I don’t talk about religion very much on this blog anymore. I tend to save religious discussions for my Christian Heresy blog. I do however often discuss politics here. Since this post is about both religion and politics in the United States, I thought it was better suited for this blog.
Yesterday was the Fourth of July – our Independence Day. Last night I watched the movie version of the Broadway musical 1776 on Turner Classic Movies. The movie was actually better than I expected, mainly because it was less of a musical than I thought it would be. I found the dramatization of some of the debates in the Continental Congress rather interesting. I don’t know how historically accurate those dramatizations were. At one point in the movie, our Founding Fathers were recommending the various and sundry changes to the original wording of the Declaration of Independence. One of the delegates from the South asked for the inclusion of the phrase containing Divine Providence. He felt that the colonies would have no chance winning a war against Great Britain without divine help and that our declaration should acknowledge that. That’s certainly makes sense given the times and the culture of the colonies in 1776.
Continue reading For God and Country
The Doors of Perception is the title of a book about taking hallucinogenic drugs, especially LSD. It was written by Aldous Huxley almost 100 years ago, now. Jim Morrison, the late lead singer of The Doors read this book. It inspired the name he chose for his group. Timothy Leary read this book and became a prophet of LSD. I read the book back about 1966 or 1967. It took me until fall of 1968 to screw up the courage to try LSD. That first trip is an experience I will never forget, along with a few other memorable “trips.” “Trips” are what we called the experience of taking LSD.
The first trip was on a nice warm day in October, I think, as I was hanging around with some friends on the streets of Old Town in Chicago – the hippie district. The reason the trip was so memorable was that was when I called my father back in Furlong, Pennsylvania, to tell him that I was in Chicago and I was not coming back. A very interesting conversation, indeed.
About two years later, I was working at an auto parts store on the South Side of Chicago. I had recently moved in with the woman who became my second wife. We shared a large apartment on the North Side of Chicago, a couple blocks from an elevated train station. The reason that is important to this story is that I used public transportation, a bus and the elevated, to get back and forth to work. I had been there at the auto parts store for several months and had made friends with several of the guys who work there. One afternoon, when we were outside on a smoke break, one of the guys I knew handed me a little orange barrel shaped pill. I knew exactly what it was – a very, very good form of LSD called “orange sunshine.” It was recognized as one of the purest forms of acid available on the street. My friend said I should take this as I was leaving work and I would be tripping quite nicely by the time I got home an hour later.
Continue reading Through the Doors Of Perception
How do you define happiness? What makes you happy? Money? A big house? A big fancy car? Maybe a lucrative career? Or something else…
What makes me happy most of all is love. I need someone to love and I need to be loved. It seems I have been looking for love my whole life. Usually in the wrong places or with the wrong person. Before any of my ex-lovers get insulted, what I mean by wrong places is that there was nothing inherently wrong or evil with that person. It is just they were not what I needed and I was not what they needed. In situations like that, the best thing you can do is move on.
I have been married four times, divorced three times and have had several other non-binding relationships. Not that I consider marriage something nonbinding. Human relationships are not written in stone. God has nothing to do with our interpersonal relationships. We manage to screw those up all on our own. Lord knows, I’ve done it enough times in my life. Nothing to be proud of, but also nothing to beat myself up about either. Relationships come and relationships go. That is human nature or nurture, whichever you choose.
Continue reading Happiness is….
It’s hard to believe that it’s Halloween again already. I guess that’s one of the joys of getting older – time seems to fly when you’re having fun! Yes, getting older is fun! You get to sit around a lot and reflect on all kinds of crazy things. No pressure, no stress. I really enjoy being retired and being older. As the old saying goes, wisdom seems to come with age and I seem to have gained some wisdom finally.
Halloween is one of my most favorite holidays, not because of the celebration that we use on Halloween. Rather, it’s the contradiction between what Halloween really is and what it has become due to its “Christianization.” Halloween is the Christian rasterization of the ancient druidic holiday that celebrated the dead. As my son Michael just reminded me, it was also the celebration of the harvest. In traditional agrarian cultures, late fall was time to celebrate the end of the harvest and the preparations for winter. Days are getting shorter and shorter as we approach the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, the dying of the light.
Continue reading Happy Halloween!
I want to return to the discussion of the parable of the Good Samaritan today, but in a different context Medical professionals, especially doctors, are professional “good Samaritans,” or at least they should be and were so not that long ago. Back in the days when the Hippocratic oath meant something, back in the days before the “ambulance chasers,” cotors were committed, at least in principle, to caring for anyone in need of medical atention, irregardless of race, creed, religion, or economic status. Wen someone asked, “Is there a doctor in the house,” a doctor was sworn to answer that call.
Now, we all know that there were cases where discrimination did play a role in some places, but, for the most part, doctors were above race and gender politics. Not any more. Continue reading The Doctor As Good Samaritan – Fundamentalst Revisionism
American politics has, historically, had several ongoing major moral debates and perhaps the one that defines our moral dilemma best and most vividly exposes our hypocrisy is the death penalty. The recent Supreme Court decision, by a 5 to 4 vote, outlawing the execution of those who rape children, has brought the dilemma over the death penalty into the political spotlight again.
As a father, I find the rape of children, and the sexual abuse and exploitation of children, and that includes child pornography, extremely revolting. It is my considered opinion that these practices are symptomatic of a society with some very unhealthy attitudes about sex, nudity, and gender, but that is a topic for another post, not this one today. I do believe that child rapists deserve to be severely punished, but I agree with the Supreme Court that execution should not be an option for them or anyone else for that matter. As far as I am concerned, the death penalty violates the most basic principles of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religious tradition – the Ten Commandments, and specifically, the sixth commandment: Thou shalt not kill. Continue reading The Death Penalty: A Theological Dliemma For Christians
We’re going to shift gears a little today and talk about moral values, especially Christian moral values. I want to talk about a news item I found yesterday regarding a hit-run accident in Hartford, Connecticut which occurred on May 31 during the evening rush hour.
A 78-year-old man is tossed like a rag doll by a hit-and-run driver and lies motionless on a busy city street as car after car goes by. Pedestrians gawk but appear to do nothing. One driver stops briefly but then pulls back into traffic. A man on a scooter slowly circles the victim before zipping away.
The chilling scene – captured on video by a streetlight surveillance camera – has touched off a round of soul-searching in Hartford, with the capital city’s biggest newspaper blaring “SO INHUMANE” on the front page and the police chief lamenting: “We no longer have a moral compass.”
Video shows bystanders ignoring hit-and-run victim Continue reading Why There Are No ‘Good Sanaritans’ In Hartford
I am the father of a twelve-year-old autistic son who is nearly six feet tall and weighs 170 pounds, so I can most definitely relate to the anger that Carol Race feels about the way the Catholic Church of Saint Joseph is reacting to her autistic son’s behavior: Minn. mom fights church ban on her autistic son. I think she has lots of justification for her anger, and I think that parish leaders, and especially the Rev. Daniel Walz, need to take a good look at their beliefs and how they put those beliefs into practice. They need to ask themselves, what would Jesus do in this situation.
Isn’t there a story in the New Testament about a “madman,” someone who, according to the beliefs of that time, was possessed by demons? And didn’t Jesus’s disciples try to “protect” Jesus from this man when the man approached? And didn’t Jesus rebuke those disciples and, instead, embraced the man, and prayed, alsong God to cure the madman? And did God not removed the demons, sending them into a herd of swine instead? Mayve if Father Walz were more a better priest, he could cure Adam Race of his demons. Instead, Father Walz is more concerned about the social sensibilities of his parishioners and the niceities of ritual formalities. I think Jesus most definitely would condemn Father Walz and his flock as “a nest of vipers, Pharisees and hypocrites.”
Continue reading Ignorance Leads To Intolerance: Church Bans 13-Year-Old Autistic Boy
The last topic in our discussion of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright controvery is Reverend Wright’s comment placing the blame for the September 11 bombing of the Wolrd Trade Center on the United States. I would make the target of that blame a bit more specific: the onus falls on the United States governemt and its Middle East policy – note the use of the singular because the US policy in the Middle East has been, if nothing else, consistent and extremely narrow in focus – since the 1950s. That policy started with good intentions and an honorable focus – the right of the state of Israel to exist – but it has become more than that: it has become an unsweving, uncritical support of Israel without consideration for the rest of the people of the Middle East. In other words, it has gone from a pro-Israel to an anti-Arab focus,
The only time we make any concessions to the Arabs, and/or force Israel to make some accommodations, is when we need more oil. That is what happened in the late 70s and early 80s during the OPEC – remember them – oil embargo. We need oil again – just look at the prices at the gas pump – and so President Vush is now in the Middle East trying to convince, probably more like bully, our “friends” there, like Saudi Arabia, to increase the flow of oil to the United States. But, I suspect, if the past few years are any indication, Bush will not mave much luck. The Arabs are not nearly as stupid as some American politicans might like them to be.
Continue reading The Children of Abraham: A Political Sermon
The most hideous distortion applied to the kerygma – the message of Jesus Christ – has been the rationalization, in the Weberian sense, it has undergone as it spread in power and influence in Western culture. It is this rationalization of Christianity that fueled the doctrinal debates of the early Church and provided the fury of the Reformation. It is this rationalization that has caused the Christian antithesis to what is referred to as magic and the Protestant antithesis to ritual, especially its reforms of the meaning and significance of the Eucharist. Yet, Scripture, both the Old Testament and the New, is full of magic and ritual. [I will be developing this idea in greater depth in the Heresiology series this summer].
The so-called primitive cultures and religions, like the ones of the African slaves brought to America, are steeped in magic and ritual. Both Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christianity still retain much of the ritual, but Roman catholicism, at least, is violently opposed to anything that smacks of magic. Yet, what is transubstantiation, the Cargolic doctirne of the Real Presence in the Eucharist, if not magic? What is the Apostolic Succession if not the transference of magical power from one adept to another? Continue reading Race and Social Justice in America Part 4