Sunday, October 24, 2010

Secularism and the Tea Party

Christianity and the Tea Party = zero.

It does not take rocket science to notice the underlying unchristian message of the so called Tea Party political movement.

The primary underslying message of racism accumulates evidence with birthers who claim that the President was not even born in this country. Obama was born in Hawaii, one of those last two strange states that entered the union in 1959. Hawaii is the one with a bunch of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Alaska is the large chunk of ice west of Canada.

Alaska has bred a favorite daughter in the form of Sarah Palin, a half term Governor. Palin’s Tea Party appeal of uttering words, verbal clutter onto the media airwaves does not make her a media whore but she is trying. While no direct racist, Palin buddies up to every screwball idea that comes out of the seemingly disenfranchised white middle class movement. In a way, her’s is part of a populist movement that springs up in hard times in America. The times make Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin shapes nothing and just stands there signing American flags for fans.

Together or separately, the Tea Party represents dissent. Big government is a problem if it is mismanaged. It is. But it is mismanaged by the Congress that puts politics first and fiscal responsibility second, third or wherever.

The Tea Party comes at you with more angles than a hand cut diamond. Birthers, anti-large government, get rid of minimum wage and social security, eliminate citizenship for the children born here of illegal immigrants etc. This makes for a stew of many flavors and textures. Nothing but fiscal responsibility and a good economy will get America out of its present economic hole in the ground.

Politics need to change to cooperation, a Christian virtue, on both sides of the aisle if that is the stated goal of a future together and not the future separate and splintered into a thousand petty interests. Chaos. Chaos is definitely a breeding ground of things unchristian.

When I use the word unchristian up front, I am talking about the lack of empathy that the average Tea Party-er has for the other guy in America. Eliminating the minimum wage or social security is kinda anti-human – would you not say?

Social safety nets help keep the big ball of wax together and moving along. Draconian nineteenth century ideas need not apply to the present situation which is what most Tea Party ideas end up sounding like.

So in the midst of entrenched secularism and atheism, the Tea Party sits waging its own agenda using standards surrounding them, namely secular, and definitely not Christian.

The GOP, having been the Christian Party these past twenty odd years now waits for Tea Party dissent to translate into votes for what is now a secular agenda of the moneyed few against the masses it would appear to me.

The media is partly to blame for this. The corporations that own the media are also part of some at present grand conspiracy of everyone having America shooting itself in the foot on real issues rather than cooperate and get back to being a reasonable great country again.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tastykakes and the Like


Orange candy slices

Dusted in confectioner’s

Sugar

Call to mind a childhood

Treat sold without

Wrapping and handled

By the candy store

Owner’s bare hands.

The world really was

Unwrapped at one point.

No apology.

Things tasted better too

No time expiration date.

If it was good, it was gone

Before you knew it.

Global does not mean good

It just means bigger –

Not better than before.

Potato chips and pretzels

Were sold by the pound

And dispensed out of tin

Cans with glass and metal lids

At the grocer’s main counter.

Put into plain brown paper bags.

More hand work. No gloves.

You knew the grocer. He was

Your neighbor too in a way.

The world stood flat and small

And secure. Which brings me

Back to Tastykakes in Philly

And the exoticness of eating

Pie without a slice in a pan

But getting the essence of pie

In a paper package. Oh the

Calories of pure sugar.

Pies and chocolate cupcakes.

Mom’s never tasted as good

As packaged heaven in a

Lunchtime snack.

And the soda pops

Frank’s had real flavors

All full 12 ounces

Orange, cherry, grape

Even pineapple (yuk)

Got talked into that one by

The grocer trying to move

An unfavorite flavor.

Can still taste disappointment

On my tongue to this day.

Oh well. Potato salad was

Also sold by the pound.

Bring your own dish

And I brought it home

On my tricycle. Can’t imagine

How I did not break the bowl?

And rye bread on the weekend

No paper package – just a paper

Union made stamp glued onto the

Crust. Consumed on Sunday

For breakfast with bacon, eggs

And home fries. Amazing how

Much memory sings when you

Bite into a Tastykake

Or the like that has

Not changed that much over

Some decades back to your

Childhood.



Raymond Burke - Pope Pius XIII ?


Perrhaps this is all petty on my part. But I have to say something.

Joe the Pope has just named 24 new cardinals, bishops to the red hat. Two Americans, two bureaucratic hacks, Archbishop Wuerl of Washington D.C. and Archbishop Raymond Burke of the equivalent of a Vatican Supreme Court have scored an appointment.

Wuerl’s witch hunt for gay spouses, domestic partners, on healthcare for diocese employees and Burke’s remarks, demands, cold steel in John Kerry’s back during the 2004 Presidential campaign have not gone unrewarded. Burke as “Scalia of God”, possibly changing the outcome of an election.

I called Wuerl’s witch hunt “creative hate” as directed to a minority that has no sanctions with the church. Those are strong words but I felt them at the time of the incident in March.  I still do.

I don’t see anything happening for Donny on the Pope scene. I do see a behind the scenes American conservative plot to get Latin mass Burke elected as an ultra-conservative and first American born pope.

Ray and the Vatican hierarchy only represents themselves and not the vast majority of all shades of Christianity, myself included.

Part of the Abuse scandals in the RC church began and ended with Vatican procedures which did or did not exist over recent decades. Where was Donny or Ray? Unity of doctrine is a necessary part of any institution but the church fumbled every step of the way on the abuse issue and is still fumbling.

I fear great damage to or the end of Christianity as we know it if Ray Burke ever gets elected as Pope, a Pius XIII.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Atheism - defining it

Without God. Without Religion. Without sensitivity to human values. A great big ugly me only world. Greed. Progress. Secularism. How do you define atheism?

No easy or simple definition. The civilization that has evolved since the last ice age is strutting somewhat sans many of the ancient belief or superstition operating systems these days.

Cold, mechanical, soulless. The modern age is the modern age. Some of us see the lack of culture everyday related to a lack of respect for centuries old traditions that many times are also the local culture or the local religion.

A burger from a Yankee fast food place is symbolic of the changing face of global culture, capitalism and human values.

The American middle class model, which the whole world seems to desire, will strip the planet of all dignity and resources unless we somehow learn to not only conserve but preserve traditional ways.

Global integration to some godless model or ideal stands side by side with long standing models. Tomorrow is as bleak as we individually choose to make life. That, without outside forces of economics pushing us along an uncharted untraveled road of life.

The message of Jesus in his Gospels is as real and raw as it was two thousand years ago. A man’s soul is perhaps the sum of all the values that a man holds in life. If we serve ourselves, do we serve others as well? How to live in the world and to be free from the outside forces of change that want us to conform to somebody else’s model of living.

Some Christians may fear atheism as a belief system. Some Christians do not practice what they preach or understand the message.

The message is not to sell your soul in this life and to prepare for a kingdom not of this earth after we pass away. Godless, soulless atheism has always existed in the selfish ways of men and women.

The capacity to bring heaven to earth has always been there. Trick is in trying to focus on the goals of Jesus’ message to love your neighbor as yourselves and in equal measure to attachment and love for the Creator God.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Angela Merkel - Racist?

A new round of playing to the paying masses.  Multiculturalism does not work according to the Chanchellor of Germany.  Shades of veiled 1930's German rhetoric???  Racism?

Amidst the politicians catering rhetoric to the xenophobic masses of Merkel’s Germany is a brief article denouncing her opinion.  

Why Angela Merkel is wrong about ‘multiculturalism’
As a religious and cultural atheist that grew up in a Muslim family I admit to being somewhat torn.

Torn between meh, it’s not me they’re targeting and oh crap, it’s my mum they’re targeting. What is clear, however, is that the inflammatory words of craven politicians hoping to exploit fear of another to secure their arthritic grasp on power misses the damn point.

I grew up in a society that allowed the son of an immigrant to turn potential into ability and into achievement. It did so, broadly, free of any prejudice based on my religious upbringing or ethnicity.

The global future demands multiculturalism to work much in the way it has worked in the United States up until this point.  Bad economic times may turn opinions gray but the truth is that there is no going back to the world of the 1970’s and before.

Mary MacKillop, Saint of Oz


There is a certain magic in the RC church when they do the old thing right – proclaim saints of common people. These dead holy saints are supposed to inspire us spiritually and make us more spiritual as well.

In the case of Australia’s first saint, Saint Mary MacKillop, 1842-1909, a lot of the nitty gritty of founding and managing a religious order down under is secondary to her having routed out an abusive priest in the ranks of the faithful.

Nun whose order fought abuse becomes saint
 
Mary got excommunicated in retaliation for her initiating the courage to speak out against an abusing priest. Politics in the church remains the same then as now. Only later, in retrospect, do we see what a lifetime of prayer and sacrifice can do and what effect it has on the life of Christ’s Church and the life of a nation, Australia.

Indeed, Mary, Saint Mary of the Cross Mackillop today, shows us how hard work and spirituality can make a difference in so many lives.

The RC church as the largest arm of the Christian faith continues to proclaim saints of the deceased as examples of spirituality or how it should work in everyday life.

The pictures of Mary MacKillop show an intense look. One has to wonder sometimes how saintly one was really in life as opposed to looking at the whole matter post mortem.

In any case the life of the RC church goes on despite human nature and the human nature of the church behind the divine founding and reasoning of a large institution that brings spiritual success stories to the forefront of everyday endeavors.

I don’t necessarily pray to saints as much at to God direct. It is interesting however the RC tradition of trying to attract a saint to be your middle man or woman with God.

The Christian faith is diverse and ancient and ever seeking a new way of expressing “thy will be done on earth”.

Amen.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Morality, Gravity and Foreclosures



This week the banks backed off of foreclosures because the paperwork involved in 19th century protocols that 21st century computers did not have a clue about.

The morality of foreclosure never existed. The legality of having the right papers to sign in mass foreclosure brought even the mighty banks to a temporary halt. Or at least until a judge somewhere says go ahead with the process.

The computer speeds things up and creates volume. It does not however create quality or accuracy. These front office jockeys who have outsourced half our jobs off to China and India do not know how the back office works or is supposed to work.

It is as if corporations are all sitting in luxury carriages and have dismissed the horse and coachman mainly due to the expense of the horse and the coachman’s meager wages. It all goes unnoticed if the traffic is all down hill which it is at the moment. Does gravity really run our largest corporations at the present moment and not common sense???

God save us all from the U.S.S. Titanic mindset of the idiots in charge of business and government.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Age of Disappointment (in us)

Age of disappointment


When them that has – has

And thems that don’t have – Don’t

Anymore.

No increase COLA, Social Security

Cost of Living Adjustment,

won’t go through again for next year.

Starve the elderly and the Disabled

Shouts the press (obsolete).

Functions the Gov’ment

(dys-func-tion-al)

Oh well. Horatio Alger is not dead.

Was he ever really alive?

A nation’s social obligations stop

At the door to the Senate.

Powerful guys and “C” street pagans.

Oh well again. It is an age of

Disappointment in the waste of brains

It takes to not run a corporation right.

People were factored out a long time

Ago in any economic equation.

Tax equation especially.

Anybody with an MBA knows that.

Business, the new secular religion

What does that mean?

Worship of the buck – oh f**k

That what that means.

Religion is dead. Christ too by

Last count – oh Christian church

What do you stand for?

Sin and Salvation.

What ever happened to people

To life, to day to day living?

Wholistic life - medicine???

Yeah right!

One hundred odd words to go.

Age of disappointment

In people, institutions, religion

Where do we turn this thing around?

When???

Too many college degrees (aside)

Practical, manual, labor used

To build nations. Other nations,

not us Anymore.

Now spreadsheet jockeys only Jockey

(don’t know the horse)

And make paper profits on computers

Computers. Another disappointment.

The ability of a robot to make a

Better world. Whose world-

middle class world?

Shrinking class. A disappointment.!?

Boomers mostly, then X

What did I do to change the world?

Very little. Just Death and taxes

To fall back on. That’s my excuse.

What’s yours?

Taxes. Taxes. Taxes.

Age of Disappointment

Crash coming - of faith -

In the system, in the day -

In the flow of it all.

What does the world look like

Feel like tomorrow?

Blah! America.

Age of low expectations.

Age of disappointment.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wayback Machine

“Wayback Machine”


The photo on facebook

Was labeled as “Wayback Machine”

It was a group photo

Of the Choir at some

Ancient catholic school

I went to as a child.

Posted by Lou Gould.



The group of the choir

Is of children, were we

That really young or

Small as well?



Don’t remember a group photo

Of the Altar Boys ever being taken.

Ashame not to be able to see

Myself as so young and small

And wearing the best dress

Of White Cassock and

Red Cape, Gloves, starched Collar

And red silk bow. How Formal!



Standing on the main staircase

Of Saint Joan of Arc in

Philly is a revelation to me.

The staircase does not seem

As wide as memory would

Have me believe.



Atop many steps of many

Boys in Black Cassocks

And White Surpluses

Are the eighth graders

Attired in White Cassock

And Red Cape.



The Altar Boys also wore

White and red on

Special occasions. Easter,

Christmas, Bishop’s visit.

And the pastor used to

Whistle through his teeth

And he spoke and gave

Homilies.



And “Spongy”, Sister Sponsa Regis,

In charge of the altar boys.

Her favorite line to the Altar Boys

Who got too rowdy in the changing

Room was “You are convenient but

Not necessary” for the service

About to start. Silence. Dead

Silence. Got us every time.



The school is closed now

Designed by George Audsley,

A renaissance man by any

Standard. 11 Broadway,

St Joan of Arc and the

Wanamaker Organ. What

A mind!



Memory to refresh, reboot

Sometimes to see a final

Perspective. A lot of eyeglasses

On a lot of kids in a

Crowded picture.



Memories don’t remember

Sometimes until one sees

The facts, the photo, the past.

Amen.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Micah Challenge - Praying for the poor

Micah Challenge - Praying for the poor

An article from Britain and the worldwide prayer for justice tomorrow.


In the light of recent discussion of prayers, it's worth considering that 60 million evangelical Christians around the world will be praying tomorrow for justice around the world in the hope of abolishing extreme poverty. Leaving God out of it, as they would not wish to do, this is still an impressive and potentially important ritual, because it marks a turn towards social justice from one of the most traditionally conservative kinds of Christianity.
The prayer will be used in churches around the globe on 10.10.10. A children's prayer is also available.

O Lord, our great and awesome God, loyal to your promise of love and faithful to all who honour and obey you, hear our prayer.

We pray for those who live in poverty,

we cry out for those who are denied justice and

we weep for all who are suffering.

We confess that we have not always obeyed you.

We have neglected your commands and have ignored your call for justice.

We have been guided by self-interest and lived in spiritual poverty.

Forgive us.

We remember your promises to fill the hungry with good things, to redeem the land by your mighty hand and to restore peace.

Father God, help us always to proclaim your justice and mercy with humility, so that, by the power of your Spirit, we can rid the world of the sin of extreme poverty.

As part of your global church, we stand with millions who praise and worship you.

May our words and deeds declare your perfect goodness, love and righteousness to both the powerful and the powerless

so that your Kingdom may come on earth as it is in heaven. Amen

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Repurpose, Emerging, Christ

The word “repurpose” came up on TV as a substitute for the word recycle and reuse. I heard the word and thought of the emerging church movement that wants to adapt to a post modern way of doing things in worship.


The word repurpose touches something in me that says that maybe the emerging church movement should step back and look at the original purpose of Jesus and his gospels and look less at institution(s) that have in fact emerged around Jesus and his message over the centuries.

Indidvidually, people should decide what is needed in their hearts in response to the message of Jesus. Then institutions should recycle tradition around repurpose together with the individual and grow into the next centuries long phase of the Christian Spirit and Church.

Amanpour and the “Radical Mosque”


In her approach to reshape her new anchor of This Week on ABC, Christiane Amanpour should be applauded for her efforts to increase the dialogue in the public forum. No statue of George Will this week to parrot the right view.

The “radical Mosque” is a term used by evangelical Gary Bauer on ABC’s This Week with Christiane Amanpour to describe the average place of Muslim worship infiltrated by “radical Islam”.

The show this week was a forum format – a “digital town hall” - with many people in the news discussing among other things the proposed Islamic Center proposed for two blocks from the new World Trade Center.

In the move forward toward the future, there is still a lot of anger in America and fear toward the religion of Islam.

I have no answers. The act of violence of 911 opened a door to America whereby its basic beliefs among them the concept of the freedom of Religion was brought to the forefront to include a once foreign to Europeans belief of Islam.

Time will hopefully heal the wounds of 911. Time will hopefully make it okay to have an historically alien to European culture religion exist in Ameria.

I believe that the Islamic Cultural Center in lower Manhattan will be built. The original presentation had too many loose ends that eventually invited dissent on the matter. Too many things to mention. The location of two blocks from the old WTC is the main trigger for a lot of people who are still lingering in the past and have not addressed the new world of post 911 reality.

A globally small world of the future will have to feel comfortable with all beliefs and religions. It is hard ground to take or shape in that possible new Global Village reshaped after 911.

America’s traditional isolation ended 911 and a brave new world was born. Practicing one’s religion will continue in America. Tolerance has to make a notch or two upward on our scales of recognition. The whole thing to heal takes time and effort. Think positively.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

thoughts of the day

Shades of color and subtlety count.

Metaphors and symbols matter.

Gelt lends credence to any idea.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pew Forum Test on Religion

More on the Pew Forum Survey regardng ignorance about religion in America.  Take an abbreviated test from the same longer survey.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What do you know about God?

An interesting article about stats and who knows what etc. about God and religion.  The numbers are an interesting insight into the whole complex matter of ideas and realities regarding religion.

Atheists, agnostics most knowledgeable about religion, survey says

A majority of Protestants, for instance, couldn't identify Martin Luther as the driving force behind the Protestant Reformation, according to the survey, released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Four in 10 Catholics misunderstood the meaning of their church's central ritual, incorrectly saying that the bread and wine used in Holy Communion are intended to merely symbolize the body and blood of Christ, not actually become them.


Atheists and agnostics — those who believe there is no God or who aren't sure — were more likely to answer the survey's questions correctly. Jews and Mormons ranked just below them in the survey's measurement of religious knowledge — so close as to be statistically tied.

So why would an atheist know more about religion than a Christian?

Monday, September 27, 2010

"Beloved and Respected Teachers"

A lot a talk about improving education these days.  Here is something from the past regarding something perhaps missing in the modern education equation.



Boston English High school is listed as the oldest public high school in the United States founded in 1821.




Most notable among its alumni are J. P Morgan, financier, Louis Sullivan, architect, Leonard Nimoy, actor, Louis Farrakhan, Nation of Islam and two American Generals, William H.C.Whiting CSA, and Matthew Ridgway.



The school started out to give a practical no frills Yankee style education for those going beyond grade school in the early part of our republic. No frills meant that it taught English but no Latin as in a more traditional academic setting of the time.



I was not familiar with the history of the institution until I ran across some documents in a flea market. The penmanship alone of one bygone document overwhelmed me. I will shortly share some of the words attached to that bygone penmanship.



You can look back on your own education. You can look at the education your child is receiving. You see many discrepancies in how a newer generation is being taught and wonder what values taught to you have been discounted in the process of the progress of American civilization.



Your child's homework makes them busy. Assignments on the Internet and cardboard story boards that the parent should not but does invariably finish for the child seem the norm. But is the child being taught? What do teachers do these days besides measure your child in standardized tests and following the current flavor of the decade teaching modi operandi?



Let me step back and not take away from anyone's credentials or their attempt to educate in this bizarre new global existence.



I was taken aback by the Valedictory speech of a graduating student from "English High School" in July 1852. The words here say a lot about teachers and the gratitude that students should return to efforts made on their behalf. The following is an example of Yankee no frills education.



Valedictory:



"The class of which I am a member, has now completed the usual academic course, in this Institution. We are about to separate and enter other spheres of duty. But before that separation takes place, one last office still remains to be performed. It is to take leave of our friends. It is to testify our gratitude to those who have helped us onward during our past lives and to encourage each other, in the onward path, which each of us may have chosen.



Beloved and respected teachers -To you, who have so faithfully attended to your arduous duties, we must first testify our gratitude.



You have endeavored to instill into our minds, those principles, and form in us, those habits, which would most securely stand against temptations and evils by which we may be assailed. You have instructed us on those things, which would qualify us for pursuing an honest and useful life. You have in all things, sought our good.



Nor, under Providence, shall your labor be in vain. If successful in our future lives, much of our success must be attributed to your aid. We are now to redesign your guidance and instruction. The happy hours we have here enjoyed, will never be repeated.



But though removed from your immediate influences, yet the lessons you have given, will still continue to teach us. We shall hear their echo, telling us what path of life and duty to choose. We shall feel their influence, continually urging us forward in all good deeds, and warning us to reflect, when temptations shall beset our paths. In more advanced periods, when we come to reflect upon our past lives, we shall refer to this portion, with pleasure. We shall recall the many pleasant hours we have here enjoyed, and the many valuable instructions we have received. Our teachers will be remembered with feelings of gratitude and respect.



We shall remember this devotedness to our happiness and welfare. We would say then, - go on in the work , the noble useful work, in which you are engaged.

Continue your endeavors to improve the young, and although your reward may not be immediate, yet it will be certain. And you, who are to continue your studies in this school, especially you, who are so soon to occupy our places in this room, we would exhort, to make the best use of your time, improve every opportunity and you will not regret it. Your advantages for obtaining a good education, are unusual.



Do not then, by neglecting them, bring regret and sorrow upon yourselves, in after years. Consider that, although one neglected advantage may seem but a small loss, yet it serves to swell, and may very seriously increase the aggregate of losses. Remember, that the cares of your teacher are very great. Do not, therefore, multiply them, by misconduct on your part, but rather alleviate them, by your attention to his instructions, and to your duty. And when, in future years, you come to look back upon your school days, may you be comforted by the reflection, that you have, in all things, endeavored to do your best.



Fellow Classmates, we now part with this school and with each other..."



Valedictory. Composed and spoken by C.F.Wyman, July 26, 1852, Boston, Mass.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Church vs. Facebook and Social Networks

There is a movie out about Facebook, “The Social Network”. If you know anything about Facebook you know it is a place where people hangout with “friends” on a computer and not necessarily in real life. Though photos of a party or two appear, this is the modern version of the town square for a lot of young people.


Don’t know is this electronic trend to know people on a tube will last. It seems to me that if you want to meet people, the best place still available is in a church setting and not just on a Sunday. Church is real. Facebook is a social blur. The pendulum may swing back and people may want to touch other people for real in person like the old fashioned way.

Church or churches if they still are open may be the place in the future for reality and a real true social network for many as they grow older and as they continue to be for many more to this day.