The meta-movie Kingsman turns out to be an exorcism of everything Hollywood and beyond

590868There are all sorts of memes going on in the film Kingsman, which focuses on a super-secret society of James Bond-like guardians of all things good. Or mostly good. Because the Kingsman, while modeled on the Knights of the Round Table and King Arthur, are a pretty confused group of people. At least they are in the sense that they seem to make a lot of mistakes and kill a lot of people on the way to whatever sort of justice they are pursuing.

Which makes Kingsman a wonderful representation of the real world, but in a fantastical sort of way. You might ask why this is important at all? Isn’t Kingsman just a throwaway action movie? One to watch and forget?

Meta-movies

It’s a fun enough film to see. It’s rather like jamming the Tim Burton movie Mars Attacks together with the latest James Bond films with Daniel Craig in the mix. There’s an entirely not-too-serious tone to Kingsman that gets its ultimate expression when heads start exploding like fireworks because the technology installed by the villain in the necks of hundreds of wealthy acolytes gets reversed by some laptop trickery by the so-called good guys.

But that’s not the only violently meta-weirdness about Kingsman. There’s also a scene in which the Colin Furth character goes crazy in a Southern Pentecostal church. The preacher is spewing hate when the arch villain sets off the cell phones of all the parishioners turning them into maddened psychopaths. Now, the underlying message in this scene is that their ugly beliefs are already evidencing themselves in what the preacher is saying. But when technology sets off their manic brains they all go crazy attacking each other with crosses, axes and bare fists. A few guns go off as well, suggesting the idea that concealed carry may not be such a good idea after all.

The Kingsman handily dispatches all 100 people in the church. He kills them all. One is not sure if this is the result of his own skills at survival or the conclusion of a very bad sermon. At any rate, when he walks out the door he is confronted by the evil villain himself played by a lisping Samuel L. Jackson who shoots the Colin Furth character straight in the head after a short little monologue mocking the James Bond/Austin Powers tradition in which the villains usually set up some sort of torturous way for the good guy to die. “This isn’t that kind of movie,” the villain says.

Meta-villains

kingsman-the-secret-service-official-trailer-000In fact the villain stands for everything wrong with the world. He’s a megalomaniac that wants to kill off much of the human race to protect the earth. So there’s a liberal bent to his character. Yet he’s a merciless billionaire willing to use technology to dispatch anyone that stands in his way. So there’s a conservative will to his methodology.

The fact that he lisps is supposed to represent the fact that he has overcome his most obvious character flaw. Jackson recently played another genius character in the movie Captain America in which his legs were so fragile he was susceptible to easy breakage. Apparently these physical “defects” are an attempt to commiserate with all those who live with disabilities. Consider that Jackson’s sexy accomplice is a female ninja with razor sharp blades for feet. What does she represent? That sexy women are deadly.

Meta-Christianity

kingsman-05-gallery-imageI’m here to propose that Kingsman is a perfect symbol for the mess that modern religion has become. More specifically, it characterizes the brand of meta-Christianity that has turned its back on anything resembling common sense with the goal of appealing to everyone as some sort of grand inside joke. There is a very real and politicized faith that has emerged in collusion news media such as Fox News along with Right-leaning politicians who want the authority of religion without any of its cumbersome calls to care for the poor or to watch that the love of money does not lead to the root of all evil.

The worst of liberal society is mixed in with this new movement because the issues that a hyper-material and hate-loving conservative religion loves to resist include science and academia. These are called lies or something worse; a deception of the spirit perpetrated by the liberal left.

Meta-fantasies

kingsman-the-secret-service-colin-firth1The fact that the villain is killing people right and left using technology while the Kingsman go around shooting sophisticated, military-grade guns is an expression of the meta-fantasy that only violence can solve problems. That is the lurking suspicion under the modern day conservative alliance which uses the very liberal Constitution of the United States to achieve very conservative aims of guaranteeing the right to kill in the event that the government or some other force should overwhelm regular society.

That’s how crazy the logic is behind the brand of meta-Christianity now threatening real democracy in America. Insanity is now the rule of the day. What meta-Christianity seeks is an exorcism of all it fears. How ironic that Hollywood, its apparent worst enemy with all its liberality, should so perfectly capture the twisted nature of what meta-conservative faith and politics has become.

Meta-denial

Where are the women?Of course you can’t point these things out to a meta-Christian. Their own view of conspiracies is rampantly obsessed with liberals as the bad guy. They would quite literally choose the Kingsman as protectors of all things good in this world. That’s the collective narrative of the movie, that we need men of secret will and massive force to protect the good cause of civil order. The fantasy sold through the Kingsman is that you and I are actually those men and women of secret will and massive force. We must choose leaders that represent those ideals.

That’s why the character Iggsy comes from such humble roots. That’s why why he initially resists the stuffy manner of those who seek to turn him into a solo superpower, but ultimately “sees the light” that men who communicate great authority are the only ones that can “save the world.” From there it’s a question of identifying the enemy and pointing fingers through subliminal messaging and dog-whistle communication. It is no coincidence that the villain in the movie Kingsman is a black genius who accuses his adversaries of “talking funny.” To meta-Christians of a conservative bent, the Samuel L. Jackson character is President Obama.

Meta-wealth

So the real message is loyalty against such adversaries. Iggsy ultimately submits to this ideal by wearing a perfectly-tailored suit representative of his newfound fealty to a powerful tradition of kingly behavior. In other words, democracy be damned. The New World Order harkens back to a time when kings ruled the world and oligarchy was the only way to maintain or restore order. How perfect a message for the new American oligarchy of laissez-faire capitalism and hatred for all things intellectual that might question this new kingly authority. It’s no coincidence that this movement accuses Obama of acting like a king. They’re afraid he’s stolen their mission.

Meta-maniacs

141208_fallon_cheneylies_apIt’s a sickly subversive message when it comes to America. But that’s where meta-Christianity and meta-conservatism wants to take the nation with its call for breaching the Constitution and installing Christianity as a state religion. And for killing off unions so that bargaining rights with the super-wealthy are illegal.

The Kingsman are none other than the Kochs and those zealous politicians willing to buy out the political process and install those sworn to fealty of the masters.

Of course the real master known as Arthur in the movie Kingsman turns out to be just as corruptible as anyone else. He dies as a result, done in by a sleight of hand by the common man Iggsy, That’s the lone message of real good in the entire mess of force and counterforce in the movie Kingsman. In the end real victory often comes down to a simple deception. Fair and balanced, as it were. That’s the end game of meta-Christianity. It’s all about who can win the game of trickery.

Republican Presidential candidate Scott Walker would love to punt us all

IN a recent interview in London, Scott Walker illustrates how and why Republican conservatives refuse to accept science as a foundation for dialogue about politics

Scott WalkerOne of the leading Republican candidates for the presidential nomination in 2016 is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. A well-known advocate of conservative principles such as busting unions and defunding public education, Walker is exploring his Republican darling status by setting up a campaign office in the state of Iowa, where all presidential aspirations begin.

In the meantime, Walker is still playing Governor for the State of Wisconsin. In that role he drifted overseas to London, England to talk trade. During an introductory interview with his London contacts and the press, Walker was asked a simple question by his English hosts. “Are you comfortable with the idea of evolution? Do you believe in it? Do you accept it?”

Walker’s reply was textbook Republican political deflection. “For me, I’m gonna punt on that one,” he said. “That’s a question a politician should not be involved in one way or another.”

Shallow depths

Really? That’s all the deeper the thinking goes with Scott Walker? That when asked about his understanding of the primary descriptive theory used by science to define the origins of life, he chooses to “punt?”

It’s no wonder the audience laughed at Scott Walker’s reply. They were not laughing with him. They were laughing at him.

Scott Walker evidences a very shallow grasp of the impact of worldview on one’s politics and by proxy, on the politics of the world. By denying evolution one essentially denies one of the principle foundations of modern science, the realm of human thought that drives all technology, medicine, agriculture and environmental science.

Not fit for office

A politician that does not grasp or accept the concepts that drive our understanding of the world is clearly not qualified to serve in public office. It’s time that this qualifier be brought to the very front of the political equation.

This is especially true here in America, where one in four people claim not to accept the theory of evolution. Most base these beliefs on religious grounds and a literalistic interpretation of the Bible that says evolution could not have occurred because everything on earth was created instantaneously and fully developed by God.

Never mind the clear evidence in the morphological processes that take a human zygote from cellular to human form in a mere nine months. There can’t be any trace of our genetic and development history in that short process, can there?

Cognitive dissonance on science

When someone raises the question as to whether evolution is true or not, it comes packed with an even more important question. How can you accept the benefits of science without believing in it? Isn’t that the very same thought process as taking the very grace of God for granted?

And yes, we did just equate science to God in that sentence. Because God has no problem with science. Neither did his son Jesus, who taught important spiritual lessons using highly naturalistic yet metaphorical symbols from earthly life to teach about the kingdom of God. All throughout the Bible these wonderful examples of organic fundamentalism exist. We find expressions of God in all of nature, but that does not make nature into God.

The Bible tells me so

The Bible is fully reconcilable to science if a rigid template of literalism is not clamped over its interpretation. Jesus was a naturalist in its most broad definition. He saw the earth as a wellspring of meaning, something about which we should be both curious and proud.

Despite these incredible truths we find that the ardent anti-scientific crowd is not content with metaphorical truths. So they construct their own brand of hardened truths around constructs such as creationism, which is not a science at all, other than a science of denial. There is also so-called “intelligent design” which claims that the world is simply too complex to have evolved on its own.

That is the lobby to whom Scott Walker beckons and bows when he says he has to “punt” on the question of belief in evolution. We have 25% or more of the American population proud as hell that they’re ignorant of their own biblical tradition and its metaphorical foundations. They are aggressively content to ignore the example of their own spiritual naturalist Jesus Christ in favor of putting more import in the methodologies of the Pharisees, whose passion for putting law over love was repugnant to Jesus. He called them a “brood of vipers” (another organic image!) to their faces. They didn’t get it.

Pandering for power

Paired with an equally pandering political herd of political and economic conservatives, there exists an entire alliance of doctrinal freaks who like to deny that evolution even exists. As a result, America is stuck in a cycle of patent denial of such realities climate change, a theory of anthropocentric pollution that is causing the earth’s atmosphere to warm.  97% of of the worlds credible scientists worldwide agree that climate change and global warming is a human-driven problem.

But not conservatives like Scott Walker. We can ascertain from his answer about evolution what Scott Walker would say about climate change as well. “The science is not decided.” The reasons why he would give that answer have to do with who funds his political aspirations. The Koch brothers are highly invested in carbon-based industries that have made them both billionaires. Scott Walker is suckling at their trough along with a host of other politicians paid to do the bidding of the oil, gas and coal industries causing global climate change. It’s that simple. And that corrupt as a worldview.

But back to the main topic. We have some news for you Scotty. Things like evolutionary science are never “decided.” On anything. Science researches and tests and revises its understandings about the physical and biological world based on experimentation, analysis, discoveries and documentation. Then scientific peers try their best to tear it all down. If it survives––as has the theory of evolution in most of its forms–– then it becomes the canon by which we describe how things work.

Conservatives politicians love to claim this dynamic as a defiant reason for resisting science as a worldview. Yet conservatism has an absolutely horrid track record of being right about anything to do with the physical and material realities of this world.

Pope Francis shoots down the conservative worldview

Can we consider the position of the Catholic Church on the position of the earth at the center of the universe? And can we consider that same August body insisting for quite a long time that the earth was flat? The Catholic Church resisted the theory of evolution when it was first introduced as well. Yet even the Catholic Church acknowledges that evolution is true.

How interesting that even the new Catholic Pope Francis is now experiencing blowback from conservative American interests for calling very biblical principles to the fore of the church’s ministries. He calls for helping the poor. Holding the rich accountable for their conduct in business. Pope Francis is opening the arms of the church to gays and all who experience discrimination in the world. He lambasts the idea that the Bible should be interpreted literally at all. His main contention? That which does not lead believers to the love of Christ is obsolete.

The Pope’s entire ministry does not sit well with American conservatives who prefer their pet discrimination projects against gays and the poor. Now that the Pope is calling people to account for their backwards beliefs he has run afoul of the very supporters of men like Governor Scott Walker who frankly would rather “punt” on real solutions to social problems in favor of casting blame on all those they deem lazy, inferior or flawed. Frankly that’s a fascist worldview. It is neither Christlike or scientific in foundation. Instead it is selfish, plain and simple.

Patent ideology

And that’s why Scott Walker is unfit to hold public office. His worldview evidences a cognitive dissonance that embraces the love of money and a patent ideology of social control over all else. He’s a passive/aggressive personality, if not indeed a true sociopath. His interactions with public unions demonstrate a severe lack of empathy or even curiosity about the actual concerns of the very employees he was elected to serve.

So it’s no wonder he chooses to “punt” on a very legitimate question from a very legitimate source in the world. Scott Walker will punt us all if it would serve his selfish, psychopathic aims and the economic motives of those who fund his efforts. He’s already proven that at the state level. Let’s hope his sociopathic tendencies are exposed well before he reaches a national stage.

How religious traditions cause conflict here on earth

angels

The linework in this pastel drawing was produced by my daughter Emily Cudworth at the age of five. I took the foundation and built it into a full portrait, which according to her is an image of angels singing above while life on earth below goes on.

Roots of Religion and the Image of God

It is important to establish some level of agreement as to the form and function of a deity in order to believe in it.

A collective agreement on the nature of God most naturally includes the record and results of God’s interaction with the human race. The recorded history of religion is found in books such as the Bible and the Koran of Islam. Genesis and the Old Testament are traditionally regarded as the earliest-recorded history of the Judaic and Christian God. The roots of this same God are shared with the Muslim or Islamic faith.

Muslim, Jewish and Christian worlds remain at odds over “ownership” of God because there is a lack of agreement about the manifestations of God here on earth. Muslims believe the ultimate receiver of the Word of God was the prophet Mohammad, who interpreted the Koran to a scribe. Christians believe that Jesus was the Son of God and that the New Testament is a record of his ministry here on earth. Jews rely on the Torah, or “Old Testament” as delivered to Moses and Abraham. Many in the Jewish faith anticipate the arrival of a Messiah in the future. Both Christians and the Nation of Islam appear to agree that it will be Jesus who returns on Judgment Day.

God, however, is the constant through all these faiths. Religions may squirm and shirk all they like, but the roots of the major monotheistic faith traditions are intractably linked.

These similar but intensely differentiated interpretations of God’s image define the major religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Each provides its own proof that the “image of God” is at once a tangible and intangible thing.

God’s image is consistently tangible in the sense that God holds to an element of form (the Almighty or Creator) but not of substance––hence the development of the Christian Triune God in Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Even within a given religious tradition, such as Christianity, God appears in different forms. These traditions also reflect changes in behavior and attitude of God within the biblical record. Religions love to claim that God is a changeless in the sense that God is always there, but it is pretty hard to argue that a God who calls for genocide and the God who brings Jesus with a call to “Love your enemies” is a changeless deity.

God also appears first as a burning bush and later as a voice in the clouds. Again these manifestations can hardly be characterized as ‘changeless,’ much less something upon which the “image of God” can be radically fixed in terms of a model for humankind.

So the “man in God’s image” model functions only in terms of imitating the being known as God in spirit, not in form, or even character. We are left with an interesting challenge; how to decide which “image” of God and humanity is most accurate and reliable in developing a closer relationship to God.

To solve this argument, religions traditionally turn the attention of believers to the idea of obeying the tenets of the God that defines their respective religious tradition. Though these methods people hope to achieve a reward of heaven or paradise in the afterlife, to be with God.

The process of pursuing a life in God bears many labels: enlightenment, fulfillment, atonement, grace, justification, hope, good works and sacrifice. All are modes of reconciliation to God. These methods of reconciliation are dictated through religious tradition and how that religion projects the image of God over the face of faith. It is these differences in tradition, and by degree, that bring religions into such conflict over how to worship God and live our lives on earth.

Heaven or paradise may be the goal, but the image of God in man––and how that image is to be reflected in our behavior––is what we wrestle over here on earth.

Today’s blog is drawn from excerpts of The Genesis Fix by Christopher Cudworth

The Genesis Fix: A Repair Manual for Faith in the Modern Age

The Genesis Fix: A Repair Manual for Faith in the Modern Age

Daring to imagine what John Lennon would think of the world today

John-Lennon-john-lennon-34078983-1024-768The iconic lyrics of the song IMAGINE by John Lennon have for 30+ years served as an idealistic reminder that the world can be a better place. Yet none other than Elvis Costello took a shot at those lyrics with his own song “The Other Side of Summer” when he wrote,

” Was it a millionaire who said “imagine no possessions”?

Costello was far from the only person who questioned the verity of Lennon’s philosophy. Or should we call it a theology? John Lennon’s god was what at times what he could discern from a mix of anger, insanity and common sense.

Insane people

For example, John Lennon once said, “Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.”

Well it turns out Lennon was pretty accurate about that. The field of psychology has discovered that psychopaths really are running the world. The Atlantic for example ran an article in its July 12, 2012 edition titled “The Startling Accuracy of Referring to Politicians as Psychopaths.”  It bore these words:

“Psychopathy is a psychological condition based on well-established diagnostic criteria, which include lack of remorse and empathy, a sense of grandiosity, superficial charm, conning and manipulative behavior, and refusal to take responsibility for one’s actions, among others. Psychopaths are not all the same; particular aspects may predominate in different people. And, although some psychopaths are violent men (and women) with long criminal histories, not all are. It’s important to understand that psychopathic behavior and affect exist on a continuum; there are those who fall into the grey area between “normal” people and true psychopaths.”

Actions louder than words

So we can say that at some level John Lennon was right. He hit the nail on the head all those years go when he saw insanity in the actions of world leaders conveniently taking nations to war to satisfy their need for manipulation and confrontation.

Lennon might easily have pointed out the inhumanity of using drone fighter planes to shoot people dead without engagement. It’s a pretty crazy capacity that now exists to fight wars. A drone is the psychopath’s perfect weapon because it objectifies people as targets (from a distance) and then removes them from existence. How clean and neat is that? Pretty insane.

But the fact that such drones became essentially necessary to fight terrorism in a part of the world where economic interests have long trampled human rights is the real issue. There’s also the fact that these conflicts are all mixed together with religion and grudges–– new and old––that makes it all truly insane.

It almost takes a psychopath to ignore these facts enough to try to impose an ideology over the surface of it all. That’s what America did under Bush and Cheney. And of course it did not work. Because it was crazy to think it would work.

Insane cheerleaders

The entire enterprise was cheerleaded by a nation and a media that at the time lost its senses in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks. Seeking any sort of enemy at all to attack, the United States lashed out in Iraq and Afghanistan without a real plan. Those who questioned these actions were branded weak or unpatriotic, especially by media sources that aligned themselves with the so-called war effort. A brand of jingoistic fervor bent on revenge burst forth from America’s wounded bowels.

Terror and revolution

We can only imagine John Lennon taking to the streets of his chosen home in New York City to question all that after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It’s unlikely he would have sided with the terrorists and their choice of slamming planes into buildings. Lennon was not necessarily a liberal in that regard. In fact, that’s an easy one:

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world

But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out

Instead Lennon might have encouraged Americans to look inside their own minds to discover whether their nation was acting in good conscience in the first place. The first Iraq War was ostensibly meant to deal with a political nemesis in Saddam Hussein. Yet America helped establish that despot and a few others around the world. Our CIA is always mucking about in the business of other countries. Our own FBI investigated and tormented John Lennon for years about his political views.

Secrets and lies

Lennon understood that’s how the world works. It’s all secrets and lies until someone points it out. Then when the truth is known, the psychopaths try to change the rules to cover up their actions and point the narrative in their own favor. He predicted that behavior in his song Revolution as well:

You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You’d better free your mind instead

Liberals and conservatives

Hence we find ourselves in a cultural war between so-called liberals and so-called conservatives. One is trying to change the Constitution by using the Supreme Court to form the nation around a contradictory ideology of a corporatized and moralistic oligarchy that claims to hate government while trying to rule it. It doesn’t take much political savvy to identify the madness in that formula. Lennon would have called it insane.

Liberals meanwhile view forward progress in terms of leaving troubles behind. That’s not always true of course. And if you pile troubles onto troubles, that does not constitute a better whole.

It’s the philosophy of how to deal with those problems that gets us all into trouble. Conservatives seem interested in hacking the pile to bits and keeping the parts they like. Liberals seem focused taking time to sort it all out. Meanwhile the pile gets bigger.

Faith and all

We’re also facing a religious battle over whether America was formed (or not) as a Christian nation. The Constitution is pretty clear about that. It states clearly that America shall establish no state religion as a requirement of citizenship. It’s freedom of religion and freedom from religion that the nation was founded upon.

That gives us all room to operate with freedom of belief. But some people, primarily those who act like psychopaths, are not happy with the simple liberal principle that we should all be free to believe what we want. Lennon tried to reduce all that to simplicity. IMAGINE if none of that was an issue. If all we needed was cooperation and love to co-exist.

Naive or knowing?

Some call him naive for those lyrics. But what a better imagining that actually constitutes than the world in which media companies owned by a very few despotic individuals feel compelled to preach a religious, political and economic ideology that is contradictory at its heart? Imagine instead that our media went back to genuinely reporting on the facts to the best of its ability. And how ironic: America now gets better and more truthful information about the world from sources such as Al Jazeera and the BBC than Fox News or MSNBC.

I heard the news today, oh boy

John Lennon lamented the manner in which the daily news itself seems to dominate the mind. “I heard the news today, oh boy…about a lucky man, who made the grade…”

His prescience in recognizing that temporary and petty thoughts distract from real values was one of his almost Christ-like qualities. Of course that leadership ability got him into trouble when he warned, not claimed, that the Beatles were becoming more popular than Jesus.

The conservative Christian worlds went nuts on that one, burning records to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with Lennon’s ironically truthful statement. Of course it was John’s point all along that people were out of whack with the whole popularity thing. He ultimately withdrew from the public eye to heal himself from the madness that was Beatlemania. So he was no hypocrite in that regard. The real hypocrites were the obsessive Christians who refused to hear his real message and learn something about themselves, and their children, rather than burning records.

Insights

We all know Lennon was no perfect soul. No one is. However his own psychopathic tendencies may have given him particular insight to the machinations of those trying to gain control of the world at any cost.

That’s why it’s funny that John Lennon loved advertising and its ability to convey complex themes in simple messages. That’s how he came up with brilliant songs such as “All You Need Is Love” and “Give Peace a Chance.” His lyrical mastery was the ability to cull complex messaging down to simple symbols by which people could access the sanity and dispense with the insanity of this world.

In that regard, John Lennon was very much like a certain Jesus Christ, who used simple (often organic) metaphors to teach spiritual principles to all those who would listen.

Listen

It’s no small lesson for all of us…that those who really chose to listen were often not those with the most power. Jesus ran afoul of the religious leaders of his day because his message was far too liberal for their tastes. He questioned their methods and their authority. They conspired then to capture and kill him.

And when Jesus was delivered to the Roman authorities it did not go much better. But according to the Bible, we read that Pontius Pilate at least tried to question Yeshua about the contentions that he was a king. We learn that Pilate then turned the Jewish enigma over to be flogged and crucified. Jesus’ fame as a teacher got him killed, in other words.

No better now

The world likes to think of itself as more sophisticated than the leaders in biblical times. Yet we can readily see the same patterns of people religious control and political force at work today. We still have our Pharisees and our Pilates to contend with.  Witness the conservative media backlash toward Pope Francis for being “too liberal” when the man is basically just preaching what the Bible actually tells people to do. The insane fact is that many so-called Christians have gotten so far away from the roots of their faith they no longer recognize it even when they see it. They are insanely concerned with power and pathetically unable to control their own zealotry. They are the modern-day betrayers of Jesus and His message.

Identities

John Lennon did not identify with the Christian faith, per se. But he surely recognized the insanity of the world and what it can do the hearts and minds of those who are trying madly to do the right thing, but for all the wrong reasons and by all the wrong methods.

That’s how we got where we are, for example, with an American population generally claiming to value life while tens of thousands of people die from unregulated gun violence every year. That’s how John Lennon died. An insane person bearing a gun walked up to him in 1980 and shot him dead, in the head, with a handgun.

Since that time it’s become easier than ever to own and carry guns these days. Even military caliber weapons are available to people who feel a need to shoot them.

Certainly if John Lennon had miraculously survived, as did Congressman Gabrielle Giffords, he might have a few things to say about how insane it really is that this country can’t escape its addiction to guns and the carnage they produce.

And had Lennon actually lived––yet lost his gift of producing music thanks to the brain damage he might have suffered––perhaps he would still find a way to tell us all how crazy the world (and especially America) stil really is.

And if you can’t see or accept that, then you’re one of the insane people trying to make thing happen through insane means. And you need to stop.

The Genesis Fix.

The Genesis Fix is written by Christopher Cudworth, author of The Right Kind of Pride available on Amazon.com.

Where is the real common ground between liberalism and conservatism?

photoThe feedback one gets when commenting as a liberal on social media covers a contradictory spectrum. Either people blame liberal worldviews on an accident of thought (or afterthought) or else accuse such thinkers as having some kind of marginalized, crazily zealous outlook that does not comprehend how the world really works.

The word “liberal” is also used as an insult in such cases. Which is very strange if you actually slow down to think about it. The definition of liberalism almost seems like a foundational value for the American form of democracy laid out in the United States Constitution:

Liberalism: 

  1. progressive views: a belief in tolerance and gradual reform in moral, religious, or political matters
  2. political theory stressing individualism: a political ideology with its beginnings in western Europe that rejects authoritarian government and defends freedom of speech, association, and religion, and the right to own property
  3. free-market economics: an economic theory in favor of free competition and minimal government regulation

That’s like a checklist of American history and American values. So why do so many so-called conservative thinkers claim to hate liberals and liberalism?

There are quite simply explanations actually. The first-rate measure of any hard-line conservative is to have convictions from which you do not back down. But the ironically common ground here is that liberals have quite strong convictions as well. It is understanding the common roots of those convictions that holds the most potential for collaboration on important issues.

For example, despite accusations that most liberals are socialist or communist, liberalism (check the definition above…) most genuinely aligns with free enterprise than any social or economic theory that says change is not good.

Consider the definitions of conservatism as a value system if you do not agree:

  • con·ser·va·tism
  1. reluctance to accept change: unwillingness or slowness to accept change or new ideas
  2. right-wing political viewpoint: a right-of-center political philosophy based on a tendency to support gradual rather than abrupt change and to preserve the status quo
  3. desire to preserve current societal structure: an ideology that views the existing form of society as worthy of preservation.

None of these values really align with a free market philosophy that says change is good at whatever rate it occurs. That’s a bit of cognitive dissonance on the part of conservatives. Yet we also find cognitive dissonance among liberals. Consider the following examples of parallels in cognitive dissonance between liberals and conservatives:

1. If the reluctance to accept change is a hallmark of conservatism, so is the reluctance to deny change a hallmark among liberals who think social justice is being compromised by the status quo.

Common ground? It is the appeal of individual rights and freedoms that forms common ground between conservatives and liberals.

2. Liberals frequently advocate change for the sake of change, no matter how rapid or gradual, as a sign of a progressive society. Conservatives find this to be a meddling worldview, especially when government is involved. And yet the American government was formed to foment and manage change. So which is it?

Common ground: If anything in this world holds true, it is that change occurs whether we want it to or not. It is the imposition of change on social standards that most offends conservatives. So we need to find shared examples of healthy moral change that conservatives and liberals can share as a tradition. These might include the changes wrought when Jesus confronted religious leaders in his day with a new message of faith founded on grace and salvation over law. That same message needed to be reiterated with the advent of Protestantism through Martin Luther and others. Each of these examples demonstrate that both liberals and conservatives have trouble conceiving the real meaning of change and from where it emanates. Even traditional institutions have need of real change.

3. Conservatives love to claim ownership of the free market economy, but it is often true that the free market destroys as much as it creates. That includes many traditional institutions. Common ground: Liberals and conservatives can engage on which elements of society are “worthy of preservation” as outlined in both conservative and liberal ideology. This holds true across a number of fronts; economic, social, environmental and political.

And thus we have it: the real common ground between liberals and conservatives is in this single word: preservation. Of that which is good, including individual freedom and social tolerance. Of that which is prosperous, which includes stewardship as well as progress. Of that which is traditional, because all worldviews have traditions and many originate from the same stories of creation and good books.

The real challenge in all this is to identify and call out cognitive dissonance wherever it occurs. That is, the accusations made by one party against another are often simple ploys to hide the own worst flaws within each of us.

No lack of discipline on either side

The claims against liberals that they are undisciplined in their thinking and lack convictions ignores the fact that genuine liberalism requires real and honest work in terms of thought and belief. Jesus, for example, required much from his disciples while learning the meaning of his ministry.

As a rule, Jesus taught using parables that were metaphors for the true kingdom of God. He grew frustrated when his closest friends and supporters failed to grasp this methodology and missed the point of his teachings as a result. His liberalism actually served as an important tool and access point for the conservative goal of salvation.

No leadership without questioning

Jesus also castigated the conservative religious leaders of his day for accusing him of being too liberal with his behavior and his associations. But those same accusations came from Jesus’ own family and the liberal camp of admirers who loved his welcoming message but also wanted him to become an earthly king. They were disappointed when it did not look like that was going to happen.

So it’s a pretty incredible thing to realize how closely conservatives and liberals lie in this process of cognitive dissonance, and how its revelations illustrate how closely we all operate in the real world.

Failing to try to understand and accept the good things in another is the very thing God calls us to avoid. The real kingdom of God, including all faiths and all belief systems, is about finding and supporting common ground here in this world so that good will can be done “here on earth, as it is in heaven.”

Yet his ultimate method was patience. That is the common ground of Christ, and always that

What “The Blaze” readers have to say about evolution is rather depressing

In order to keep abreast of conservative thinking in this country and beyond, I track a few conservative blogs, news feeds and websites to understand how the “thinking goes,” as they say. These include “The Blaze” which offers an ostensibly insightful news summary each day.

Recently The Blaze proudly linked to a video in which some stalwart creationist resisted a gift from commentator and former NBA star Bill Walton, who handed over a copy of The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin.

This video pissed off the readers of The Blaze to no end. The Blaze added some interview commentary to the posting of the video. Here is how they summarized the actual exchange.

“Here we’ve got ‘The Origin of Species’ by Charles Darwin,” Walton said, handing Pasch the book. “We want to make sure that you believe in evolution.”

Pasch was quick to respond, “I don’t, but I’ll set this over here,” telling Walton that he has a book that counters the arguments presented in “The Origin of Species” and that he would be happy to bring it along with him to the next basketball game.

After some additional banter, Pasch added that perhaps the two could discuss “irreducible complexity” so that he could “straighten [Walton] out.” Irreducible complexity is a controversial theory espoused by some creationists that argues that “some biological systems are so complex and so dependent upon multiple complex parts, that they could not have evolved by chance,”

Actually the concept of “irreducible complexity” is basically a science of denial, not discovery. The idea that some aspects of the world are too complex to have evolved on their own is by nature a philosophical argument, not a scientific verity. It proves nothing but the irreducible stubbornness of some to relinquish antiquated religious and/or scientific beliefs that all we can ever know about the world has already been discovered.

Irreducible complexity cannot be used to engender any pursuit of predictive logic as can the relatively well-known fields of genetics, which regularly depends upon the science of evolution in cells to engineer health and life support strategies driving fields of modern medicine.

Even the foundations of the material world are regularly being explored by scientists in pursuit of mathematically predicted realities such as the Higgs-Boson.

Physics, biology and science as a rule do not depend on God to help describe how the universe functions. That is the issue. There is no specific agenda among scientists to disprove the theory of God. They simply don’t need God to do their work. Some prefer to call this logical approach to science a form of atheism.

Take, for example, the claims by The Blaze reader RabidPatriot who made these comments in response to the article about the anti-science world in which they believe:

RabidPatriot

-Jan. 16, 2015 at 12:06pm

The entire field of evolutionary biology is nothing more than an Atheistic secular progressive cult. Atheist biologists get into the field for the sole purpose of disproving the existence of God. You can’t advance in the field if you have a differing view because of “peer review.” If you publish something that is not inline with Atheistic evolution, the other cult members will give you a negative peer review and then work really hard to discredit everything that you wrote. Even if all if their discrediting papers are nothing more than pseudoscience nonsense, the Atheist cabal will make sure they all get good peer reviews and then shun you from ever advancing in the field or ever getting grant money.
There is a reason why there is a missing link… it doesn’t exist. It’s a waste of time arguing with Atheist evolution cultists. I just let them chase their tail and I go do something worthwhile. They are the same as the man made global warming cultists. They have no proof, and even in the face of discrediting evidence, they still hold true to their cult beliefs.

Well. That’s a really interesting set of contentions isn’t it? But it’s rather a rather confusing worldview. RabidPatriot seems to think there is actually a religious motivation behind all fields of science to disprove the existence of God. Then he wraps that together with a claim that scientists who believe in global warming are part of some kind of “cult” as well. He characterizes “peer reviewed” science as a collegial club determined to come to one conclusion about a theory when in fact nothing is further from the truth. Scientists tear each other apart of their theories. Nothing is sacrosanct. Not even evolution as a principle.

So if there was any sort of credence to these ideas about irreducible complexity, and should they be replicable in any sort of scientific procedure, the scientific community would embrace them if they could be demonstrated to be true.

But they cannot, because again, the entire intelligent design community and its sister belief system creationism are nothing more than a science of denial.

As for the religious overtones of all this, creationism and intelligent design are quite honesty an insult to God. They demand that the Creator is a one-trick pony incapable of change or bringing about life in any way possible. That’s the really sad thing about all of this. RabidPatriot and all his zealous allies miss the point. Like the Catholic Church years ago who refused to believe the Earth was not the center of the universe, these people refuse to believe that human beings and their cloying beliefs are not the center of the universe either. And it’s killing us because as a result, we’re literally holding back the evolution of the human species.

Dealing with the principle Christian complaint(s) about Islam

Muslim Leaders DecryWith every new forceful act by radical terrorists claiming to represent the interests of Islamic faith, the world waits for more moderate Muslims to call such actions to account.

If the headline of the Tribune’s Nation & World section is any indication, there is either a conspiracy to promote moderate Islam or the time has come where the voice of rational Muslims is finally being heard.

That seems to be the Christian’s world’s principle complaint about Islam: that it is a violent religion at its core. Certainly the headlines dominating the presentation of Muslims in the media don’t the help the public image any. In an arc that began with the spiteful terrorist attacks on 9/11 to the most recent murder of cartoonists in France, the influence and obvious intolerance of jihad has been on frequent display.

The Tribune story finally captures the frustration of those representing the sane aspects of Muslim faith. “Lebanon’s Sunni Muslim religious leader, Grand Mufti Abdul-Latif Derian, called on the country’s Muslims to renounce extremism if favor of tolerance,” the story stated. Then it quotes the leader: “The responsibility of all of us is to raise the voice against extremism. Against violence and terrorism. Against the confiscation of truth and righteousness, and the violation of rights and dignities,” Derian told a crowd.

Surely it is good to hear such advocacy for sanity in faith. But before those in the Christian world get too high and mighty about the struggles of Islam to find balance and promote peace, it is important to cast an eye back toward Christianity and its own forceful expression in the world.

Big words

We should not forget that George W. Bush allied himself closely with his Christian faith while in office. His public expressions of that faith were noble in many ways. But they did reveal a not-so-hidden determination to promulgate that faith on the world. When asked about his faith and his politics, Bush replied:

“Religion is an important part. I never want to impose my religion on anybody else. But when I make decisions I stand on principle. And the principles are derived from who I am. I believe we ought to love our neighbor like we love ourself. That’s manifested in public policy through the faith-based initiative where we’ve unleashed the armies of compassion to help heal people who hurt. I believe that God wants everybody to be free. That’s what I believe. And that’s one part of my foreign policy. In Afghanistan I believe that the freedom there is a gift from the Almighty. And I can’t tell you how encouraged how I am to see freedom on the march. And so my principles that I make decisions on are a part of me. And religion is a part of me.”

One cannot help but notice the inclination toward militaristic terminology when Bush spoke about his Christian faith. Christians often blame Muslims for wanting to invoke sharia law in nations where it either boasts a majority or seeks to convert people to its vision of the one true faith. And yet here we witnessed the leader of one of the world’s greatest nations stating in bold simplicity the fact that his faith drives his decisions.

How is the Muslim world supposed to read such language? Coupled with actions such as the invasion of Afghanistan, the overthrow of Iraq and pursuant torture of Iraqi citizens, there is no question why Muslims concerned about the power and influence of Christian faith in America’s actions.

FlagWaiver

Core fears

At the very core of Islamic extremism is a fear that the United States is a corrupting, aggressive power in the world. The United States is considered an aggressor simply through export of its popular culture. In that regard the Christian faith is highly contradictory in its response to the expression of so-called American values. On one hand Americans decry the fact that some Muslim sects seem to oppress women with requirements of dress and behavior. At the same time American Christians struggle with the consistent objectification of women in sexualized ways.

Yet the Christian faith is embroiled in a similar struggle over control of women’s lives. The website Alternet documents the movement known as “Quiverfull” in which women are given a strict role in society. Author Carol Joyce explains this challenge over central doctrine and Christian faith:

“When Americans think of patriarchal societies, female submission, or extreme gender inequality based on religious teachings, visions of Muslim women in burkas or Hindus in poorly arranged marriages may come to mind. The reality, though, is that a growing number of American Christian fundamentalists also have rejected feminism and egalitarianism, embracing instead male dominance and what they call the “Quiverfull” belief system. Picture the Massachusetts Bay Colonies before Hester Prynne‘s day. The women in such communities live within a stringently enforced doctrine of wifely submission and male “headship,” including a selfless acceptance of possibly constant pregnancies and as many children under foot as God might bring. They reject not only “reproductive rights” of any kind, but also higher education and workforce participation for women.”

Critical thinking

The right to criticize or even question such practices is almost verboten in the Christian world, where calling fellow Christians to task somehow seems to be considered bad sport. Or, where there is criticism, Christians of many stripes seem to hide behind the flapping banner of persecution for their beliefs.

But let’s consider the issue of persecution in a full light. There is genuine persecution in which Christians are captured, killed or slaughtered in nations where the faith is not accepted. That is an undeniable challenge, exacerbated by the current fact that in many nations it is the so-called Christians still doing the killing. 

However the claims that Christians are being isolated for persecution may not be so accurate as some would lead us to believe. “I am very disappointed by the response of the U.S. government and State Department in the protection and advocacy for persecuted Christians,” he said. “The power and leadership vacuum within the United States has created a very dangerous situation in Iraq for Christians,” said Open Doors CEO David Curry to The Christian Post.

Okay, let’s examine that statement in its full context. American invaded Iraq on the very slim premise that there were weapons of mass destruction being produced by then-leader Saddam Hussein. We barely provided protection to the nation’s resources except for its oil, and then turned around and in the process of war, slaughtered thousands of Iraqis, openly tortured suspected terrorists (many of whom were innocent) and actually drew Islamic terrorists to the nation through these actions.

To turn around and complain that it is Christians who are being persecuted and that the Obama administration is responsible is so grandly false a contention it begs genuine criticism from within both Islam and Christianity. America as a nation is deeply conflicted by its own acts of aggression and the response of terrorists in return.

DSCN1904Soft yet poisonous

There is also a softer yet no less damaging claim of persecution that uses religious freedom as a form of shield against questions within the Christian faith community.Witness the reaction to Pope Francis by the likes of Fox News, which does not like the Pope’s politics or his faith. These hit pieces demonstrate the fact that Christianity has become a political tool for American conservatives. As the Fox News contentions demonstrate, American conservatives consider Pope Francis a “radical” for the simple fact that his views express the socially liberal aspects of the ministry of Jesus Christ. Fox News does not like liberalism in any form, including that of the faith’s leading modern representatives or its progenitor, the one and only Jesus Christ.

The effects of cloistered Christian faith are evident in public surveys showing that between 30-50% of American Christians do not believe in the scientific theory of evolution and thus refuse to grasp or understand even the basic science driving modern medicine, business and the ensuing effects of industrialization such as climate change.

These comprehensions are inherently linked to worldview, and Christians are the absolute worst at promoting the most basic appreciation for cause and effect. Many prefer instead the magic explanations of creationism and intelligent design, both of which are not science but elaborate confabulations of religious denial. They are complex as a defense mechanism against modernism, and that is all. But they poison the public dialogue and even America’s reputation in a world that has grown to value science as a great human equalizer in the fabric of international decisions. American conservative Christians advocate a worldview that is aggressively ignorant, stubborn and selfish. That makes the world hate us and leave Islam room to question whether Christianity really has its act together or not.

Internally conflicted

Thus the principle complaints against Islam by conservative Christians and their political allies display deep internal conflicts in the worldview collectively known as Christianity. Like Islamic terrorists married to the ideal of jihad as a means to change and control the world, politically conservative Christians fail to see their own contradictory visage as a threat to the world.

There is a sickness at the heart of Christian conservatism that has infested the heart of the faith all the way back to the people Jesus Christ fought for control of the narrative of the Judaic tradition. And by way of that mention, we should consider the persecution of Jews by so-called Christians over the ages as an example of the hypocrisy Christians like to claim in their complaints against Islam.

It is extremist religion in all cases that produces such grand horror in this world. To point a finger at another faith as the principle cause of such persecution and terror in the world is not just ironic or hypocritical. It is dangerous and wrong.