Showing posts with label religion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label religion. Show all posts

Feb 2, 2013

The Super Bowl and god

Update: Super Bowl Winner Chosen by god (FDL, Dennis Trainor Jr ).

Millions of Americans willfully suffer under the illusion that religious faith brings health, wealth and- I kid you not- Super Bowl victories. A recent study by the Public Religion Research Institute found that one-third of the United States believes that God plays a role in determining which team wins the Super Bowl.

Also, a majority – more than one in two- believe that God rewards individual athletes who are faithful to God with success.
It's Super Bowl weekend, perhaps the most American of spectacles, outside of invading countries and killing people.

I'm taking Baltimore, with a lot of points scored by both teams. [Note: score was 34-31- Batlitmore]

Ray Lewis agrees, but for a different reason.

Lewis thinks God or Jesus or whatever supreme metaphysical forces concern themselves with the game are betting on Baltimore as well.

A great football player, Lewis is nuts and his metaphysics are about as sensible as Immanuel Kant's (1724–1804): Not very.

In honor of Sunday's game, below is a previously posted piece on author, Tom Krattenmaker, and his Onward Christian Athletes: Turning Ballparks into Pulpits and Players into Preachers.

Religion in sports, especially football is a problem.
Tom Krattenmaker's
Onward Christian Athletes:
Turning Ballparks into
Pulpits and Players into Preacher
Growing up in Wisconsin during the Bart Starr-coached years (1975-1983), I used to grimace as Bart announced that a new draft pick is a "good Christian."

'Chriiiiist Bart, who cares? Just get some players.'

But like everyone else I felt Bart is Bart, a winner from the glory years.

Over the last 15 years roughly as right wing Christians have taken aim at America's military, an authoritarian and evangelical strain of Christianity has taken aim at professional sports, in its own exclusionary and often wacky dogmatic way.

Muslim? They're spiritually dead. Jewish? Dead. Free-thinking agnostics? Dead. Oakland Raiders who played during the 1970s-80s? Beyond dead and not even Christ can save those guys.

Today, sportsfans notice say Notre Dame's receiver Golden Tate [looks like a future NFL Hall of Famer] often pointing to the sky and acclaiming that Christ is number one (though ND opponents Southern Cal and Pittsburgh don't respect this metaphysical ranking apparently) but the question arises why are players in sports evangelizing so much?

Tom Krattenmaker's new Onward Christian Athletes: Turning Ballparks into Pulpits and Players into Preachers (Rowman and Littlefield, October 2009) is a brilliant and much-needed investigative analysis for those viewing post-game, on-field prayer meetings as foolish displays of exclusionary, only-through-Christ silliness.

There's much more behind these displays and it's not divine intervention. The religious right is behind it and Christian athletes are eating it up [about 20 percent of them] as Krattenmaker demonstrates in his exhaustive exposé that should be sitting atop the Times nonfiction best seller list.

Writes Krattenmaker about the religious-political "Justice Sunday":
Seated around [former NFL player Herbert] Lusk at the altar of his packed Church, having already spoken or waiting to take their turn at the microphone, were some of the biggest names in Christan conservative politics—Rick Santorum, the junior U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania; Jerry Falwell, the founder of the Moral majority; James Dobson, the founder and leader of Focus on the Family; and Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council. The latter was the chief organizer of this, the third rendition of Justice Sunday, an event billed as a stand of resistance by people of faith agings the supposed tyranny of a liberal judiciary bent on leading America from its Christian heritage. ... On that given Sunday in north Philadelphia in 2006, pro sports, Evangelical religion, and conservative politics came together in a particularly stark framing of a powerful current in American public life.
The religious right is organized and often with professional teams' administrative support are pounding away to create a Christian America only for the saved, and the Republican Party.

Krattenmaker is sympathetic to the religious right in a sense and is not mean-spirited in his tone. But there is no doubt after reading his analysis that Krattenmaker prefers a pluralistic and tolerant America where people are free to choose their way to happiness and fulfillment.

This is a book that many Americans, and many sportsfans, have been waiting for and Krattenmaker has performed a public service in his rigorous and often funny investigation of something everyone sees in sports and then lets go by like a Miller Lite commercial.

It's about holiday season, so grab a few copies of Onward Christian Athletes: Turning Ballparks into Pulpits and Players into Preachers. You will not be disappointed. Thank you Tom Krattenmaker!

Sep 14, 2011

USAF Chief Affirms No Religious Test Policy for Military

 Clause 3, Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution

In the wake of an exclusive report in Truthout [Leopold] last July revealing that for two decades the Air Force used Bible passages, religious imagery and NAZI citations to instruct nuclear missile officers on the morality of launching nuclear weapons, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz issued a policy memorandum sent Tuesday to all major commands that affirms the No Establishment Clause, the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, as well as Clause 3, Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution specifically prohibiting a religious test for public office and trust.

The policy is a victory against the efforts of a pervasive force in the military, political-religious dominionism, a Chistitian nationalist movement seeking to institute its version of authoritarian Christianity, that endorses theocratic visions of "biblical law," codified in major spheres of American society, most troubling in the U.S. military."

Mikey Weinstein, the President and Founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation that works to ensure religious freedom for all U.S. service members broke the story with writer, Jason Leopold, with a religiously-oriented PowerPoint training presentation and Air Force documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Weinstein, perhaps dominionism's most visible enemy for his dedication to civil rights and pluralism, is known as the "constitutional conscience of the U.S. military," and is recognized as the MRFF site notes as "the undisputed leader of the national movement to restore the obliterated wall separating church and state in the most technologically lethal organization ever created by humankind: the United States armed forces," a designation that brings his family, friends and Weinstein routine death threats, or mundanely prayers that he be killed or consigned to hell.

Weinstein reacted to Gen. Schwartz' memorandum, "Maintaining Government Neutrality Regarding Religion" with the following statement:
General Schwartz deserves significant kudos and comprehensive congratulations for being THE most senior Pentagon official to date to ever send this strong a mandate of Constitutional religious compliance to our United States armed forces members. While MRFF wishes that such a letter had been sent by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force a very long time ago, the old adage 'better late than never' most certainly applies. While this letter may not be a home run, it is a damn good line drive single to potentially start a rally of Constitutional religious freedom compliance, which has been scandalously lacking in the entire Defense Department for decades. Gen. Schwartz has the U.S. Air Force at least now 'talking the talk.' Whether the USAF can 'walk the walk' will depend upon many factors, not the least of which is whether ANYONE in the Air Force is EVER punished for violating its clear mandates of Constitutional recognition for BOTH the No Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the Bill of Rights' First Amendment. To that end, we must all remember that while the First Commandment says, 'You can't have any other Gods before Me,' the First Amendment says, 'Oh yes you can!'
Below is the text of Gen. Schwartz' memorandum.


1670 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, DC 20330-1670

SUBJECT: Maintaining Government Neutrality Regarding Religion

Leaders at all levels must balance Constitutional protections for an individual’s free exercise of religion or other personal beliefs and its prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. For example, they must avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion. Commanders or supervisors who engage in such behavior may cause members to doubt their impartiality and objectivity. The potential result is a degradation of the unit’s morale, good order, and discipline.

Chaplain Corps programs, including activities such as religious studies, faith sharing, and prayer meetings, are vital to commanders’ support of individual Airmen’s needs and provide opportunities for the free exercise of religion. Although commanders are responsible for these programs they must refrain from appearing to officially endorse religion generally or any particular religion. Therefore, I expect chaplains, not commanders, to notify Airmen of Chaplain Corps programs.

Our chaplains are trained to provide advice to leadership on matters related to the free exercise of religion and to help commanders care for all of their people, regardless of their beliefs. If you have concerns involving the preservation of government neutrality regarding religious beliefs, consult with your chaplain and staff judge advocate before you act.

General, USAF
Chief of Staff

May 18, 2011

Hey Fundies, The World Is Not Undergoing Rapture May 21

Update: Gays brought this on.

Pam Spaulding has been having some fun with the end-of-the-world-is-coming [Saturday] crowd.

Here's an update from Pam; though left unmentioned is whether that weird storm extending West from the Atlantic Ocean is the beginning of that horror-of-horrors process.

Note the Rapture Index is at near-record high of 182, indicating imminent End Times. But like many religious people, these guys who do the Rapture Index possess what Bertrand Russell used to term their "corners of madness" of significant girth.

So, let us join Pam, Lauri Lebo and many others in saying: Dear Lord, we mock thee.

From Lauri Lebo at Religion Dispatches:
I've been fielding a lot of questions from friends about the upcoming Rapture, which Christian doomsday prognosticator Harold Camping and his sad motley group of followers say will take place May 21. This is the day that true believers will be taken up to heaven, while everybody else -- Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics and anyone who supports gay marriage or accepts evolution -- will be stuck here on Earth for another six months while war and pestilence rains down on us. Then, on Oct. 21, the world will end.

... Well, because God created time zones -- just as he apparently created US international borders -- the Rapture will begin at 6 p.m. in each time zone. Also, you'll know when the Rapture will begin because it will be preceded by an earthquake.

... ‘starting in the Pacific Rim at around the 6 p.m. local time hour, in each time zone, there will be a great earthquake, such as has never been in the history of the Earth,’ he says. The true Christian believers -- he hopes he's one of them -- will be ‘raptured’: They'll fly upward to heaven. And for the rest?

‘It's just the horror of horror stories,’ he says, ‘and on top of all that, there's no more salvation at that point. And then the Bible says it will be 153 days later that the entire universe and planet Earth will be destroyed forever.’

Dec 2, 2008

Ancient Earth Climate Was Calm, Opening Early Door to Life

Today's Science Times has a piece by Kenneth Chang summing up advancements by geologists suggesting that the earth some four billion years ago was a relatively calm place, and not hellishly hot as previously thought.

"Geologists now almost universally agree that by 4.2 billion years ago, the Earth was a pretty placid place, with both land and oceans," writes Chang of the ancient Hadean period [bottom of chart at right].

Advancements in geophysics and geochemistry paint a new picture of early Earth using "mineralogical analysis of small hardy crystals known as zircons embedded in old Australian rocks" through which scientists were able to determine the presence of water, consistent with conditions in which "life could have emerged hundreds of millions of years earlier" than previously thought possible, in conjunction with the geologic processes of plate tectonics, writes Chang.

Cited in Chang's piece is work by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's John W. Valley. Chang writes:

"In 2001, two groups, one led by Dr. Harrison and the other by John W. Valley of the University of Wisconsin, reported that the Australian zircons formed during the Hadean period as long ago as 4.4 billion years and were later embedded in the younger, 3-billion-year-old rocks."

Fascinating stuff and reassuring as always to read of science at work, toppling old views as new evidence and analyses come to the fore.

"'We thought we knew something we didn’t,' said T. Mark Harrison, a professor of geochemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles. In hindsight the evidence was just not there. And new evidence has suggested a new view of the early Earth," writes Chang.

One wonders what goes through the minds in the people forming the political base of today's Republican Party which denies evolution and an Earth older than 6,000 years old. At least nobody is being arrested for heresy.

Mar 24, 2008

Stem Cell Breakthrough in Parkinson's Cure

From the London Independent comes word of a breakthrough in treating Parkinson's disease. The Catholic Church, predictably, does not like such fare.

Reports Steve Connor:

A potential cure for Parkinson's disease has come a significant step closer today with a study showing that it is possible to treat the degenerative brain disorder with cells derived from cloned embryos – a development condemned by the Roman Catholic Church.

Dec 19, 2007

Religious Right Still Potent in GOP Circles, Buffoonish Elsewhere

With the rise of Mike Huckabee to the top of polls in the race for the Republican nomination for president, the pile of candidates rejected by the religious right is a roster of formerly regarded GOP front-runners or political saviors: Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson.

[John McCain's recently acquired Joe-mentum is a joke, and McCain, of the top four Republican candidates, remains the least acceptable to the religious right, as he deviates slightly from being mean-spirited and dogmatic.]

So, will Huckabee sustain his frontrunner status, propped up by the religious right?

Let's hope so, because the religious right has worn out its welcome among the center of American politics.

As Harold Meyerson writes today in the Post:

As Christians across the world prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, it's a fitting moment to contemplate the mountain of moral, and mortal, hypocrisy that is our Christianized Republican Party. ...

The most depressing thing about the Republican presidential race is that the party's rank and file require their candidates to grow meaner with each passing week. And now, inconveniently, inconsiderately, comes Christmas, a holiday that couldn't be better calibrated to expose the Republicans' rank, fetid hypocrisy.

As fans of the popular television series House and Bones attest, heroically free-thinking, compassionate and secular American archetypes remain admired figures in the American consciousness.

I mean who wants to see a Gastroenterology specialist who isn't brilliant and rational-minded? And a brilliant and rational president has its advantages too, even imperatives, as the ruin of Bush/Cheney becomes clear and irrefutable.

Craig Unger puts the conflict between reason and religion this way:

(As discussed in the new book, The Fall of the House of Bush), most secularists, who refer to the culture wars or the red state-blue state conflict, still don't understand that what is really going on is an age old battle between faith and reason. After all, America is not only the country that put a man on the moon, that unraveled the human genome, that invented the iPod. It's also a country with tens of millions of people who don't believe in evolution, who think the earth was created 6,000 years ago and who think that the Final Conflict may bring the world to an end any day now.

The religious right remains powerful on Planet GOP, but is faltering badly in the greater reality-based American consciousness.


Nov 26, 2007

Coexist Icon and Charlie Sykes

Xoff at UppityWisconsin notes a flap over dueling Coexist icons, one of which provokes many and is deemed inflammatory (it is). The piece is worth linking to as it links to a couple of interesting perspectives (I posted the lead-in below).

Republican radio's Charles Sykes has stepped in it big time, calling the hateful work (above-right) 'pure genius.'

Milwaukee's ecumenical Interfaith Council begs to differ. Jim Rowen summarizes thoughtfully on the national Daily Kos blog, and Mike Plaistad weighs in with, "Sykes bravely fights coexistence."

Here's my take at MAL Contends: I find the god concept intellectually lazy; a coping out of grappling with the great and mysterious questions on the nature of human knowledge and the universe.

And I never have been anything but critical of organized religion, a tradition of anti-thought usually based on fear, dogma and bigotry.

But since near the inception of this blog, I have displayed the Coexist icon (above-left) as it connotes a respect for anyone to explore in any manner he or she deems fitting, and a commitment to peace.

As for the inflammatory icon and Sykes' description of it as "pure genius;" silly, but so be it. DRAWING THE LINE by Charlie Sykes


Aug 17, 2007

The Rapture Index

On the lower-left corner of this page, readers can find a link to the Rapture Index.

The Rapture Index proclaims to arrive at a predictive measure of the imminence of rapture—the instant when true Christians will be taken up by Jesus Christ into heaven and assorted non-believers like Catholics, secular humanists, Jews, Muslims, agnostics and so forth will be left behind to face the tribulations.

Or, even more precisely, a measure of prophetic activity that occasions the Rapture.

As the Rapture Index site states:

You could say the Rapture index is a Dow Jones Industrial Average of end time activity, but I think it would be better if you viewed it as prophetic speedometer. The higher the number, the faster we're moving towards the occurrence of pre-tribulation rapture.

What’s pathetic about all of this is that the millions of fundamentalist Christian millenialists who believe this nonsense comprise a central constituency of the Republican Party under Bush/Rove/Cheney.

But they are the perfect Republican constituency—unthinking, irrational, hostile-to-evidence-and-argument, bigoted, and utterly incapable of altering their dogma through reason.

Current Rapture Index – 159

Rapture Index of 100 and Below: Slow prophetic activity
Rapture Index of 100 to 130: Moderate prophetic activity
Rapture Index of 130 to 160: Heavy prophetic activity
Rapture Index above 160: Fasten your seat belts

Right now, we are at 159, we're right there before Rapture occurs, again.

But as the Rapture fails to occur again and again, as it surly will, we can be sure that the whackos will not change their worldview, and that they will remain Rapture-ready, looking to their Holy Man, George W. Bush, a nut in his own right, but one who occupies the White House as he delivers his own brand of tribulations to the world.

So, what do right-wing pundits think about this nonsense coming from today's Republican coalition? One can't even get most of these guys to acclaim evolution (that most evil of scientific facts) and to denounce the vacuity of "intelligent design," so we should we not expect them to acknowledge the whackos who give them votes.

Jul 17, 2007

The One True Church

Now it’s clear.

Less than one week after the Roman Catholic Church issued its degree that the Catholic Church is the “one true Church of Christ", the one, true Church agreed to a $660 million settlement in the clergy molestation/rape case in Los Angeles, the largest settlement yet for Catholic Church rape/molestation cases.

The one-true-church declaration was issued to clear up the "confusion and doubt" piling up on the church's relationships among other faiths, with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI.

If all those child molestations that the church covered up seem inconsistent with its self-declared “one, true church” pronouncement; just know that none other than the supreme authority on pacifism and tolerance, our own President Bush, said of Pope Benedict XVI: “He's a man of great wisdom and knowledge.”

The Pope earlier this month had also approved the Vatican's inclusion of a prayer for the conversion of Jews in its Latin Mass, which drew the ire of the ADL.

"We are extremely disappointed and deeply offended that nearly 40 years after the Vatican rightly removed insulting anti-Jewish language from the Good Friday liturgy, that it would now permit Catholics to utter such hurtful and insulting words by praying for Jews to be converted ... ," Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said in a statement.

Excuse me, but Pope Benedict XVI: You stink.


From The Forward:

Pope’s Statements Raise Concerns About Interfaith Relations

Marc Perelman | Wed. Jul 18, 2007
Two separate documents issued by the Vatican last week are raising concern among liberal Catholics, Protestants and Jews that Pope Benedict XVI is turning back the clock on four decades of ecumenism.

On July 10, the Holy See reiterated a controversial statement from 2000 that the Protestant and Christian Orthodox denominations are not “true” Christianity. Four days earlier, the pope authorized the wider use of a Latin mass that may allow for the inclusion of a previously disavowed prayer calling for the conversion of Jews.

The pair of pronouncements has caused substantial consternation among the more liberal streams of Catholicism, who see the German pope steering the church in a more traditional direction. While some Jewish communal officials have urged Jews to stay out of what they perceive to be primarily an intra-Catholic debate, others are continuing to sound a warning about the statements’ effect on interfaith relations.