Monday, March 16, 2009

Shame in Colorado

That religious fanatics managed to hijack and nearly destroy the once-esteemed Republican Party became evident after the strange events that led up to and culminated in the US presidential election of 2000. Kept out of public media was any discussion of the undemocratic role played by the US Supreme Court, dominated by staunch Catholics, which overrode the popular vote to install an unstable man (and two-time felon) as President. The nation was then rapidly plunged into an illegal war, attacks on Constitutional rights, priority given to special interests, siphoning tax money into "faith based" schemes, illegal surveillances, and the authorization of a torture policy that sneered at international agreement against such inhumane practices.

Such corruption of government can be laid on the shoulders of religious fanaticism that seeks to gratify material lust by indulging in hate-filled agendas. Such is the case of the Colorado "conservatives" (read religious fanatics), sentators Dave Schultheis (R-Colorado Springs) and Scott Renfroe (R-Greeley) braying their ignorance and pompously displaying their lack of compassion for life.

Schultheis' dogmatic politics is underscored in his "Christian" (?) attitude: emergency rooms should allow victims of violence to die if they have not been to church in the past month: and he considers it a waste of money to run public service announcements in Spanish warning possible illegal immigrants to buckle their seatbelts. But most appalling of his self-righteous pronouncements has been his opposition to pregnant women being tested for HIV, a procedure that could catch the infection early enough to prevent it from spreading to the unborn child. Schulteis' judgment is that the mother should pass the deadly virus to the infants so that the suffering would remind society of the negative consequences of sexual promiscuity. Maybe then, he is quoted as saying, that unnecessary misery would show that "...they should adjust their behavior." Of course this shows that his own behavior is impeccable.

And Schultheis' dogmatic contemporary, Scott Renfroe, likes to quote Old Testament hate statements on the Senate floor. His personal obsession is gay life, and he has it from "revealed word" (as edited by 8th century BCE priests) that gays "have committed a detestable act and they shall surely be put to death." (Strange, isn't it, how often the rampaging religionists ignore the Commandment, Thou shalt not kill.) Renfroe then went on, after calling for death for consenting same-sex acts, to compare homosexuality with murder! Renfroe thus openly encourages attitudes of prejudice and supports violence upon life's diversity. But then again, that is what much of the OT is all about.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Crisis of Faith

Faith, the kind that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence, is pretty much an inherited thing from parents and society, and it habitually lumbers under the mantle of some religion that has evolved while its promoters pursued worldly objectives. Unfortunately, that drive to prove to the world that some institutionalized belief system is the only way to storm an indifferent Heaven signals that the bottomline aimed for by that promotion system rests entirely in this world, not in a higher realm.

Pretending that mystical power aids them in exerting control over this material world becomes questionable when the omnipresent-omnipotent-omniscient deity that is alluded to apparently has to rely on militant actions of mere man to fulfill his wishes. Something just doesn't add up to the deity's claimed divine capabilities.

Reality--which is to say the everyday problems experienced in the material expression we call life--is not well served when believers are assured that natural laws can be set aside if you only believe a certain way--their way. The universe would implode if exceptions to bypass creation's laws were granted. That is wilfull ignorance of holy truth--the truth that each identity stands responsible for itself: the buck cannot be passed to a redeemer or savior, or patched over by rite and ritual. And Paradise cannot be gained by disrespect for other life forms or other life expressions.

In every man-conceived faith system--especially in the western world-- an uncomfortable feeling lurks in the heart of "believers," --a sense of disjunction with that which is presented as the Supreme Being. The claimed closeness to and the simultaneous feeling of alienation from that Being does not make for comfort in the inner self. The result is a confusion of "faith" that too often becomes the trigger that initiates an indulgence in senseless acts of violence and hatred toward others. What that "faith" has blinded them to is the fact that what one does to another leaves crippling scars within the self.

Evil does not lurk in the diverse expressions of life as hard-line bigots may rail, nor is one an "infidel" if their reverence for the Source of all things is expressed from one's heart rather than in programmed posturing. One's faith is in crisis when they are led into a conceit of spirit that leaves the world around them in shambles.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fish or Cross

When the movement that was to grow into Christianity was being initiated out of Rome (not Palestine), the earth had only recently, c.60 BCE, entered the Age of Pisces. An "Age" is the period of time during which the Sun rises and traverses over a dominant constellation at the vernal equinox, a period of time that lasts some 2160 years. This slow shifting viewpoint of Earth's relationship with the cosmos is known as precession of the equinoxes.

Earth had just exited from the Age of Aries (c.2220 BCE to c. 60 BCE), during which the ram and lamb had played prominent roles in various religious movements of the world. Prior to that, in the Age of Taurus (c. 4380 BCE to c. 2220 BCE), the bull (and cow) had been focus of much of the world's religious attention.

In the early years of the Christian movement the symbol used by the cult as an indicator to other followers was of two arched lines that suggested a fish form. The arched symbol would be the standard for the struggling society well into the third century CE. (How, where and why this early symbol for the movement was replaced by the cross is given in detail in Time Frames and Taboo Data.) The cross as emblematic of Jesus' death, allegedly for world salvation, was not regarded to be symbolic of the instructive teachings of the master that were held central to the earlier emerging society.

Proof of the importance given to the fish symbol was uncovered not long ago at Megiddo Prison, Israel, where the remains of an early church were discovered under rubble being removed from a planned site of a new prison ward. There was much awe and excitement at finding two mosaics, one of which had as its central focus a depiction of two fishes, each facing opposite directions--acknowledgement of the new Age of Pisces.

Considerable hype was given to the ancient Christian symbol in the mosaic as predating the stark cross, and that the Greek writing used in inscriptions revealed that the money for the church and the mosaics were donated by a Roman officer and a woman named Aketous. The depiction of the two fish forms indicate that the church was active up to the fourth century--or just before Constantine, who recognized the political clout of the fanatical converts, legalized Christian observances across the Byzantine Empire.

After the fourth century CE, altars also began to be used in Christian churches for priestly theatrics, and focus was deliberately altered from the fish symbol to the cross to emphasize Jesus' sacrifice for the believers. With Jesus' death thus installed as the central theme of the movment, ritual and circumstance were made to overshadow all the early teaching that had once offered a means of experiencing inner peace.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Codes of Conduct

As far back in time as c. 2600 BCE a ruler of Sumer named Urukagina found so much immoral activity throughout his empire that it became necessary for him to enact prohibitions against the rampant corruptness. The long inscription erected by this ruler for the people to comply with is regarded as the first-ever record of social reform, and the code of conduct that was expected of the people was anchored on an ideal of freedom, equality and justice.

A few of the many injustices that Urukagina addressed included the unfair use of their powers by supervisors to take the best of collections for themselves; the abuse of one's official position; the practice of monopolistic groups to extort unbearable prices on needed goods--in short, the same practices that still taint the religio-politico in-crowd of today.

By c. 2300 BCE the Assyrian civilization had compounded out of the Babylonian and Hittie cultures, and the Akkadian leader named Sargon I had become the supreme ruler--under the designation as "regent of the god Assur"--his influence being over a broad territory that nonetheless remained dependent upon Babylon. Corruption, as usual, interfered with the ideal of keeping an element of balance in civil affairs. Thus around 2350 BCE laws were determined and recorded on clay tablets, laws that were declared to have been presented to King Urnammu under the authority of the god Nannar.

Approximately eight hundred and fifty years after the Sumerian code of Urukagina, and some five hundred years after the Assyrian laws (or c. 1758 BCE), a Babylonian king named Hammurabi decreed a similar code of justice and set up the means to enforce it. Hammurabi's code was engraved on a block of black diorite that stood nearly eight feet high, and the provisions set forth for the public to read and heed was an effort to protect the weak and the poor against injustices at the hands of the rich and powerful. Interestingly, a bas-relief under the 282 paragraphs of the civil code show King Hammurabi receiving the code from the god Shamash.

It is upon this code of conduct that the authors of the book of Exodus fashioned the abbreviated version of a code of conduct known as the Ten Commandments, and law (anchored in materiality and civil conduct) became enthroned as the soul and backbone of Judaism--as well as the grafted-on spine of Christianity. And of course the priest authors of Exodus writing in Jerusalem c. 800 BCE declared that the Ten Commandments had been written in stone and handed down to Moses by the god Yahweh.
There is a peculiar uncertainty of approach with the opening lines, for omnipotent power should not be anxious about a possibility of being upstaged. But the first three of the ten directives do imply the authority of the priest class. And conspicuously absent from this god-given list is any instruction or requirements on treating everyone fairly in all interactions. Could this possibly be why fundamentalists periodically campaign to have the Ten Commandments posted in all judicial buildings and other public places?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Embellishing the Inaugural Oath

Unlike many federal oaths of office, the oath taken by the incoming President of the US is not constitutionally required to embellish upon the oath with a public entreaty of "so help me god." Indeed the constitution agreed upon by the founding fathers mandated the exact language to be publicly recited as the oath of public office, which consisted of a mere thirty-five words.

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

History revisionists love to insist that the United States was founded as "a Christian nation," but while most of the founding fathers acknowledged a higher power few of them could be termed as even remotely hardcore religionists. In fact the centuries of turmoil throughout Europe's Christian nations made them determined that separation of church and state was absolutely imperative if a fair and just government for all people was to be established.

A favorite ploy of revisionists is to claim that George Washington established the precedent of invoking the phrase "so help me god" into the first inaugural in 1789. But even though the Library of Congress Web site dutifully echoes this claim, such a public statement appealing to a deity would not have been characteristic of Washington. Much more likely, such a phrase would have been judged by him as something that could be mistaken for an endorsement of religious manipulation.

Washington's personal inclination in this regard can be ascertained in one incident. During the two years that New York City served as the national capital (1789-1790) Washington attended Trinity Church (Broadway), always in pew 60. But he always left the church before communion, a situation that irked the church shepherds to the extent that they chastised him for the habit. Because of this obvious attempt to impose upon his personal faith, Washington never again attended church on communion Sunday.1 This action does not inspire the concept that he would have jeopardized the integrity of office with an off the cuff addition "so help me god."

Furthermore, the men who framed the Constitution gave no reference to "god," and asserted that all men were created with the inalienable rights to live their lives in their own way--as long as it did not intrude upon the rights of others.

As an added note, the War of Independence with Britain was not over officially until twenty-one years after 1776 when, in 1797, the document of treaty was signed by both nation's representatives who met in Tripoli. There is bold declaration in that treaty to be found in Article 11--daring and important enough to merit bold type.

"The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion."


1 Around 146 years later (1935) this same church used Washington's words out of context from a 1783 letter addressed to governors of 13 states to forge a prayer attributed to Washington and the plaque was installed at pew 60. Details of this on page 377 in Time Frames and Taboo Data

Monday, February 16, 2009

Planning for Worldly Triumph

An earlier posting (October 2008) mulled over the rise of the faith market in the US after World War II and the utilization of the then-new technological wonder known as television. In the 1950s enterprising soul-savers still clutching their newly minted bible-mill diplomas, and sniffing the gold to be made through the far-reaching media, latched on to electronic ministry with holy lust. In those early days the divinely driven were complaining bitterly that the media ignored them, which was not exactly true for if it had not been for television few persons across the nation would have known that the array of moral champions existed at all. To garner attention one scheming servant of the sacred launched a "Coalition for Better Television," the real purpose of which was to impose upon the public the religious right's particular version of "moral code." Thus religious extremists embarked upon political waters in the name of religious devotion.

In 1961 an attention-grabbing faith-based, politically inspired group were parading under the banner of Moral Majority, which sponsored its first seminar on "Understanding Politics." The training session had nothing to do with making oneself spiritually worthy of god's blessing; rather the ideas being eagerly shared was on how to shove their particular version of religion into the workings of national government.

As is common among the faith-driven, other divinely inspired keepers of god's word were receiving slightly different instructions from heaven. Oddly, the governments of the world--especially the government of the US--seemed to trouble god much more than did the conduct of his strange array of messengers. And stranger still was the emphasis placed on the attainment of materiality for the sake of spiritual advancement! To advance this seemingly contrary means of attaining spiritual worthiness, various rightwing movements showered the faithful with an endless assortment of manuals and pamphlets. Titles of these always implied that only they held the keys of salvation. The advice, however, usually pivoted on take over of national management.

The movers and shakers of the religious right, although not exactly chummy with one another, sought to establish a modus operandi to achieve political power. Topping the list for achieving a power base was the necessity to recognize the givers and takers--meaning go after those who will donate cash. To impliment this they had to have a plan which would include: 1) have a candidate or [invent] issues; 2) be organized and keep it organized; 3) establish a means of keeping money flowing, which meant finding persons who would get personally involved in collecting money for the movement.

To effectively siphon money into the cause, the advice was: 1) project the income necessary for the operation and expansion; 2) define the levels of donations to be aimed for; 3) devise programs for attracting donations; 4) implement the plan. The advice on how to pursue collection of donations stressed the necessity of never emphasizing with a contributor: know all that you can find out about possible donors, but never emphasize with them. The reason for this was the fear that to emphasize with contact might allow the donation-seeker to decide whether a contact would or would not donate.

Always the mantra was think big, and that necessitated keeping the path open for people who might be inclined to give thousands of dollars. How should they pursue this? The most effective way and the least costly way to reach the most people and raise money was determined to be go direct response, which meant use the Postal Service. They then drew upon persons with writing talent to compose fund-raising letters, and the principle thing the authors had to remember was the basic psychological quirk that inspires people to let go of their money. That ignoble idiosyncrasy is that people tend always to be most willing to lend support against something than show willingness in support of something.

And that may be why religion and politics never seem to be capable of touching any semblance of genuine glory.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sowing Holy Hatred

Noted in an earlier posting here (Secularism and Intellect, Oct. 2008), "In many ways the practice of organized religions is the practice of abuse--a crafted mask of benevolence that covers a paralyzed spirit and the twisted face of emotional/spiritual insecurity."

This personal observation is extended here in acknowledgement of notification from a reader that a new television hate propaganda program has been initiated by the so-called American Family Association (AFA), formerly known as the National Federation for Decency which had been founded by "Rev." Donald Wildmon in 1977 but reinvented a AFA in 1988. By the long and obscene attack list that this "association" has chalked up, they clearly have no concept of the true meaning of decency--and certainly no understanding of the unrestricted diversity of life which proclaims the true Omniscience (all-knowingness) that serves as the Creative Force.

In the AFA's self-defined promotional blurbs it is declared they are "...a Christian organization [non-profit 501(c)(3)] promoting biblical ethic of decency in American society with primary emphasis on TV and other media." With an annual budget of roughly $14 million and ownership (at last count) of some 180 radio stations in 28 states, the business of stirring up hatred is thriving and profitable. And ethics for them also includes heavy fundamentalist lobbying against whatever happens to deny their particular interpretations of "God's" prejudices--such as pro-choice, pornography, same-sex partnering, premarital sex, etc. The AFA remains so bent out of shape by the private concerns of others that it clearlly indicates that they are tantalized with sex thoughts more than they are interested in cultivating compassion, as Jesus suggested. Regardless what tragedies truly wrack the world, AFA profits go on multiplying by smothering humane ethics and charging ahead with business as usual through their wide-flung material empire.

These AFA masters of hate-mongering have misled their naive followers for over three decades, using the lowest of tactics and outright lies. In 2005, for example, they were heavily promoting a homophobic work by a "psychologist" that was discredited by the professional psychologist organizations and the author so admired by the AFA, Paul Cameron, was thrown out of the profession. Homophobia in one the AFA's pet means of self-gratification, which brings us to the reader who alerted the "Monkeywrench guy" about the AFA's most recent self-indulgence scam. The new AFA venture is a one hour national special television program aimed at stirring up hatred for all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) persons. (Forget Jesus' rebuke about casting the first stone.)

The great irony in this expensive televised attack-exercise in radical propaganda rests in the assertion that there is "a radical homosexual agenda" being imposed upon America! The hateful program declaring this absurdity is "Speechless--Silencing the Christians." Satan must be double over in laughter. His buddies at AFA use the ancient scam tactic: accuse those who oppose you with the evil techniques that the scammers themselves routinely employ.

see earlier postings: Fear of Diversity; Sex, a Holy Mystery; God Forgot to Say