Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Cross as Religious and Secular Icon

The image above is a piece of the destroyed World Trade Center pulled from the wreckage a few days after 911. Two beams crossed at a joint is an architectural necessity. Two beams crossed could also be a religious symbol or icon.

The above icon was on site at the new World Trade Center rising. It was temporarily moved two blocks to the side of St. Peter’s RC church on Church Street to make way for new construction. It will be returned to the finished WTC II. There will be no problem with a possible religious icon being displayed on private or corporate property, which the WTC is.

Ran into the following story whereby an American Legion War Memorial got put up in the California desert, with a cross, over eighty years ago. Somebody sued the government, the owner of the public land where the war memorial sits, and the case has been in and out of court all the way up to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court found in favor of the memorial.

Mojave cross at center of court fight reported stolen
A war memorial shaped like a cross that has been at the center of a Supreme Court fight has been torn down by vandals from its remote perch in a California desert….
The high court on April 28 ruled the cross did not violate the constitutional separation of church and state. The American Civil Liberties Union, which had brought the original lawsuit to have the cross removed, promised to continue the court fight….
The Latin cross was first erected in 1934 by a local VFW unit to honor war dead. It has been rebuilt several times over the years, and Easter services are held annually at the remote desert site. The site is on national park land that totals about 1.6 million acres, or 2,500 square miles….
The justices did not completely resolve the fight over the fate of the cross, but the conservative majority re-affirmed recent rulings that there is a limited place for religious symbols on government land.

"It is reasonable to interpret the congressional designation as giving recognition to the historical meaning that the cross had attained," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy. "The Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion's role in society."
Other quotes from this Supreme Court case that overturned the objection to this one case in particular but not setting any future precedents on the matter:

Supreme Court overturns objection to cross on public land
To Kennedy, the cross "is not merely a reaffirmation of Christian beliefs" but a symbol "often used to honor and respect" heroism.
He added: "Here, one Latin cross in the desert evokes far more than religion. It evokes thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles, battles whose tragedies are compounded if the fallen are forgotten."

Dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens said: "The cross is not a universal symbol of sacrifice. It is the symbol of one particular sacrifice, and that sacrifice carries deeply significant meaning for those who adhere to the Christian faith."
As I have stated in this blog previously, I, as a secularist, do not object to all religious icons that have been there for decades and are therefore “grandfathered” so to speak into American public spaces and landscapes.

Now, with this haphazard crony nomination of Elena Kagan to the future 2/3 Catholic and 1/3 Jewish U.S. Supreme Court, I have to wonder if opinions such as by Justice Kennedy should not be more aptly labeled in the future as the opinion of Catholic Justice Kennedy.

My feeling is that all future cases to the Supreme Court will be tainted in terms of the extremely narrow cultural/religious diversity now seen on the Court.

So it goes.

Sarah Palin and the New American Fascism

With a dying Old Age of Boomers and Boomer Parents, there was an attempt to stir up rage on the right about the recent ruling that the so-called National Day of Prayer as mandated by Congress in 1952 was unconstitutional.

Indeed, Boomer Franklin Graham and his unmeasured hate sounding anti-Islam statements got him thrown off a scheduled National Prayer Day invite list at the Pentagon.

Franklin should do some research. The Air Force Academy makes room for Druids and any other religious beliefs of its cadets. The Pentagon at least on the spiritual side does not want to hear boilerplate Cold War sounding rhetoric from Franklin dissing Muslims. Franklin of course is trying to protect a meal ticket event like the NPD campaigned for by his Dad and company and imposed on the population in Harry Truman’s time.

The Prayer Day thing got greatly unnoticed. One and a half generations are fading away. The American Town Square and the forced compliance to be Politically Correct about religion or join the right white church on Town Square does not matter anymore. The world is global and nobody cares except Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin, is turning herself into the spokesperson, a product line icon identifying with what appears to be fascist themes that make her paid sponsors happy.

Sarah Palin, who along with the far right wants to return America to the so-called Christian nation started by the founding fathers.


O'REILLY: All I have to do is walk into the Supreme Court chamber and you'll see the 10 Commandments. And so we know that you're absolutely correct. The Founding Fathers did base not only the Declaration of Independence but the constitutional protections on what they thought was right and wrong. And what they thought was right and wrong came from the 10 Commandments, which is Judeo-Christian philosophy. That is beyond a reasonable doubt.But here is what's happened. America has, as they say in California, evolved. And now we're a much more secular nation than we were back in 1776. So the opponents of spirituality in the public marketplace say, "Hey, this is a violation. We can't be pushing any kind of spirituality." And you answer?
PALIN: Well, that new kind of world view that I think is kind of a step towards a fundamental transformation of America that some want to see today, I think, again, that it is an attempt to revisit and rewrite history. I think we should kind of keep this clean, keep it simple, go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant. They're quite clear that we would create law based on the God of the Bible and the 10 Commandments. It's pretty simple. I think what's missing in...
The founding fathers did not found a Christian Nation. They founded a Secular Nation. They did not want anything to do with religion. They and their immediate ancestors fled Europe and Europe’s religion obsessions and religious wars.

One of the founding fathers in the following quotes later on does not reflect Sarah Palin’s valium induced visions for a future Christian America.

Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills.

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, January 24, 1814
That if anything, considering the twelve million dollars Sarah Palin earned last year speaking, “Writing” etc., she is becoming a Betty Furness of the Right Wing Causes. (Betty was an early famous TV spokesperson for Westinghouse products 1950s, 1960s.)

Even if Sarah does not know what she is endorsing for a price on FOX etc., she is in fact becoming IMHO spokesperson for a not growing as yet but very vocal through her – an American Fascist Party movement not unlike the one described below. With the Tea Party being a slice of and seeds of that movement.

Is the Christian Right a Fascist Movement?

In his new book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (Free Press, 2007), veteran journalist and bestselling author Hedges argues that the Christian fundamentalist movement emerging today in the United States resembles the early fascist movements in Italy and Germany in the beginning of the last century. This radical Christian movement, known as Dominionism, promotes the Christian faith and patriotism as a means to gaining more political power.

Hedges contends that the Dominionist movement has many of the same characteristics as fascism: a claim for moral and physical supremacy of a master race, in this case American Christians; blind obedience to a male hierarchy that often claims to speak for God; intolerance toward non-believers; and disdain for rational intellectual inquiry. This movement’s goal is for America to become a theocratic, totalitarian country.
The founding fathers were more interested in a democracy of slave and factory owners.

National Days of Prayer and references to the Christian Nation of the founding fathers is pure delusion Sarah darling.