Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday Night Culture: Guy Clark

Last year on May 17, Guy Clark passed away.  A song writer and a poet, a true Texas Troubadour.















Thursday, May 18, 2017

Liberal Redneck - What's It Gonna Take Yall


In our uncertain times, religion must lead by example

In spite of having been raised Catholic I have always had a very hard time relating to Christianity.  But as a hippie I've read the works of various philosophers and theologians as well as both the Bible and various works of mythology.

Seems like most religions that have made it to the modern age have an element of behavior towards others at their core.  I haven't come across one that really teaches lie to everyone and abuse your fellow humans.  Thou shall not steal or commit murder seem pretty basic and universal.  The sort of thing one shouldn't need to have a God  tell them: "Don't do this."

I always thought that how one behaves and especially how one treats others was an important part of morality.

Imagine my surprise over the last 20-30 years or so and the rise of the New Evangelical Christians for whom proclaiming their faith (what ever the fuck that means) is all important and as long as you do that it doesn't matter if you are a lying thief who abuses and even murders people.  Because you proclaim your love of Jesus all is supposed to be forgiven.

Lately I've been reading about the history of Judaism.  We owe much of what we think of as ethic, humanism and even Christianity to the often murdered and abused Jews.

It may come as a shock to many but Jesus was a Jew.  Much of his message came from Judaism and the teachings of Rabbis such as Hillel.

Maybe if people are going to call themselves Christians it would highly behoove them to try to actually act more like someone who follows the teachings of Jesus instead of running around proclaiming, while shrouded in ignorance and pompously abusing your fellow human beings.
Maybe if Christians acted more like Christians instead of pretentious bullies people would respect them and their commitment to their religion more.

Reading Thomas Cleary and Thomas Merton might be a good start.

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/may/08/in-our-uncertain-times-religion-must-lead-by-example

Bishops have been criticised for advocating a leftwing perspective. But surely Christianity – and other religions – should promote fairness and equality by default

Monday 8 May 2017

I was listening to a radio chat about the bishops’ election message the other day, encouraging us to vote, when I heard something rather startling. Apparently, in 2015, when the bishops last wrote a letter, there seemed to be a danger of them advocating a leftwing perspective. No chance of that this time, although they did daringly mention concern for “the weak, poor and marginalised”. But whatever is wrong with a leftwing perspective? Jesus had one. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on Earth,” said he (Matthew 6:19), and the people of Sodom got into frightful trouble primarily because of their selfish economic behaviour.

I don’t want to sound naive, or corny, but I’ve often wondered how Trump and many members of our current government can call themselves Christians, while trampling on the weak, poor and marginalised, depriving them of healthcare, homes, food, decent jobs and such like, while goggling at the ghastly rich list, out again yesterday, and rewarding those tremendous show-offs included upon it.
Come on bishops, be bold. Promote some real Christian principles, because Anglicans are, according to YouGov, almost twice as likely to vote Conservative as Labour, which suggests that they haven’t quite got the hang of their own religion. And hurry up about it, because the world’s morals seem to be going down the plughole, and we’re beginning to worship the rich again, which no religion approves of. “He is not a believer, who eats his fill while his neighbour remains hungry at his side”, says the hadith, while Proverbs 14:31 states: “He that oppresses the poor blasphemes his maker.” 

I don’t want to sound like Dot Cotton, because this is meant to be a secular country, and the church is not solely responsible for, or the only wellspring of, moral values. We atheists also should, and do, have moral values, I promise you. And like anyone else, we succumb to evil, which I did yesterday, by feeling a tiny but immoral spark of joy when I heard that cybercrime is becoming a threat to superyachts and their increasingly boastful owners. “Ha ha,” I thought, viciously. “Serves them right.” And I can’t even pray for forgiveness.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Has Evangelical Christianity Become Sociopathic?

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/has-evangelical-christianity-become-sociopathic_us_5914ce6fe4b02d6199b2ed92
 
Tim Rymel, M.Ed., Contributor
05/11/2017


Since Evangelical Christianity began infiltrating politics, officially in the late 1970s, there has been a disturbing trend to limit or remove rights from those who don’t meet the conservative idea of an American. Many of these initiatives come in the form of “religious freedom” laws, which empower discrimination, while other legislation targets immigrants who believe differently. The result has been a sharp division in American culture, and the redefinition of Christian theology.

Evangelical speaker, author, and university professor, Tony Campolo, said Christianity was redefined in the mid-70s by positions of “pro-life” and opposing gay marriage. “Suddenly theology fell to the background,” he said. And somewhere in the middle of all the change, Evangelical Christianity crossed the line of faith and belief to hatred and abuse. Those who cruelly implement the actions of their faith are oblivious to the destruction they cause to their religion, or the people their beliefs impact. Is it fair to call it sociopathic?

Psychology Today listed sixteen characteristics of sociopathic behaviors, which include: Untruthfulness and insincerity, superficial charm and good intelligence, lack of remorse or shame, poor judgment and failure to learn by experience, pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love, unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations, specific loss of insight, and general poverty in major affective reactions (in other words, appropriate emotional responses).

We see examples of these kinds of behaviors in church leaders and followers. Franklin Graham, for example, stated that immigration was “not a Bible issue.” His stand fits well with his conservative politics and vocal support of Donald Trump, but his callousness toward immigrants and those seeking asylum in the United States goes against everything he says he believes (Lev. 19:33-34, Mark 12:30-31). Yet, Graham doesn’t see one bit of irony between his political stance and his religious belief. Nor does he seem to notice the horrific casualties in war-torn countries these immigrants are desperately trying to flee.

Pastor Roger Jimenez of Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento said after the Orlando, Florida terrorist attack on a gay nightclub, “The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. The tragedy is — I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job!” This “minister of God” showed no compassion for the families of the men and women who died. He appeared incapable of laying aside his religious beliefs for even a moment of shared human connection to a tragic event.

And recently, Kim Higginbotham, a minister’s wife and teacher with a master’s degree in special education, according to her website, wrote a public blog called “Giving Your Child to the Devil.” She claimed, “Being a disciple of Jesus demands our relationship to him be greater than our relationship to our own family, even our own children.” She listed Matthew 10:37 as justification, which says, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
In a self-righteous, self-aggrandizing, martyr’s rant, she claims her son turned his back on God, and she was left with no other option but to abandon him. It turns out her son is gay and - it turns out - the day the diatribe was posted was his wedding day. Sharon Hambrick, a Christian writer, posted a wonderful response to this mom.
But mostly, rather than calling these people out for sociopathic behavior fellow Christians agree. Many of the comments on Higginbotham’s website say, “So sorry for your loss,” or, “Praying for you and your son.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/has-evangelical-christianity-become-sociopathic_us_5914ce6fe4b02d6199b2ed92

What’s Happening in Donald Trump’s Head? | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The End of Trump

From Robert Reich:  http://robertreich.org/post/160651192690
 
Robert Reich
May 14, 2017

 
The question is no longer whether there are grounds to impeach Donald Trump. It is when enough Republicans will put their loyalty to America ahead of their loyalty to their party.

Trump’s statements last week about his firing of former FBI director James Comey provide ample evidence that Trump engaged in an obstruction of justice – a major charge in impeachment proceedings brought against Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton.

It’s worth recalling that the illegality underlying Nixon’s impeachment was a burglary at the Watergate complex, while the illegality underlying Clinton’s was lying to a grand jury about sex with an intern in the White House.

Trump’s obstruction is potentially far more serious. It involves an investigation about whether Trump or his aides colluded with Russia in rigging a presidential election – the most direct assault on American democracy in history,

Last Thursday, in an interview with NBC News’s Lester Holt about his firing of Comey, Trump said: “I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.” Trump also said that he had pressed Comey during a private dinner to tell him if he was under investigation.

Trump conceded that the ongoing investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 election, which includes a probe into the possibility that Moscow was coordinating with the Trump campaign, was one of the factors Trump considered before firing Comey.

“In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won,’ ” Trump said.

The law is reasonably clear. If Trump removed Comey to avoid being investigated, that’s an obstruction of justice – an impeachable offense.

Continue reading at:  http://robertreich.org/post/160651192690