirit” --Alfred Blanco, Cathedral docent

Highlights of a Cathedral’s Rehabilitation

Avatar or Symbol for Compassion

I had written something recently about coming up with a symbol for Compassion. Symbols are also called avatars these days.

I had suggested using the so-called Quaker Star, which is little more if you analyze it, little more than a common design on a quilt patch. The colors on that particular design were black, red and a cream white background.

That Quaker Star pattern had been used in the past for humanitarian workers in the Franco-Prussian War 1870 and conscientious objectors who worked in battlefields as medics in WWI. The small cloth patch had been sewn onto clothing or used as an armband to signify the unarmed nature of the person helping others in distress.

As such I think the design has some history associated with it with the idea of compassion. I think the Quakers might object if their exclusive design and color scheme were wholly lifted out of their place of meaning. I use the suggestion of the design as tribute to charity done to humanity in the past and present under their quilt pattern star.

I came up with a simple black and gray color scheme on a blue background. The circle is of course the planet, the world and beyond. The black at the center is darkness and uncertainty. The gray is certainly a movement into light, black mixed with white, not seen, moving into gray.

The only thing I might change in the symbol above but cannot technically do so at this time would be to make the outside dark ring to be one of white on the blue background.

The white or the light is a metaphor in religion. God as an abstract concept is sometimes called the Beatific Light – or “joyful” light – also beatific vision. If you think about it, pure white light is the exact opposite end of the total darkness of the void of space and the whole of the universe as we presently understand it from a scientific point of view.

Life as we know it exists in the light of a star, our sun, and shining on this one known living planet.

Compassion as described by the Dalai Lama means not wanting other people to be harmed, or causing no harm to others. In many ways that definition coincides with the idea of empathy or putting one in another’s situation or shoes and seeing the world from another point of view.

There is also the Charter for Compassion that tries to integrate globally the ancient Golden Rule to treat others as you would be treated yourself.

So many times, I have explained that to people and so many times I seem to get a blank stare in response. I have to wonder sometimes if the revolutionary soul of Jesus of Nazareth came from an evolutionary place in time and space where all humanity in all worlds and all galaxies find a home together – and he returned there. Perhaps that world is a real place that already exists in the Heaven and Paradise of myth.

I have to look at Jesus who wanted to change the world and the world promptly put him in his place. I have to wonder if like Luther, he could "do no other" than what he had to do while he was a presence here on this planet.

I also have to wonder too. If the compassion of the Creator to his creation - Us and Nature on Earth, whether the revolutionary message, or magic place of recognition of the divine spark within, continues to be hidden to so many of the human race – hidden because of ignorance – hidden out the fear of reaching for that light within?

Perhaps the human race is not ready to take a giant leap of faith toward the evolution of self and soul to live in peace and compassion together here on this mere spec of dust in space.

Until that day, when ever that is, those of us with the divine spark must keep the fire of light, even as a mere ember alive, waiting for that glory day of “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

As such, I welcome all to adopt your own sign of compassion, and put it within your reach in your mind, in your thoughts, on a flag. Or in the window to your own soul and not unlike a lit candle of peace, love and compassion that it hopefully symbolizes but acts too, from you living examples, as a beacon to others to one day find.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Avatar - Christianity At War With Nature?

Pantheism or the respect of Nature and not the worship of nature is the default belief system of the human race. Long before we had popes and bishops wearing 20 yards of silk each in the name of the homeless guy – what’s his name? – Jesus, we had nature. And let’s not forget the Creator of nature.

No doubt, James Cameron, native of Canada, having lived through a few Canadian winters has a healthy respect for nature.

His film Avatar is opening a panadora’s box of meaningless tangents. These tangents are mostly of religious symbolism more so than dogma. It never the less scares the Bejesus out of the institutional Christian church because the respect for nature is something that can fall through the cracks and before you know it Druidism and Wicca will reemerge to compound the dying stake share of paying customers in church on Sunday.

Basic fact is that Christianity as a religion is at war with Nature. Avatar only in some ways in a symbolic manner rubs up against and causes friction with the established order of perception where religion is concerned.

Being a good OLD TIME Christian means you are at war with nature. Being at war with nature makes you a “GOOD” Christian. Or so it has gone since Constantine's time.

When you see the typical southern cracker Senator like Jim DeMint against Nature and or climate change, his spiel is part of the hidden dogma of Christianity and has been so since the beginning of that religion.

Which leads us back to an old question. Which came first, the teachings of Jesus or the teachings of the church?

There are two Christianities. Not the east and west thing with orthodox versus roman.

The two Christianities has to do with the teachings of the radical revolutionary Jesus and his message of balanced economics and LOVE as opposed to the totalitarian reformed Roman Army religion of Constantine, founder of the Roman church. Ancient Rome was always at war with nature. Christianity as an official vehicle of Rome is at war too with nature to this day.

The Book of Revelation as a book of Propaganda for the Roman Army/Church is a propaganda message of pacification to the natives. You are with us or against us. If you are against us – expect only Roman Hell to come your way.

Also, the western, Roman and or default calendar I have to say is the universal calendar now on the planet. Every major mcountry in the world including Muslim countries had secular 2010 New Year celebrations or at least in their major cities.

I say universal in a sense of commerce in terms of dating e-mails, letters of credit, date of trades etc. Every regional culture and Islam still has its own regional or exclusive calendar system co-existing next to the Roman Gregorian Calendar – default calendar of global convenience.

The Romans, starting with Julius Caesar, used this same or standardized calendar based solely on numbers. No more of the “move your army between the new and full moon" stuff. Move your army in ten days, period. Move it from Point A to Point B, period.

No more feminine lunar calculatons. No more farmer’s calendars. Armies take what farmers grow. Armies do no grow food anymore. No need for a nature or natural calendar. Sounds like parts of this echoes to this day with the present American/corporate global Empire.

The Romans and their armies crashed their roads through forests and waterways the locals considered sacred in any Pantheist sense. The quickest way to any place on a map is on a straight line. Those old nature religions got obliterated by the Roman Army. Nobody really knows what these old religions really believed. Only bits and pieces or historical rumors of these old beliefs come to us to this day.

Which brings us back to Avatar. Avatar as a word is Hindu Symbolism for the god Vishnu coming to earth. I guess when the Vatican criticizes this Cameron movie they are trying to deflect other religions and their symbolism and commonality as in Jesus as an Avatar and or human form of Nature and or God.

Also the tree of souls in the movie harkens back to the tree of Life theme common in every native culture on the planet.

From the comments in the article below:
The real "Nav'vi"--"Nav'vi" is Hebrew for "prophet"--railed against the nature worshipers of Canaan, because they "fertilized" the ground with human blood (including children of up to 4 years old).
Geez! Now even the Jewish angle is being played into the interpretation of a fantasy movie as a vehicle to promote religion.

If you sit down and analyze Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, you could write volumes on hidden religious and Pantheistic meanings. Why go there ?

Sometimes a movie is just a movie to paraphrase Freud.

The science fiction movie ''Avatar'' borrows themes from many religions.
The big religious question the movie raises can be put this way: Will we see creation hierarchically or ecologically -- governed from above or through mutual interdependence?

The movie preaches the latter, that a network of energy flows through all things, that disturbing natural balance leads to disaster.

Christianity has sometimes been called a religion of colonizers, despoilers and decimators of native peoples.
Also, I always thought that an avatar was something like the image I use on my Internet profile. But what do I know?

You really are giving too much credit to James Cameron who made Titanic. Cameron’s Titanic was a typical Hollywood formula movie with too much success as hype and a thin script thrown in. The gimmick in that Cameron film, which I waited to see on cable TV, was a hidden treasure, the necklace, and the sets and costumes, some extraordinary character actors like Kathy Bates and a puckish Leo. Kate of course is one in a million

We are talking James Cameron here. James "Terminator" Cameron. What religious symbolism did Arnold secretly tell us about? Let’s stop Americanizing the process and mistaking financial success for intelligence, fine film making, good literature or deep religious symbolism.

The religion of money and greed taints everything these days to the point where it is poison like Midas’ gold.

I fear that the new emerging GREEN(secular)RELIGION wants to makes Avatar more than it really is by playing to the Pantheism tune spun off from the Vatican recently.

Americans are dumb enough these days. Don’t make a cottage industry of trying to explain to them the common sense symbols or religious symbols in front of them. They either understand or they don’t. Do we have to FOX NEWS spoon feed them and explain PC and RC (religiously correct) reality to them? So long as they have the price of a movie ticket, let them and their herd in. Green in the form of money and is all they have to worry about.

I have avoided Avatar. My college age son assured me that he enjoyed it. Good. I perceived this new gimmick to be another Hollywood Video Game version of reality thingy with dancing blue monkeys.

I will probably end up seeing it on cable, sans 3-D glasses, when I have insomnia and hopefully the tired Hollywood formula of John Smith and Pocahontas will put me to sleep. Shamans always bore me too.

And at its very confused fused roots of origin, Christianity IMHO is in eternal war with nature (hostility to all things non-Roman) to mention one of several possible Intervention issues.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

2010 Failed CEO Awards

2010 Failed CEO Awards

And the envelope please. (Drumroll!)

And they R:

Richard Williamson
John Mack
Lloyd Blankfein
Pat Robertson
Jamie Dimon
Vikram Pandit
Ken Lewis
Ben Bernanke
Joseph Ratzinger
Osama Bin Laden

I am reminded of several things in the news lately and things that somehow reflect our perception of things past, present and the future. Perceptions I might add real and or imagined.

Bishop Williamson is still skulking around somewhere talking to some neighborhood French newspaper about how only two or three Jews at most were killed by the Nazis – that there was no Holocaust.

The filmmaker Oliver Stone famous for some conspiracy and paranoid bents of American history recently said something to the effect that Hitler was a scapegoat for the western Bankers who put him into power and made big bucks off his lunatic war machine. He has a ten part documentary coming up on Cable TV soon.

I once read how New York Bankers used to go through Switzerland under Swiss Visas to Berlin on a regular basis to check on their American clients’ assets in German banks all during WWII. Property talks!

Joseph Ratzinger, aka Joe the Pope, wants to make WWII pope Pius XII a saint. He may have been pious and holy, but as a CEO in a modern world, not a word against the bankers, I mean the Nazi war machine. Joe gained votes/points on the Bishop Williamson deal, a deal with the devil – a “true story”.

Speaking of guilt and blame perhaps being too piled up on Pius XII as a scapegoat for the Brits and Americans and their failure to act – their ability to act. I was looking at some photos the other day and looking at an aerial photo of a Nazi concentration camp. Since they were never bombed, they knew they were there and who was in them – did they also know the last part of the equation/puzzle and analyze the need for so many smoking chimneys without factories?

Good question. I may have not framed it, the question, right but I do not think that the question has been asked very often or gotten anything more that a quick PR/PC answer.

Pat Robertson loves his darkie jokes and darkie stories especially ones that fit into children’s fable books about the devil and Voodoo. Somehow reality to him as a failed CEO is to keep holding on to power until his 51 year old son can be able to take over the family business – grow into it so to speak.

Osama Bin Laden, if he is still alive, takes four weeks to produce and send an audio, no video, tape claiming credit for the failed Christmas Day Detroit attempted airline bombing. Out of touch, out of mind – failed CEO written all over it.

The rest of these characters listed are bankers or financiers or the so-called Head of the FED, or whatever the cardboard sign in the window of their building is listing their ponzi business as these days. They helped destroy the global financial system which may not recover for another decade or two. They make big daily bets against Humanity – and until now – unchallenged – are winning those bets sad to say. (can we get an aerial shot on this for the archives?)

These noted failed CEOs are giving out candy, bonuses, to their crony employees with funds more or less borrowed (printed) from the U.S. Treasury. The courtiers at Versailles kissing Louis XVI’s perfumed butt never got such good bonuses for being the king’s cronies. The illusion, the delusion of those who think they are in power unfortunately lasts right up until a big blade falls.

Honorable mention to Tim Geithner - right hand man to THE MAN Obama - and in a league with failed CEO types and who has a really really big man crush on Ben Bernanke.

All listed above are out of touch and with the exception of Osama, wearing very expensive threads. They are all backward looking Medievalists so to speak.

The future is in the collective blindspot of their collective vision. In short – Failed CEOs.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Way of the Cross and or Crucifix

There is a story in the British newspapers about how an employee of British Air challenged her employer's dress code with the labor board and lost. The dress code in question required that no jewelry including a small gold cross be worn outside one’s uniform while on duty.

Of course this gets thrown around the press and in some cases, the cross becomes a crucifix. A lot of non-believers or marginal Christian types sometimes do not know the difference. A cross is a cross. A crucifix has the image of a body crucified on it. And in the case of religion, the crucified man is Jesus.

Interesting thing tracing this crucifix thing through the centuries. For the first thousand years of western Christianity, the cross was important but the crucifix was not as visual you might see in a church today. The rich had small metal decorations, covers for prayer books or inch or two long partial relief crucifixes in gold or ivory but they were on books or on relic boxes. The public in general did not see a three dimensional crucifix in any large life size until the Gero Crucifix, made of wood and painted, made its appearance in Cologne in Germany in 970. That crucifix exists to this day (image above). It was the talk of Europe in its day and well worth a pilgrimage to that city.

Along comes the schism between the eastern and western Christian churches in 1040. Both sides excommunicating each other etc. and with that trade from east to west slowed down. After fifty years of no coffee so to speak in the Vatican, the pope jumps up on a soapbox and starts the First Crusade to bypass Constantinople and make some new trade with the middle east. Of course, the emperor of Constantinople had asked for some political aid in the wake of Arab military gains in Turkey as a minor historic footnote.

To make a long story short, I will skip the first three crusades, some successful, some not. Along comes 1202 and the French with a load of knights and no European wars to fight, want to free the Holy Land again or whatever. The bankers in Venice finance the deal and the project lands in Constantinople where they sack the city and take tons of gold, icons and books back to Europe.

I don’t know how the fourth crusade turned out but the City of Constantinople never got over the sack, never fully rebuilt its walls and defenses and two hundred and fifty years later the Muslim armies more or less walked in and took over. All this over a bit of theological schism and bankers greed (Venice) and over whose interpretation of sacred scripture is more real or more genuine.

The eastern icons of Jesus Crucified were quite plentiful after that. First came frescoes and then came more wooden crucifixes and then the carved stone statues of the Renaissance that we think of as standard iconography today.

Along with the imagery of a man tortured on the cross came the mythology or the emphasis of the torture process to build up the Jesus story. Valid? Well when Mel Gibson made his flick the Passion of the Christ, he had the special effects to put the fear of God or of the Roman Empire into each and every one of us. Mission Accomplished.

When seeing the Gabriel Byrne interview previously listed here, I was struck how modern Christianity in its present form has no place for marginal believers. I am struck how Quakers will let you sit in on one of their services if you are agnostic or atheist. The spirit within, the emerging soul is something real and tangible in the mind of some modern men and women. Yet the medieval church and the Prots too cannot grab onto new thoughts, nuances, subtleties to give marginal humanity a place to gather and be in some sort of communion with the message of Jesus, and the ultimate message of God and humanity.

In the case of Gabriel Byrne he seemed to hesitate when push came to shove and reluctantly listed the story of the resurrection of Christ as allegorical. If I had a few minutes with him, I would tell him like a Jewish rabbi that “God rules the world!”. As such God can raise anybody from the dead. Take from that what you will.

With an emphasis to keep using the old standard black and white - A,B,C answers to a “Are you a true believing Christian?" TEST - the institutional Christian church keeps pushing marginal believers, people living in a very real stressful and modern world, away. Life is not a monastery or an ivory tower. The Christian message is more important sometimes than adherence to real or imagined myth.

There is some movie company in Europe with a major budget which is going to make a movie called the Resurrection of Christ. No doubt profit is the motive and Mel leads by example. I cannot help but think about how what separates many modern people and religious people are the iconic images and iconic words of scripture written in the stone age.

I remember how a pastor I was very fond of was disappointed at the end of the 1965 George Stevens movie The Greatest Story Ever Told – he was disappointed that the director did not show Christ rising from the dead. The final scene is a clever cut to a Risen Jesus in a fresco and not in three dimensional being. I have since researched this flick which I think is the best Gospel movie of all time and I found out that Stevens was a very religious man. I can only imagine that he left some doubt in the end of his movie as a means to show the movie to people without or outside faith.

So too, it would be good if people outside the Christian experience, like Muslims, could be exposed to just a little bit of Christian scripture, perhaps they would read more and be in a frame of mind to see how closely Islam is to other monotheistic religions. And vice versa.

I have often thought how Catholics and Muslims should get along better with each other because they both seem to live more for traditions within their religions than by perspective scripture alone. At this point in time neither side does much talking to one another on any broad base with individual people involved outside of clergy.

In any case, the flick about the resurrection will not prove any thing. Faith is a funny thing. You either have it or you don’t. I feel though that a minimal view could open more doors for others to come inside and smell the incense so to speak. Emphasis on icons like a Crucifix or an empty grave does and also does not affect the message of love and universal brotherhood.

Earlier, I was remembering the crucifix of the church where I grew up. The body on the cross was clean shaven, with no beard. When I asked about it as an altar boy, I was told that the founding pastor of my church said that Jesus was not married and therefore was clean shaven as only married Jewish men grew beards. I think Jesus as a revolutionary soul did about anything he wanted to.

A little and a lot of knowledge can be a dangerous thing sometimes. History is a strange thing in that with a little knowledge you could end up thinking about strange things like clean shaven Jews and even with a lot of knowledge get fancy notions to stand up on a soapbox and start a bloody crusade.

The mission is the message. The message of Jesus to love one another should be everybody’s mission – whether you are fully Christian or not.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Gabriel Byrne the actor talks about his life

Byrne is an Irish born actor with a current HBO series called “In Treatment” playing a psychotherapist. Other well known parts he has played is a priest in “Stigmata” and Satan in “End of Days”. He had a TV mini-series in the mid eighties in which he played the role of Christopher Columbus. Perhaps his most famous role is that of the Irish American gangster Tom Reagan in the Movie “Miller’s Crossing”. Time magazine in 2005 ranked Miller’s Crossing as one of the 100 best movies made since the beginning of film.

There was a recent Irish television interview discussing his being molested at the hands of the clergy in a Junior Seminary when he was eleven.

The Meaning of Life with Gay Byrne

And many other interesting things from the life of this actor are discussed in that interview.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hispaniola Has Many Fault Lines

There are after shock earthquakes hitting Haiti. There are people convinced that God through his outsourced servant is harassing and punishing the People of Haiti.

Pat Robertson, a man of the old south, with southern roots, and unspoken of black ancestors prefers the old Flip Wilson line "The Devil made me do it!" or we made a pact with the devil and we live by it two hundred years later.

It is strange to hear how you need the devil to throw off the white frog atheist of Napoleon Bonapart. You would think that you would have a backed up fill of God's grace to throw off that crazy dictator lunatic and Hitler's Idol.

But oh no, let's do it all half-assed and get a minor fallen angel on our team.

Another argument running think and deep through the fundamentalist blogosphere is that if the story about the pact with a devil in not true then why does Haiti have so much misery, poverty and earthquakes.

One scientific reason is that the center of the nation, the largest city Port au Prince sits right on a major fault line - EPGF fault line on map above. (click on map for better view)

The rest is exploitation by a handful of greedy "devil" capitalists. Ignorance is born by lack of education. Jesus said the poor and the ignorant will always be with us or something like that.

Jesus' statement is born of an obeservation of human nature in his primitive times. If he were here today he would marvel that his words reflecting the world of two thousand years ago have not improved into a poverty free, ignorant free world with ample resources and knowledge at our finger tips. If we cannot imagine or hope that we can overthrow the stone age that he lived in - then we as a human race and species are truly doomed.

There are several fault lines that run through the Island that Haiti and the Dominican Republic share.

The Dominican Republic has a link to the United States after we invaded it under LBJ to "git the commies". That's part of the link to some prosperity there. That and foreign investment and tourist dollars.

There have been many earthquakes in the Dominican Republic in the last century. There was a 7.0 earthquake in 1911. A 7.5 in 1918 and a 8.1 in 1946. There have been several 6.0 scale quakes in the decades up to the present.

The one in 1918 - 7.5 - took place on October 11, 1918 on the eve of Christopher Columbus Day, the founder of Hispaniola. So tramatic was that quake that when the population found itself digging out of it on Columbus Day - a Dominican Urban Legend was born about the use of the name Christopher which is considered an unlucky name there to this day with no one willing to name their child after the founder of the country after that quake of legend. Strange but true?

Is the devil real? Ignorance is in the eyes of the beholder. Right Pat?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

In the Shadow of the Kaaba – 130 Liberty Street NYC

I recently saw a YouTube of some Saudi VIPs walking around the inside of the Kaaba, an ancient and sacred building covered in a black silk veil, in Mecca. The doorway to heaven is supposed to be above this building that existed in Mohammed’s time.

The interior of the Kaaba is not like a place of worship as we in the west would understand it. It seems to me from historic comparison to be more like a Holy of Holies from the ancient second temple era in Jerusalem.

As such, I look and see that Islam has a different concept of sacred than the west. While this place is certainly sacred in culture, it is still just a building. People have different feels for sacred around the planet.

We in the west with its traditions of sacred and secular have a mental picture of what is and what is not sacred. The West’s idea of secular is perhaps too off the scale for Islamic cultures or too close to the money. Some of their mosques have grandeur and beauty as architecture.

If you look at the grand mosque in Cairo it has a grand plaza within the complex walls. As such in the middle of crowded city, mosques have much more of the secular feel of the original Roman empire basilicas as all purpose all weather public buildings.

But away from far away - We in America have our own Kaaba in America. It is in a sense sacred. It is part of the original World Trade Center complex. It did not have many valubles in it that day of 911 except mere people. So it still stands.

Eight and one half years and three hundred million dollars later, the “Black Widow” of the WTC (a dark building wearing a veil of mourning for over eight years), still stands and almost refuses to yield its final hours.

At the present rate of incompetence of the businessmen, bureaucrats and unions it will take another two years and probably another hundred million dollars to bring the grand dame finally down.

I worked in that building for six years once upon a time. I won’t bore you with those details now. But because I am sensitive to the energy of the building in question, I sometimes feel that it is not so much cursed as let down by America.

We were all let down on 911 in a way. We have not recovered yet. The taking down of 130 Liberty Street sliver by sliver and crumb by crumb is symbolic of failed American Enterprise and Ingenuity. As other projects and buildings are delayed waiting for the grand old dame to come down and make way for a ramp for underground parking, the old lady is telling a story of American Greed, Incompetence and possible Redemption.

I named the building “the American Kaaba” in another blog "ghosts-of-911" but eventually deleted it because the message I was trying to interpret out of that construction site was hateful toward the people who brought down the World Trade Center.

The old lady sits silent but is still telling a story as time drones on. She tells the story of the failure of the whole American Way as displayed in the failure of Americans to heal our wounds at the old World Trade Center. The WTC is a government boondoggle’s boondoggle for city, state and federal money to be wasted over and over again like water while the rest of American starves in the Great Recession.

There was a time when they said that they were going to take the 39 story building, clean it up, take out the asbestos, recycle it (how green) and redo the building as office space. But no. That was six years ago and two hundred million dollars ago. Why stop when the money well keeps flowing for the elites - New York Real Estate Moguls, a socialist crony class just like their Wall Street brothers. More money Uncle Sam! More Money! Mo' Money!

And the corruption goes on and on! Unlike the Mecca Kaaba that is only secular and just a building, 130 Liberty Street and the whole of the World Trade Center’s gaping wound is Sacred because it is all made of money - the only god some people worship.

I, at one point, thought that where it is at 24 stories, that maybe the last ten stories could be left in place and the remains turned into a much cheaper museum for vistors to memorialize the dead of 911 and still be part of the original fabric of that lost WTC.

At this point I would recommend that it, now clean as a baby’s bottom after a bath, be imploded to speed up the process of the new World Trade Center, bureaucratic nightmare that it is.

The old lady – the “Black Widow” - deserves a better ending than she is getting at the hands of 21st century American moronic business class thinking and full of disrespect.

I dare say Obama could send the Army Corp of Engineers in to coordinate private contractors to implode 130 Liberty Street within a few weeks. Onward America! Dare I dream???

I am reminded of an article from the Huffington Post before Christmas and the advice of Arron Zelinsky in the context of the Maccabbees and the spirit of renewal and rebuilding as part of the Chanukah story – and his advice to our Prez.

Judah the Maccabee's Five Lessons for Barack Obama
3) Rebuilding symbolic structures matters. The literal meaning of Chanukah is "rededication." Josephus recounts that Judah found the Temple in ruins, defiled and destroyed by Antiochus's military forces. Judah recognized the spiritual and political imperative to rebuild the Temple as a symbol of strength and unity. The Maccabees quickly rededicated the Temple, giving the holiday its name.

In contrast, our desecrated buildings are now but four stories tall. It has been eight years since the destruction of the World Trade Center. Freedom Tower could have been a symbol of our resilience and confidence, but has instead become a model of bureaucratic inefficiency and political bickering. Rededication of symbolic structures is not easy, but it is essential and it must proceed faster.
130 Liberty Street is symbolic of all that is wrong with America at present. It is also perhaps the touchstone of the future, of our redemption from sitting on own asses in these past thirty years of gluttony and consumption.

We can get back on track and get back to the common sense of our ancestors.

Forward America! Dust (from implosions) be damned!

Bless the Spirit of our Founding Fathers.

We need that Spirit now in America!

Heaven and Hell Can Wait until We Have Change in America

I was having bad feelings in my dreams last night. I won’t say nightmares. I practice some control in my dreams but never the less woke up and did not want to go back to sleep right away.

It all had to do with Satan and or the devil or whatever. The devil was something I used to get threatened with when I was a child. Rather abusive in retrospect to dump human insanity onto an innocent child as the justification to make threats and just because the child did not want to go to bed. I left the lights on after that when going to bed. It is some carbon footprints that ignorance leaves on the planet.

The Devil thing was related to Pat Robertson and his senile remarks about how the Haitians got into the tragedy they got into because of some pact with the devil. Believe me if the devil was worth his salt I would have already made a pact with him or her a long time ago. But where is a friend or benefactor when you need one. The devil is as useless and any other children’s myth. The alternative of good “Christians” wanting to take my soul is all I got printed on my tee shirt in this life.

Like most dreams, mine I think had its roots in a cartoon site listed by CNN on its website.

Pat Robertson Devil Cartoon

The sad thing is that the Cartoon says a lot about a lot of things in America today.

Is this my Secular moral outrage at Pat Robertson's blasphemy on the human condition for "inferior" people - inferior in his eyes - his supposedly superior christian eyes? I will let you ponder that question.

CNN which has been a stable supplier of the establishment bullshit forever expressed freedom of speech and passed long a cartoon of Pat Robinson as the Devil in no doubt luke warm editorial comment on the way Christianity, or major parts of it, has failed us in real life situations on this planet.

It is a secular swinging backlash after decades of verbal abuse from the politicians and bankers and members of Congress who use GOD like they use everybody else in the quest for a measure of power, glory and money.

When good ole Pat had to throw in the bigoted darkie joke while appealing for funds to help these black devils he finally crossed the line – a line behind which the MSM, main stream media, has been protecting these establishment figures for decades now.

There is a shift in the balance of power here in America. The religious establishment has allied itself with the politicians and the bankers and guess what - something is coming down the pike. A French Revolution to tear down churches, banks and state legislatures? I don’t know.

There is no God. Or at least no moral justice here in America. The Wall Street bonuses prove that.

We voted for change. There is going to be change come hell, high water or even earthquakes!

All I know is that the blogosphere is a powerful instrument and it is registering major disgust for all the fools in power. I am ready for a tea party! I am glad that Obama is finally proposing a bail-out or bankers devil's tax.

It is time to give the devil his due, tax him, and time to pay the piper for us all great and small alike.

Heaven and or hell can wait.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Follow-up on Malaysia Situation

This is follow-up to religionist tensions in Malaysia. I ran into an Associated Press article being run in the New York Times.

Malaysia Minorities Fear Islamization in Allah Row
The dispute has spawned attacks on 10 churches and has hardened a long-standing sense of alienation among the non-Muslim minority, threatening 40 years of ethnic peace and stability that underpins Malaysia's economic success.

Tensions rose further Thursday after lawyers representing Christians in their legal fight for the right to use ''Allah'' discovered their office had been ransacked and a laptop was missing. Also Thursday, a church in the southern state of Johor was found to have been vandalized with red paint…

The nation's current policies on race stem from violent riots in May 1969 in which Malays attacked the generally more prosperous Chinese. The government responded in part with an affirmative action program for Malays in jobs, housing and other areas. There are exclusive schools and colleges for Malays, while minorities fight for limited university places under the program.
I recommend you read the article to gain some insight into that present sitution.

In my opinon, I think the present breakdown in civility between cultural and religious parties in Malaysia has to do with three basic things.

One, is that the economy is bad. Marginal economic parties always lash out at what are perceived to be competing groups for jobs, food, shelter.

Two, the local Islamic culture of Asia is swept in the global awaking of Islam. This awakening is a two edged sword. The ugly edge part is international jihad in the form of a political movement called al-Qaeda. The other side of the sword is one of cultural awareness and bringing new meaning to an ancient belief system.

Third, when Malaysia formed in 1957 as a multi-cultural country, it along the timeline gave native Malays preferential treatment in education and government jobs and other things. The remaining minorities of Chinese and Hindu have had to go overseas for higher education feeling slighted in that area.

The bottom line is that the temporary vision, the pragmatic social contract of the making of a post-colonial modern Malay State is unraveling. Chinese, Hindu and the Indigenous populations wants more equality in Malay Society.

On the Indigenous side and in two provinces on the northern side of the Island of Borneo, five hundred miles from the Malay Peninsula, is where Christianity is taking hold. The RC church and it's request to legally use “Allah” as acceptable usage under Malay law for G-D in a local indigenous regional catholic newspaper is the tip of the iceberg - and what recently sparked ethnic religious hate crimes.

Part of the original social contract of 1957 makes it mandatory that all majority Malay citizens be Muslim without exception. If you become privileged in this social equation you give up freedom of religion which is perhaps an alien western to them concept but not unlike Medieval Europe where the Church was the only official religion in town.

Bridging the gap to a future global society means having to ask how to build that bridge in an acceptable fashion with sacred/secular fused, mixed and secular societies.

The Republic of Singapore had been briefly opted into the Malay state around 1963 and then opted out in 1965. From my own research I know that Singapore which has a majority population of Chinese ancestry people did not feel comfortable as part of the Malay nation equation.

I doubt that the Malay majority population will give up any constitutional privilege very easily. The future on Malaysia I think is that majority population not be introduced to the concept of religious freedom as much as allow freedom of thought and religion to be a factor in binding the nation up into a more civil, tolerant and better glued together society.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Jay Leno Sucks! – Failed NBC CEO Cronyism

Jay Leno Sucks! He is no Johnny Carson! And never will be!

Since everybody else is chiming in on this topic, let me add my voice to the chorus.

Jay Leno in 17 years on the Tonight Show never reached half the quality or standard of excellence that Johnny Carson in thirty years on that late night show stamped with his personna.

Give Conan O’Brien a chance. He bided his time and it is his time on stage – not Leno’s!

Jeff Zucker, CEO of NBC Universal, is showing all the signs of C.A.F.C.S. - Chronic American Failed CEO Syndrome. When you make mistakes worth hundreds of millions of dollars, cut staff and write off the loss against taxes.

NBC Universal sounds likes its headquarters should be on Wall Street with the rest of American Crony Failed Enterprises.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Radical Religionism or Talking For The Devil

There are fault lines across the landscape of the earth. There are fault lines across the landscapes of our culture. There used to be dividing lines between sacred and secular.

The lines of sacred and secular are sometimes blurred. When you have TV Evangelists hawking their product on TV, they the so-called sacred, are existing within the true realm of the Science of the Secular – Television.

So it becomes a bit strange when someone like the TV personality Pat Robertson - starts to spout off about the devil and how God punishes the black people in Haiti. Punishes them because they made a pact with the devil two hundred years ago to throw off their white masters, the French.

Well madness, both physical and “religious” is using a secular means of TV to spout this Medieval “religious” nonsense. And I might add while some 800 number is flashing across the screen asking you to send money to Pat to help these “friends of the devil”.

Such lunacy evokes within me the word HYPOCRIT – a favorite word used by Jesus.

My heart goes out to people in the middle of a disaster, Haiti, Katrina, 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. Acts of nature are not acts of God.

The Radical Religionists who use the Secular means of Television to spread superstition and reinforce hate want it both ways. They want to stand on the steps of their church on America’s town square with a bullhorn and make you listen to their bullshit. They also want to call people who do not want to be bothered with their Radical Religionist Bullshit and attack them as Radical Secularists. Give us a break.

This is not my original idea, but where are the moderate voices of religious leaders in this country who have come out and condemned Pat Robertson’s or Rush Limbaugh’s gleeful little racist inhumane diatribes against the people of Haiti???

I am listening. I can’t hear you!

The next time I hear any of these pompous for profit religious types or Newt Gingrich spout the words Radical Secularist at me or anybody else like me who cares about humanity, I will shout back at them and remind them how, that by their silence, they stood by and silently endorsed this religious bigotry.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A New Christian and the Core “C” Document

There is that last scene in the 1960 Movie “Time Machine” where it is determined that the Time Traveler has gone back to the future to rebuild a dying Earth civilization. It is also discovered that he has taken three books from his library to aid him in his efforts. The interesting question is what three books did he take? What three books would you take to represent the best of Human History and Cultures?

Interesting questions. I have written before about the Quelle Document that scholars have searched for in trying to balance the quotes of Jesus in the first three gospels that seem to be very exact or the same in translation. The “Q” – (Quelle – or “source” in German) - document is something of a holy grail for New Testament scholars.

I step back and have to wonder if the quest for “Q” is a macro or a micro attempt to get closer to the teachings of Jesus. Since it covers the base of three documents, the synoptic gospels, it is a macro item.

I want something a little more that a cheat sheet that the gospels writers, the dozens of them, copied from to define the true essence of Jesus and his teachings.

The search for the basic Jesus is perhaps in a “C” or Core Document (Core same in English as German?) - that is the base seed from which all other gospels grow and build upon. If there is such a Core or “C” document, then it might be a small and hidden document and right in front of the scholars’ noses all along.

If the new belief in non-belief represents the New Atheism, perhaps the minimalist beliefs of a Cultural Christian can represent that of a New Christian.

Where am I going with this? Well looking through the top fifteen “red ball” quotes by the Jesus Seminar of religious scholars, I see that seven out of the top fifteen quotes are from one chapter of one gospel. This particular group of scholars agree on what was truly said by Jesus with a high percentage of agreement on certan quotes in the NT. Those seven quotes I refer to are from Luke chapter six.

Reading Luke 6, I have to consider that here is close to eighty percent of the Jesus drama and Jesus message spelled out in plain language.

You have the blasphemy of King David in the House of G-D and the taking of the Sabbath from the sacred to the secular in the one phrase “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” – meaning “the people” make the rules for Sabbath and not high priests. Miracles are allowed on the Sabbath.

You have the naming of the twelve Apostles.

You have the Sermon on the Mount.

You have love for enemies and the judging of others.

You have a tree and its fruit.

And you have the houses built on rock and sand.

Luke 6 (New International Version)

That if one wanted to print Luke 6 in small print, it could be printed on two sides of one piece of paper. Luke 6 could be put into your wallet or purse.

You could read it everyday to be reminded of the message of the teacher, the master, the Prophet, the social agitator, the community organizer, the Son of Man, and the people – the people of God – who live the Jesus message everyday as – New Christians in a new global age.

A New Christian can believe and try to live by the basic core message of Jesus' teachings.

Like the Time Traveler who needed three books to bear witness to the whole of human history and culture, the New Christian perhaps only needs two to three pages – Luke 6 – on which to build a future for mankind, the whole of the human race, for generations to come.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Christopher Hitchens - Trashing the Dead or The New Necromancy

I know it an unsightly boorish thing to question the wit, the unquestioned wit of a Brit who helps the dumbed down American landscape elevate itself to new highs of undeserved grandeur.

Tea time, High Tea, cocktail party. When is it “appropriate to say fuck in public?”

Not over the body of a Japanese man who lived through two of the most tragic days thus far in Human Existence and in two of the most unfortunate places to witness our shared Human Tragedy – Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“WTF” is all the incredibly talented but constantly drunk and boorish Christopher Hitchens has to say about the sufferings of a 93 year old Japanese man.

O Lucky Man - Sometimes "WTF?" is the only rational response to a situation
The brute fact must also be faced that there is something approximately 30 percent farcical, even funny, about the whole tale. There's almost no point in not laughing about it. The late Alan Clark, Tory historian and amoral wit, once drew up a list of the occasions on which it is permissible to employ the word fuck in polite society. One of his examples was, "What the fuck was that?" as uttered by the mayor of Hiroshima. Add to this the mayor of Nagasaki exclaiming the same thing just as Yamaguchi stumbles onstage, and you can arguably build a bit of a routine around it. Unfeeling, you say? Not particularly. It isn't my idea that these capricious catastrophes strike the just and the unjust with such regularity, or that they are soothingly explained away by the pseudo-compassionate. Of all the great cosmic questions, WTF still strikes me as one of the most pressing, relevant, and ultimately humane.
I think it a bit disrespectful if not downright vulgar to have devoted a whole spiel – burlesque set up for a punch line at a cocktail party and to not mention the bits and pieces of suffering this Japanese man went through because he perhaps was lucky or unlucky to have survived after being at two very unfortunate events in human history.

The New York Times did as usual write an outstanding Obituary for Mister Tsutomu Yamaguchi.

Which brings me to the new necromancy of the cocktail party set and of the man who has trashed the dead before in the form of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. No doubt Mr. Hitchens will be writing soon about that new necromancy of the rich and elite with whom he most disdainfully must fraternize with because nobody else is as good or as smart or as brilliant as hisself.

On a macro history level, I agree that Truman had to drop the bomb to save American and Japanese casualties. I am talking grunts and soldiers here on both sides. I agree because I try to empathize with the little people on the ground in the micro part of that historic equation. Which makes me wonder if Mr. Hitchens has any empathy at all for mere people.

I have not read the writing part of Mr. Hitchens trashing of Mother Teresa but watched as all us little people can do - some YouTube – a three part documentary “Hell’s Angel” referring to Mother Teresa of Calcutta. His delivery is methodical and well spoken. He delivers script verbally as good as he writes it. As I said before he is an incredibly talented man now working to raise the American literary levels higher. The documentary is the best piece of propaganda I have ever seen. It’s polished Pravda like style delivers me back to those days of us against them in the cold war.

Hitchens’ “us” is atheism and the “them” are the would be saints like Teresa who kissed the asses of the rich, powerful and evil to fund her distribution of crumbs to the poor. I begin to understand the opera of the church and the role of a devil’s advocate in the production like process that makes an official saint of the RC church.

For a moment I almost believed the propaganda about what a monster Teresa is in the eyes of an atheist. Why do people do good things in the name of some abstract or unseen entity called G-d?

I begin to realize why I am uncomfortable with atheism and atheists. When they shed their allegiance to any belief system, many of them expose their lack of empathy towards humanity.

Treating Teresa on a macro level of history suits the author and propagandist and eliminates the little guy out of the equation. That perhaps belief in non-belief, atheism, as a belief and new religion is as totalitarian as any gone before it.

So too on one level of humanity, the rich and famous can make money, war and words of comfort from coffee table magazine writers. They cannot understand “why the other half live”. A troubled conscience perhaps?

I must thank Mister Tsutomu Yamaguchi for living his meager life full of suffering. I must thank him for his efforts late in life to join against nuclear proliferation. I must thank him for his suffering, of wearing bandages for fifteen years to heal the scars of man’s imposition of inhumanity onto humanity (macro onto micro).

I cannot apologize for the human condition and the need by the uncaring elite to wage war at the expense of the “other half” factored out of all present economic and political equations of all so called modern or post modern success.

Rest in peace Mister Yamaguchi. You have done much for human history by your much more than mere life and presence on this planet.

And thank you too Christopher for making me aware of why I believe in God but not religion.

Today, the human equation, and the light within, are still very real to me.

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Allah" Hate Crimes Continue in Malaysia

I see in this morning’s Chicago Tribune that it is now 9 houses of Christian worship that have been fire bombed in the Muslim Majority country of Malaysia.

Malaysia is a patchwork of diverse cultures and races and spread out on the top of Indonesia. Malaysia consists of an urban rich part on the Malaysian Peninsula that juts out of Thailand and Burma. At the very bottom of that Peninsula is the Republic of Singapore. On the other side of a distance of about five hundred miles across the South China Sea are the two rural provinces of Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah, on the northern end of the island of Borneo.

It is in these rural provinces that the use of the word Allah as a substitute with G-d was used in a Catholic Newspaper and read by the native aborigine cultures in these rural provinces, that sparked the court case that sparked the current round of hate in Malaysia.

Malaysian churches attacked with firebombs
...Malaysian churches were attacked with firebombs, causing extensive damage to one, as Muslims pledged today to prevent Christians from using the word "Allah", escalating religious tensions in the multiracial country.

Many Malay Muslims, who make up 60% of the population, are incensed by a recent high court decision to overturn a ban on Roman Catholics using Allah as a translation for God in the Malay-language edition of their main newspaper, the Herald.

The government had said that Allah, an Arabic word that predates Islam, was exclusive to the faith. It refused to make an exception, even though the Herald's Malay edition is read only by Christian indigenous tribes in the remote states of Sabah and Sarawak.
Malaysia may be diverse in populations but a 50% native Malay population dominates the other minorities of 23% Chinese, 11% Indigenous, 6% Indian and an assortment of native peoples. That over this is a 60% Muslim religious majority over 19% Buddhist, 9% Christian, 6% Hindu populations. Quite a mix.

These fire bombings of Christian Churches seems to be in the rural areas. Only one church has burnt down totally as I can tell from reports. The other churches are damaged by mostly firebombs tossed in the middle of the night off of speeding motor bikes. In a sense, it is rural hooliganism mixed with native fears of all outside cultures and the issue being multiplied in the mosques and media center of Kuala Lumpur, the biggest city on the Peninsula.

Rural Hooliganism or not, we in America call fire bombings of any house of worship a hate crime.

Hate in the name of Allah, God or whoever is still hate. Hate is a human thing I think and not something necessary attributed to deities.

The government of Malaysia had better get some crowd control and common sense put on this rural issue, with the big city Clerics now chiming in, before the “religion of peace” once against demonstrates how truly inflexible it is in trying to live with other points of view and other religious persuasions on this diverse global planet.

6:45 AM EST USA - I stand corrected by Anonymous 6:32 on the geographic locations of these bombings.
Actually the first 5 firebombed churches are located in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur (KL). 3 more cases spread out of KL, one church and a convent school in northern Malaysia and today another church is southern KL.

The general mood among non-muslim is now very tense and cautious.
It would seem these attacks are more central and urban. Problem for me in reading many western papers is that I do not get or have a true sense of the local geography.

7:11 AM EST USA - to put some scale and perspective on this, it is 8:11 PM (MYT) in Kuala Lumpur just past sunset.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Odd Bird Christians - Mary Daly - Graham Leonard

Two interesting obits of two very odd ball Christians who died within the same week.

The first is of the radical feminist theologian Mary Daly, who was tolerated by the Jesuits at Boston College where she was tenured. She in the end did not want males to attend some of her lectures, which thereby lead her way into retirement. School policy could have allowed such a quirk of teaching preferences but federal law would not allow it. In any case she seems to have the spunk and fire of a truly memorable personage in the faith that she dissected, described and challenged as a theologian.

Mary Daly, uppity theologian
Mary Daly, the feminist theologian and philosopher, has died. She was an audaciously creative spirit; an awkwardly witty, deadly serious writer. She arguably did more to stretch what is possible to think in contemporary feminist theology than any other.

Here's a taste of what she was prepared to say. In books like Gyn/Ecology and Beyond God the Father, she envisaged the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit: the all-male three in one – as an eternal homosexual orgy. She argued that to call God "father" is to make fathers gods, excusing all kinds of horrors from religious totalitarianism to domestic violence.

Theologians have contested Daly's claims, not least feminist theologians who have remained within the Christian tradition. They point out that alongside the male images of God as Father and Son are the more ambiguous ones of God as Spirit. In the Hebrew Bible, the Spirit of God is envisaged as a wise woman, Sophia. Sophia has even been aligned with the person of Christ: at the time of Jesus, she was well established as a symbol of God's relatedness… And yet, Jesus was a man. The female word Sophia lost out to the male word Logos when it came to interpreting the metaphysics of the Son.
The second obit is of Graham Leonard, former Church of England Bishop of London among other things who in his retirement went over to the other side, the Romans, because of his disgust of female ordination in his church body. He turned in his bishop’s title for that of monsignor.

Monsignor Graham Leonard obituary
However, in 1994, three years after his retirement from London, and after conversations with the Roman Catholic archbishop of Westminster, his friend Cardinal Basil Hume, he was received into the Roman Catholic church and was ordained priest sub conditione. At Leonard's own consecration in 1964, an Old Catholic bishop from the small churches that have separated from the Roman Catholic church, but are in full communion with the Church of England, had joined the bishops who consecrated him. This eased his reception into the Roman Catholic church, and he was made a monsignor…

He was notably honourable in ordaining 71 women as deacons at St Paul's Cathedral on 22 March 1987. This ordination weakened the arguments against the ordination of women as priests, but he went ahead. Still, he was hesitant about allowing women to exercise authority. He appointed an area bishop to Kensington who directed that no woman should be in the sanctuary when he was celebrating, even though Kensington had many female deacons and female servers. Leonard once used the law of trespass to prevent 100 men and women accepting the ministration of a female priest ordained abroad.
If there is a waiting room outside heaven and one has to wait one’s turn to get the right bureaucratic stamp on the Christian Passport so to speak, I have to imagine a bureaucratic snafu as in the case how all bureaucratic institutions work – and imagine Mary Daly and Graham Leonard challenging each other over one’s place in line.

I do not predict fisticuffs but in any verbal and or physical confrontation between those two – my money is on the Irish girl.


Emergent - Post Evangelical - Post Modernism

Someone did some research and passed it along to me regarding the Labels of “Emergent Church”, “Post Evangelical”, and part of an overall “Post-Modern” Christianity. I am not certain what to make of all this labeling except to say that it appears to be a new philosophical approach in how to deal with the old Evangelicalism which is “Modern” but somehow now is old.

Anyway, it seems to be carving a new niche out on the Tent Circuit of preaching the old time religion with perhaps a few minor tweaks in the way the preaching or message gets delivered.
As a result, some in the emerging church believe it is necessary to deconstruct modern Christian dogma. One way this happens is by engaging in dialogue, rather than proclaiming a predigested message, believing that this leads people to Jesus through the Holy Spirit on their own terms… wikipedia “emergent church”
One of the leading voices of this new emergent church movement is Brian McLaren, a popular lecture circuit figure and author of “A New Kind of Christian”.

The Emergent Mystique
But A New Kind of Christian has also attracted plenty of critics. The most persistent question they raise is whether "modern" and "postmodern" can be divided so cleanly. Wheaton College philosopher Mark Talbot points out that skepticism about values like objectivity, analysis, and control was already present in Enlightenment figures like David Hume. Meanwhile, Talbot says, "the great irony is that by giving us these sharp categories of 'modern' and 'postmodern' ways of thinking, McLaren is doing the very sort of categorization he describes, and implicitly condemns, as modern."

The modern period of history, as Neo tells it, is coming to an end. We are entering "postmodernity," an as-yet ill-defined borderland in which central modern values like objectivity, analysis, and control will become less compelling. They are superseded by postmodern values like mystery and wonder. The controversial implication is that forms of Christianity that have thrived in modernity—including Dan's evangelicalism—are unlikely to survive the transition.

McLaren managed to connect abstruse concepts of intellectual and social history to a visceral sense of disillusionment among evangelical pastors. Dan's dissatisfaction with ministry, in McLaren's telling, was not primarily a faith problem, a psychological problem, or a sociological problem. It was a philosophical problem—the result of a way of thinking that was no longer adequate. Pastors who would have had a hard time seeing the relevance of postmodernism could suddenly envision it as the key to finding, as the book's jacket put it, "spiritual renewal for those who thought they had given up on church."
I would have to say that the Emergent Church concept of a so-called Post Modern Christianity is a possible rebranding of the same old product. By saying that the Bible is a human document, it is not backing off from the unerring concept but rather trying to gather a few new ears who did not get poisoned by last year’s batch of snake oil on last years marketing circuit through Rubetown. Please forgive my cynicism.

Emergent it would seem is slicker and more polished in words, approach and style. Instead of forcing a square peg (people) in a round hole (religion) – they are first trying to see how to help the individual needs first, to feel at home and stay in a new repackaged evangelical setting, before putting them to work at the work of the “new” church. That’s new?

Hardly a Holy Ghost Lite approach but judging from the failed methods of the past by pastors who did not like, got burned out, preaching the message and the sheep who did not like being constantly preached at, perhaps there is a middle ground for those who need the attention and fellowship of an established building and church.

I have to wonder at the old evangelicalism, which started with the so-called Jesus Movement of the seventies, seemed to me to be a reaction to the depiction of Jesus as human as in a Broadway play, Hit, and music of Jesus Christ Superstar.

It seemed to me from my point of view from memory, that almost as if when the reaction to Superstar happened, technology kicked in, small town radio and small town TV evangelism started growing and connecting together to the point of saturation and success.

Mega TV evangelism and mega churches were born over time and in some ways as a form of entertainment not unlike the former sports arenas they, the mega churches are sometimes housed in.

Which sort of reminds me of Fox News. Which came first, the news as entertainment or religion as entertainment? You answer that one.

Perhaps somehow that original product of the message of "Modern" Evangelicalism got lost in the shuffle of running deposits to the bank to pay the mortgages on these new Mega Churches and Mega Media Broadcast Centers.

In a way Modern Evangelicalism soon to be replaced by so-called Post-Modern beliefs is kinda like the old Arthur Godfrey Show never went off the air on CBS. The ratings are down but everyone loves Arthur (even though he is long dead). The young Turks so to speak like McLaren want to get that precious Godfrey time slot, to survive with a new updated version of entertainment now so obsolete and still on the air.

The problem may be that high definition TV (and a new show format) will probably improve the overall picture but not necessarily the quality of the product being sold.

I cannot judge what the ripple effect Post-Modern or Emergent comes to in common understanding or recognition as a real movement to be recognized within the umbrella of beliefs known as Christianity. The energy is there. It appears to be born of the human spirit and of the spirit within.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Religious Fright! - Fear of Religion

Rather than move the world forward in a positive manner, many aspects of religion no matter how “peaceful” your one true religion is, many aspects of religion are a redundancy decades or centurties after secular institutions began to function in the place of ancient religious insitutions such as courts, hospitals, universities and civil government.

Indeed, I think that religion here in the west is just hanging around after it has been become obsolete on the secular civil level. As such what good is it except to clutter those secular institutions with superstition and useless remembrances of the past.

The past is the past. The Modern World is now. A Post-Modern world is tomorrow. There seems to be a lot dead weight regarding religion trying to drag us away from modernity.

That dragging people into a mindless past with Sharia Laws, Islamic or Christian, is anarchy – trying to destroy the secular real, functioning, world around us.

In the news I see sad things in that seven people were mowed down in gun fire at a Coptic Christian Christmas Mass celebration in Egypt. Fully 10% of Egypt’s 80 old million souls are Coptic Christian which these days comes close to Eastern Orthodox Christianity in their beliefs.

There are also fire bombings at Christian churches in Malaysia, an Islamic Country, where a court ruling said that it was legal for Christians, a minority, to use the word Allah as the word for their G-d in Christendom. Semantics. Bloodshed. Misunderstanding.

I am looking briefly at the concept of post modern Christianity with various mainstream and evangelical fundamentalist branches of the Christ tree trying to rethink and retool not to a modern world – but a post modern world – whatever that means. The here and now is modern enough for me.

I will say that dialogue if it exists at the high CEO level of church entities doesn’t talk to the little people on the ground on how to rethink and retool- sounds like I am talking automobiles in Detroit – more so than churches – Religion is like General Motors – only the empty factories give evidence of a once great human enterprise. Empty churches – empties factories – Obsolete thinking! Gross mismanagement of purpose.

The RC church, the so-called power house of Christian entities that should be setting the pace on post modernism, if there is such a thing, is still wallowing in the 32 years of Vatican mismanagement. Still languishing in the disaster reign of Pius IX in the nineteenth century who started the war on modernism (like a similar war on terror – it will never end).

In fact, Vatican II and all its negative fallout to this day forty odd years later is partially a result of trying to undo 32 years of RC/Christian gross mismanagement of humanity and its spirituality. The Vatican likes electricity and flush toilets (very modern things) but everything else that is not medieval is Verboten.

Indeed, Benedict’s attack on Islam, a new holy war, his infamously incompetent and tactless reference to Islam in the 14th century in his Regensburg Lecture in September 2006 is something mainstream Christianity will have to deal with in terms of collateral damages for decades and perhaps centuries to come. Perhaps bloodshed in the news today in Egypt and Malaysia has its direct roots in that very same speech.

While one part of Christianity wants to address interfaith issues and improve the perception of Jesus’ message to the ages, bumbling hack Vatican bureaucrats are still debating the bloody Crusades!

There is a point in time long ago where the secular world took over most institutions in the West. Rather than give the devil his due, I would say that most of Christianity lives in the delusion of the past before street lights, electricity, running water, penicillin, birth control and all those other truly evil things of a modern world.

Religion, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism Etc. must look at reality first in the present and assess where they have been or where they are going. Otherwise, the coming rapture happens to them all - as they get whisked away into obscurity and history. Good riddance.

The Coptic Christian killings above is indicative of the dysfunctionalism of Islam in Egypt. Before Obama’s visit to Cairo earlier this year, the hack cronies of the Government decided that the pigs being raised by Christians in Cairo would cause a national swine flu epidemic even though there was little or no scientific data to support such a slap in the face of the Coptic minority population which eats pork.

The pigs were confiscated and destroyed. Compensation from the Government did not materialize. What would you expect – Justice?

The Moral of the story of Egyptian Muslims harassing Coptic Christians in Cairo - The pigs used to eat the garbage in the streets. The pigs are gone. Now all of Cairo smells of rotting garbage. If you want to be post-modern and or even modern world, start a secular garbage collection bureaucracy before you impose your stinking religious prejudices on the entire world. Think first – cause and effect.

The west and the Christians can learn from the lack of tolerance to others in the smug present world moving into a future world. That world will likely see the decline and disappearance of all religion because the guy in the back end of the Donkey costume does not know how to signal or cooperate with the other guy in front end of the suit. Or vice versa.

We are all interdependent in this world -“joined at the hip”- if it takes a hundred years to start up an interfaith dialogue, guess what, the secular will survive while your religious world crumbles and disappears.

Religions will come and go in the post-modern secular world. Whether there will be any religions left in that post-modern world? Well - one third of the passengers of the Titanic did after all make it all the way to New York.

In the meantime, garbage will continue to be picked up in a timely secular fashion.

Reality is real. Religion frightens me.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Elvis at 75 - still the King

Elvis is 75 today. Elvis Presley in up there in the American Cultural Pantheon of demi-gods along with Abe Lincoln, the Flag, Mom and Apple Pie.

Enjoy – and if you are old enough – remember.

(Technically - now - Elvis will never, can never, leave the building of American Icons.)