Are you being raped

The big word on the street this week from leading conservative voices such as Sean Hannity is that Marco Rubio really “stepped in it” during the last Republican debate.

Governor Chris Christie essentially called Rubio a robot for repeating the same 25-word speech three times…about how Rubio does not like the fact that Obama is trying to change America.

Well, duh. That’s what Obama promised to do in both his campaigns. And what does the Republican Party promise to do in return? “Take Back America” is its primary slogan, and the phrase is also repeated ad nausea by all the Republican candidates. They are all, in a word, acting like conservative robots.

Rubio isn’t a robot so much as an automoton. So let’s consult the dictionary to examine what that really means. “An automaton (plural: automata or automatons) is a self-operating machine, or a machine or control mechanism designed to follow automatically a predetermined sequence of operations, or respond to predetermined instructions. Some automata, such as bellstrikers in mechanical clocks, are designed to give the illusion to the casual observer that they are operating under their own power.”

That fits Rubio perfectly. And sad to say, there are a whole lot of conservatives who like that brand of predictability just fine, as long as it aligns with their desire for doctrinal control.

Clutch Cargo

clutch_cargoRubio is certainly moving his lips to spit out conservative doctrine. Yet he somehow comes off like one of those Clutch Cargo cartoons from years ago. You know the one, where the creepy lips are projected through a static cartoon face in 1960s low grade animation? And that would be accurate except for that fact that Marco Rubio and his cartoon logic on issues such as abortion date from the 1950s at best. So let’s talk about rape, since that what Marco Rubio thinks he does best.

Rape is harmless to women

Rubio thinks, or so he says, that women should have the babies caused by rapists no matter what. “It’s a terrible situation,” Rubio said. “I mean, a crisis pregnancy, especially as a result of something as horrifying as that, I’m not telling you it’s easy. I’m not here saying it’s an easy choice. It’s a horrifying thing that you’ve just described.”

“I get it,” he added. “I really do. And that’s why this issue is so difficult. But I believe a human being, an unborn child has a right to live, irrespective of the circumstances of which they were conceived. And I know that the majority of Americans don’t agree with me on that.”

Rubio defensively claims that he actually “gets it.” Yet he then flatly turns around to deny women the authentic right to control what happens to their own bodies. He is calling rape an essentially harmless action, meant to be dismissed as a “terrible situation” by women unlucky enough to experience such a criminal violation.

Lack of prescience

Senator Rubio of Florida speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor, Marylan

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida 

Rubio goes on to admit that a majority of Americans don’t agree with him on the issue. Basically, he is also saying that the freedom for a woman to determine the outcome of a rapist’s violent crime is non-existent. This is heinous disregard for human rights. It is also abetting the cause of rapists to commit such a crime and then claim rights to the child. It is patent approval of the act of rape.

The lack of conscience in such a position is breathtaking and should automatically disqualify any person from a position in public office, much less the President of the United States.

Rubio apparently thinks his interpretation of the Law of God somehow trumps the United States Constitution and Supreme Court rulings that protect the rights of women to control their personal reproductive freedom.

Rape of the angels

But Rubio’s possibly theological point actually goes against examples from scripture in which God rules on rape and abuse of others. Let’s take the famous story of Sodom and Gomorrah, for example.  You may recall that when a pair of angels shows up at the house of Lot in the town of Sodom, a group of rowdy townspeople arrives at Lot’s door demanding the strangers be turned over (as was ‘the custom’ of the day) to be raped and sexually abused for the simple crime of having no place to stay after nightfall.

Yet rather than comply with the demands of the unruly mob to turn over the strangers to be abused, Lot offers up his own two daughters as ransom for the safety of the two men he has offered shelter in his house.

We are forced to ask: what if that story actually resulted in that outcome? What if Lot’s daughters had indeed been turned over to the crowd to be raped, and then were forced to have the children from unidentified fathers? Then (and only then) we might have to agree with Marco Rubio that God agrees that it’s a just cause to rape women and demand they have those children.

Rape as an act of war

Gustave_dore_crusades_entry_of_the_crusaders_into_constantinopleScholarly studies of such issues show that rape is indeed often used as a war on women. In her treatise title “Rape, Women and War,” scholar Angela Robinson documents how throughout history, rape has served as a tool of disenfranchisement in war and cultural conflicts. “The rape of women has been utilized as a tactic of terror in wars since the beginning of armed conflicts. It appears to go through three main stages: First, rape is a routine and expected reward to the victors. Secondly, rape occurs due to a lack of military discipline. Finally, rape occurs as a military technique to demoralize the opposition. Through these horrific actions, women experience the loss of home and the loss of land, which is synonymous with the loss of identity. This is known as ethnic cleansing.”

So we see that given Rubio’s position on rape and apparent ownership of women by men, the Republican War and Women is real. And despite his claims of virtuous theology and protection of the so-called unborn, Marco Rubio is dead wrong about God’s ultimate intent for rape victims.

Lots of lessons

Because rather than encouraging Lot give over the two men under his protection to an abusive crowd seeking to use rape as an expression of power, God’s servants instead grant protection to Lot and his family. The servants then warn Lot to get the hell out of town. Lot and his family are warned not to look back, yet Lot’s wife is turned into a pillar of salt for violating that promise. God does like those who doubt his intentions, or have prurient curiosities.

Yet the harsh lesson of the Bible, and the message Marco Rubio refuses to comprehend, is that God does not indeed favor the acts of abusers.

Because if he did, God would have allowed Lot’s daughters to be thrown out into the streets for rape and abuse, and then be forced to carry the bastard children of the men willing to commit such acts.

Think about it: Marco Rubio is telling your daughter that if she gets raped, she has to bear that child. He’s telling your wife that if she gets raped, she has to have that baby. He’s telling all the men of America that it is not worth even trying to protect the women in their life, because if some man rapes them, it is actually God’s will that child should be born. There is nothing anyone can do about it.

Of course, that was not the lesson conveyed in the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. Nor is it an acceptable narrative according to the map of human rights laid out in the United States Constitution. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness do not include having to bear the child of a rapist, or to be gunned down in the streets because you refuse to carry a handgun. This is lawlessness as a political doctrine, not political freedom.

Anger sells and greed propels

Yet there are millions of ignorant people out there who favor the doctrine of men like Marco Rubio because they speak with the force of conviction. And quite often, this brand of conviction sounds a lot like theology. And when an entire political party claims to own the wisdom of God, it gets easier to sell a brand of angry, selfish schtick as truth.

This is the methodology of angry, abusive, misogynistic political doctrine the Republican Party and its media mouthpieces have espoused for years. Sometimes they use dogwhistle terms, euphemisms and confessional language to get the point across. But the effects are just the same. The KKK claims to be a service organization even while it works to undermine the rights of blacks and other minorities. All such euphemistic claims are designed to hide the anger, fear and greed behind such prejudicial movements. Anger sells and greed propels. It’s as simple as that.

Ugly aims in plain sight

As long as we’re being honest, let’s also be direct. A political machine like the Republican Party (the automaton of conservatism) that simultaneously works to ban women from using birth control while telling them that rape is an activity they must accept to the point of bearing a rapist’s child is a confused, nasty brute of a machine. It does not deserve to exist. This isn’t about free speech any longer. This is about gaining and protecting human rights for all people. Conservatives love to claim that a fetus is already a person, and promote many compelling examples to prove their point. But whey then do so many Republicans seem to hate Planned Parenthood, an organization designed to empower women in controlling their own reproductive health. And prevent the need for abortions.

But of course, Republicans want to defund Planned Parenthood over the supposed moral issue of having sex outside of marriage, or without the goal of procreations. But  conservatives are hypocrites about that, too. Even the so-called rhythm method, a birth control effort advocated by the Catholic Church, is a knowing attempt to avoid conception. Hypocrisy, in other words, because the Lord typically considers intent as bad as the real crime.

Conservative cabal

U.S. Senator Cruz speaks to members of the Texas Federation of Republican Women in San Antonio, Texas

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida

So the clear intention of the conservative cabal, if Marco Rubio and his ilk have their way, is to impose sexual and social control over women while accepting none of the responsibilities of being a principled human being, and worthy of trust and respect.

As a result, the Republican Party has also become an automaton of vicious, contradictory lies. Marco Rubio unwittingly captures this Republican fealty to male dominance and disrespect toward women, and men like Donald Trump are certainly no better. Ted Cruz is an obvious family fake. Take a look at his recent contrived video and the lengths to which he must go to get his own family to play along with his worthiness.

And the lone woman candidate on the Republican side is a person so obsessed with preventing abortions she refuses to change her story about a fake video even after it was proven to be a lie.

And so, there are no signs that any Republican has a remotely enlightened attitude toward women. Certainly their lead spokesperson Rush Limbaugh, who dispensed with no less than four wives, knows nothing about how to treat or respect women.

It has become evident that the Party of Elephants has dissolved into a Passel of Pigs. Snorting and derogatory behind the scenes, they like to make nice and religious-like in public to cover up their possessively penile priorities. But their shallow debates and thinly disguised prejudices toward women, minorities, are the drivel that has driven the Republican agenda for years. Fortunately, Republicans also don’t know how to govern, so their fecklessness has allowed America to continue is progressive advancement of human rights despite the fascist goals of the neo-conservative regime.

Brimstone

katrina_maxsurgeIf you tune into Republican rallies with their angry moods and Take Back America chants, it truly brings to mind the crowds of men assembled outside the house of Lot. They keep making demands and pressing on the liberal aims of Lot, which are simply to make his house and home a place of protection for the immigrants that have come into his care.

So let’s recall what happens to the angry crowds Lot leaves behind when he and his family leave town. God sends brimstone down upon Sodom, wiping out the abusers, and not the abused.

So perhaps it will happen that God will not bring about the apocalypse as so many Republican conservatives like to predict. Instead he may choose to cast firey brimstone on the Republican landscape and bury the GOP Congress under its sulphurous force. That would be the Congress that has threatened the public for years, and attempted a very public rape of Hillary Clinton’s reputation by conducting countless expensive investigations into the supposed scandal they branded Benghazi. But nothing stuck because there was nothing there that was done wrong.

The same Congress has made multiple attempts at raping a health care law that delivered millions of new policies to Americans in need of coverage, especially those with pre-existing conditions. The Congress along with the Republican-controlled Senate even raped the American government itself, shutting it down for ideological reasons.

It would appear the reason Republicans want to “take back America” is to rape it for all their worth, then blame the ensuing costs of raising their babies on the liberals.

Source of link: http://www.usm.edu/gulfcoast/sites/usm.edu.gulfcoast/files/groups/learning-commons/pdf/rape_women_and_war.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Christianity needs healing

BruisesThere is so much pain in the world. Christians seeking to heal that pain rightfully turn to their faith as a means to promote forgiveness that can relieve personal and spiritual pain. That leads to healing.

The challenge to this process is in learning how to use the Bible to communicate the forgiveness that leads to healing. The Christian church with all its variegations and interpretations of the Bible is not much help.

The prime example of how to understand scripture rests with Jesus Christ, who taught using parables anchored in organic symbolism to convey spiritual principles such as love, mercy and justice. Christ’s parables made the kingdom of God accessible to all.

Authoritarians

This example was lost on those whose zealotry for godly authority drove them to turn scripture into law. Jesus, therefore, experienced conflicts with religious authorities who refused his often symbolic warnings and prophecies. When Jesus threatened to knock down the temple and rebuild it in three days, people mocked and laughed at him because the stone temple had taken years to build.

But that’s the point of scripture: it uses hyperbole to express the spiritual wonders of God.

People who take the Bible literally often miss these crucial examples. The Book of Genesis is one such book that has been raked and damaged by those mining it for literal interpretations of the Creation story. As a result, Christianity itself has been ripped up the middle by this divisive interpretation of Genesis. Jesus himself would be aghast at what has become of the Creation story in the hands of these so-called Christian perpetrators, religious fundamentalists without imagination, hope or trust that God’s Word can do more than talk like an ignorant child.

Recovery

So Christianity needs healing. It needs to be recovered from the wounding hands of those who try to use it as a weapon against modernity and science. It needs to be rescued from the medieval notion that Christianity necessarily needs to be a Crusade for religious anachronism and the threat of sending all to hell who do not abide by zealous literalism.

Conservative policies are often not what they seem

A viper waits below the surface.

Again, Jesus called that brand of believer “hypocrites” for casting blame against all those who broke the rules they created. He further characterized them as a “brood of vipers.” Take note of Christ’s use of naturalism to explain that powerful concept familiar to all. You don’t want to enter the den of venomous snakes, do you? Well, then we’re supposed to know that it’s best to avoid those who turn literalism into legalism.

None other than Pope Francis of the Catholic Church is promoting a departure from legalism, literalism and faith build on ramparts of dogma and divisiveness. Of course he’s getting tons of resistance from religious conservatives stuck in the past and happy to use the divisiveness of legalism to win political and religious converts to their own benefit, power and authority.

It will take quite an effort to recover the faith from the hands of these murderous intents.

Modernity

So the healing of Christianity needs to come from these clear warnings from Christ. There is no need to castigate science or evolution as oppositional to God. There is no call to avoid modernity at all, for the Word of God is eternal, not intransigent.

What follows is a passage of healing for all Christians to consider. It is written with all loving intent, for it is designed to heal the rent between old brands of faith and a new, truly born-again approach to faith in God and Christ.

This communicates the basics of a sustainable brand of faith that does not cower before science or force people to rent the gut of Christian faith in order to demonstrate their fealty to God. Consider it a creed of sorts, for Sustainable Faith in the modern age.

Healing Christianity

Evolution explains our material origins. The Bible explains our spiritual origins. Genesis represents humankind’s spiritual awakening to God, our birth, as it were, into that relationship. The entire Foundation of scripture depends upon deeply organic imagery to describe creation and how that is an expression of God’s love for the world. Jesus taught using parables anchored in naturalism as well. He did so to make spiritual concepts accessible to all those who would listen. When his disciples either refused these methods or did not get it, he called them “dull” for missing the vitality and purpose of these metaphorical stories. Christ’s example is how we need to look at the entire Bible in order to grasp its connections between material and spiritual truth. Jesus would have no trouble with Darwin, evolution or science.

Jesus taught using parables anchored in naturalism as well. He did so to make spiritual concepts accessible to all those who would listen. When his disciples either refused these methods or did not get it, he called them “dull” for missing the vitality and purpose of these metaphorical stories. Christ’s example is how we need to look at the entire Bible in order to grasp its connections between material and spiritual truth. We repeat: Jesus would have no trouble with Darwin, evolution or science.

Christ’s example is how we need to look at the entire Bible in order to grasp its connections between material and spiritual truth. In fact, he celebrated nature as expressive of God’s fidelity, but also free will and change. Evolution and free will go together, you see. Our lives are not predestined, and God makes no guarantees of happiness, wealth or favor. But our relationship with God and Christ overcomes all such circumstances with faith and grace.

In the end, it is our spirit that defines us. The body withers and fades away. This is true for all living things from amoeba to insect to bird to ape to human beings. Dust to dust. But explaining our evolutionary and proven material relationship with nature is no crime of thought. Through genetics, we understand that human beings share 98% of our genes with apes, and more than 60% of all our genetic material with every living creature on earth. We are connected, in other words, to all of creation.  

This worldview mimics that of Jesus Christ and the Bible, and we should grasp that worldview in the same way. There is only conflict between the world and God if you make it so. Yet that explains much of the state of religion and politics today. 

Christianity needs healing. It must begin with this understanding that Jesus Christ was our leader in how to approach and understand the organic roots of scripture and our relationship with God.

The Virgin Mary needs a better publicist

virginmaryPoor National Geographic. Since being purchased by the conservative scion Rupert Murdoch, the first issue out of the gates is a massive tip of the hat to conservative religious ideology. The biblical figure of Mary is hailed as the most powerful woman in the world.

Of course the figure of Mary carries with it some heavy theological baggage. That would be the so-called Virgin Birth.

How unsettlingly ironic this new testament to the power of womanhood really is. The Virgin Mary myth begins with the idea that the Son of God could not be conceived by conventional sexual means. Instead, it requires an immaculate conception in which the Holy Spirit essentially rapes a woman for God’s supposed purposes.

So, the question has never been answered. Is she still a virgin after this conception? Or is pregnancy not somehow an establishment of womanhood? Which is it?

How the Virgin Mother myth evolved

We know by now that the concept of a virgin birth (itself a malapropism) is adopted from other cultures to serve the idea that a supernatural being has entered the human race. The idea that some people become gods through status or divination was important to ancient cultures seeking leaders for military, cultural or religious purposes.

Buddha was ostensibly born of a virgin. So were many other goddesses and mothers in religious history. All impregnated by heavenly spirits.

Christianity was late to the game but just as determined to turn their Virgin Mother myth into a powerful religious meme. So the New Testament does a bit of work to make that a seeming reality. The Book of Matthew tells the story as a sort of scandal in which Joseph considers divorcing his wife when he learns that she is pregnant without his seed.

“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Matthew 1:20-21 NIV

Virgin Births in the Modern Age

A group of University of North Carolina scientists dug into the issue of virgin births in the modern era. Their findings were interesting, as the main pool of people claiming “virgin birth” were Christian women who took the vow of chastity or some other indication of purity (abstinence education, for example).

The articles notes:

“Except for in the Bible, virgin births or asexual reproduction occur only in the plant world and among a small group of vertebrates: pit vipers, boa constrictors, sharks and Komodo dragons.”

Of course none of these creatures considers virgin birth all that important. Asexual reproduction is a matter of practicality, not miraculous events.  But it does make one think hard about the fact that both John the Baptist and Jesus referred to religious leaders of the day as “a brood of vipers.”

Brood of Vipers indeed

That was because the original fundamentalists of the Jewish faith were caught up in the process of turning religious laws into a power structure that conferred them political advantage and wealth. If you tried to divest them of that power, they struck at you like a brood of vipers. In fact that is exactly what got Jesus killed. He was bitten by the poison power of fundamentalism.

In his absence, the ministry of Jesus Christ was hijacked by similar zealots who then interpreted the story of his existence to fit their desires in some ways. They had already aggressively borrowed traditions like the virgin birth to make predictions in what Christians call the Old Testament.  It was now up to the authors of the New Testament to make those prophecies “pay off.”  Competitive prophecies have to fit together like a puzzle or they are unconvincing. Hence the Virgin Birth was canonized and copied over and again in the Gospel narratives.

Beyond theft and deceit

If this makes you sad to think about, don’t be alarmed. We can still believe in the power and majesty of Jesus Christ without the stolen myths of pagan religions to prop up the story. The teachings of Christ are sufficient in wisdom and transformative power to work miracles in the lives of everyone they touch. Men such as Thomas Jefferson saw this and extracted the miracle stories from the Bible to put greater focus on the wisdom of the man we call the Son of God.

But thanks to the conservative, patriarchal tradition in which men competitively want to cherish the notion of owning and then taking the virginity of a woman, we’re forced into reciting this falsehood in Christian creeds and other ways.

New Conservative Zealots

It’s no coincidence that the magazine National Geographic has been forced into parroting the Virgin Mary myth by its new conservative owner Rupert Murdoch. Oppression of women is a favorite habit of male conservatives.

One wonders how that actually squares with the supposed humility of Mary’s husband Joseph, who demurely accepts the idea that his wife is pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Would conservative men of this day and age accept that as truth? Or would they behave like conservative commentators such as Rush Limbaugh, who branded Sandra Fluke a “slut” simply for advocating the idea that birth control should be covered under health care plans? We already know the answer to that one, don’t we?

Perception and truth

Again, perception is often more powerful than truth. The University of North Carolina study found a not-too-surprising commonality among women claiming to be virgins and even men claiming to be virgins even though their wives were already pregnant. “For the larger original study in 1995, which included both males and females, she said scientists were surprised by some of the findings. “There were a few virgin fathers lurking around in data field,” said Herring.

The article states: “We found [the “virgin birth” phenomenon] was more common among women who signed chastity pledges or whose parents indicated lower levels of communication with their children about sex and birth control,” said Herring.

“The immaculate conception group may have been small, but researchers did find an even larger group, whom they called “born again virgins. “They reported in an earlier study a pregnancy, then later said they were virgins,” said Herring. “Those may have been a misclassification issue.”

False Virgins

Such may be the genuine case with the so-called virgin Mary. The controversy about her “virginity” stems from interpretation of the Hebrew word almah, which can just as logically mean “young maiden” as virgin. But given this prophecy from the book of Isaiah, one can understand the longing for fulfillment of this passage: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel,” (Isaiah 7:14).

Who made the original mistake? Likely a patriarchal author seeking to compete or outdo competitive religious claims to godhood. Then it got worse with the advent of Jesus.

As noted on the website Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, “The LXX is a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek. This translation was made around 200 B.C. by 70 Hebrew scholars. In Isaiah 7:14, they translated the word, almah, into the Greek word, parthenos. According to A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature,2 parthenos means virgin. This word is used in the New Testament of the Virgin Mary (Matt. 1:23, Luke 1:27) and of the ten virgins in the parable (Matt. 25:1, 7,11).”

How the Virgin Birth hurts us all

What is the damage to all these Virgin Birth claims? For starters, it sets up an artificial standard for the divinity of Christ.

It undermines the notion that normal sexual relations can serve to fulfill holy means.

It depicts women as subservient to a male standard of desirability.

It enforces a power structure in which women are property rather than human beings.

It deceives millions of women into thinking that chastity is preferable over a healthy, normal sex life.

It egregiously twists the notion of bible prophecy to fit the aims of a perpetual “brood of vipers” seeking to control the biblical narrative for their own select purposes. Often these aims include the oppression of women. The fact that so many women buy into this narrative is a sad consequence of history.

What would Jesus say? 

None of this would have been necessary if it were up to Jesus himself to determine the notion of a Virgin Birth. He fully accepted the earthiness of life and embraced in his most intimate teachings the organic foundations of the world because these symbolized the creative powers of God. Is not conception itself a miracle? Ask anyone that has tried and not been able to conceive whether that is true or not.

Jesus would not have demanded that his mother be called a virgin in order to be blessed. It’s as simple as that. Of course the faith developed in his name will not likely abandon the falsehood of the Virgin Mary myth because it is a cult unto its own means. After all, we have politicians and religious leaders claiming to represent Christianity while simultaneously advocating greed, dunning the poor, espousing racism and discrimination and battling with other faiths over power and authority here on earth.

None of these things is Christian. They are as false as the Virgin Birth. So it should be no surprise that so many people are misled by the “brood of vipers” that continues to vex the world to this day.

But that doesn’t mean that rational believing Christians have to play along in the myth that disrespects and abuses real womanhood.

 

 

The height of arrogance and the depth of denial

DSCN1904The Republican propensity for denial of responsibility and grasp of fact is now so revered among the party’s elite it has become the first tool of response to any challenge.

The most recent denial of fact is the Republican claim that their last President of the United States was not, in fact, actually the President when the 9/11 tragedy took place. The initial volley about the issue came from none other than Donald Trump, ostensibly the Republican leading the polls among conservatives. This is what Trump said about George W. Bush and his responsibility for 9/11.

“When you talk about George Bush, I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time,” Trump said. “He was President, okay? Don’t blame him or don’t blame him, but he was President. The World Trade Center came down during his reign,” Trump replied. ”

O Brother

Those simple facts did not set well with Jeb Bush, another Republican hopeful who has repeatedly claimed that his brother George “kept us safe.”

He may have been referring to the idea that no additional foreign terror attacks took place during the remaining years of the Bush presidency. But as noted, Trump was having none of that nonsense.

This harsh divide manifested in Trump’s domineering approach to criticism breaks with the Republican tradition of attacking only the opposition and not criticizing their own. That has been the presiding, if not perfect, strategy behind the Republican push for power over several decades. There may be ugly fights behind the scenes among Republicans, but the goal has always been to keep those spats private.

Breaking the rules

Trump is not playing by any of those rules, and as a result, is not really running for the Republican nomination so much as he is forcing the party to reform itself around this meme of gaining power at all costs. Even by Trump’s standards, that means leaving the rest of the nasty baggage behind. This could be the ironic salvation of Republicanism, if not the Republican Party itself.

See, the tradition of denying its own failures has both a benefit and a cost. Sooner or later you get to the obvious and well-documented parts of recent history, and you must deny even these to continue on the path toward power. The denials launch from the dusty calls of legislatures and courts on Constitutional matters to exploding buildings and wars started by sitting Presidents who stretched the truth to justify their ideology and their actions. In other words, you can only win by breaking every rule of conscience and truth.

Trumped at their own game

That’s what Trump is calling to account, and Jeb Bush has put his image of brotherly love and political credibility on the line, deciding to throw his support behind his brother’s claims of success rather than confont the facts, which point to a massive failure in intelligence, both gathered and native, by his apparently dimwit brother.

Yes, George W. Bush did some stupid things, and Donald Trump is having nothing to do with making excuses for what he perceives as the dumbing down of recent history. What we’re witnessing in real time is the height of arrogance and the depth of denial running the Republican Party. Their grasp of reality isn’t just slipping away, it is gone entirely.

Denial as a worldview

IMG_5827Republicans also deny the science behind global climate change on claims it is arrogant to think human beings could ever cause such a massive shift in the earth’s foundational temperatures.

Look at how that works. The GOP hates Al Gore for his claim that global climate change is, to quote a phrase, “An Inconvenient Truth.” So by directing their anger toward Al Gore they accomplish two things. Poor Al tends to come off as arrogant in his general demeanor, which makes him an ideal target for Republican denial of fact. They use him to deflect the factual arrogance of denying 97% of the world’s climate scientists who find tons of evidence that our current pattern of rising temperatures and warming oceans is a result of human activities.

But think about what’s happening here. If it is possible to deny the fact that 9/11 happened under the watch of George W. Bush, denying the complex and scientifically predicted influence of climate change is simple by comparison. The height of arrogance and the depth of denial work together fantastically in the propaganda-driven mode by which the Republican Party communicates.

In other words

As a result, terms like “sustainability” and “gun control” become catchphrases and buzzwords of resistance in the party of denial. These terms bespeak change in favor of temperance and planning, which are translated as government intervention by the party with a professed aversion for government even as it seeks total dominance over the three branches of jurisdiction; the Presidency, legislature and the courts.

This is the height of arrogance and the depth of denial at its most sinister level. To claim to hate the thing you want to rule is both an arrogance in purpose and a denial of responsibility.

Christian fakes

That’s what’s taking place on a grand scale here in America. The height of arrogance and the depth of denial also rules the brand of Christianity used to back Republican aims. The movement to wield the power of Christian faith in politics without abiding by the basic principles of Christianity is now 30-40 years old. Conservatives seeking to align their supply-side economics with biblical authority conveniently ignore the call to divest themselves of wealth in favor of spiritual governance. As a result, churches feel free to politicize and make the claim that you cannot be both liberal (ne: a Democrat) and a Christian.

Running interference

It’s no surprise that the inconvenient truth of science, especially the theory of evolution, interferes with this narrative that a fundamentally literal interpretation of the Bible is the only way to gain truth. This also denies the fact that Jesus taught using metaphors drawn from nature to explain important spiritual principles.

Donald Trump's proposed golf courseWhen pressed about his own faith and love for the Bible, Donald Trump ripped a page right out of the Republican playbook with this statement: “I wouldn’t want to get into it. Because to me, that’s very personal,” he said. “The Bible means a lot to me, but I don’t want to get into specifics.”

Again, the height of arrogance and the depth of denial is at work.

Twitterized

But not everyone buys this brand of junk. Using his own quotes and philosophy, folks on Twitter took after Trump (and by proxy, all of RepublicanLand) with a feed called #TrumpBible. Take a look at how they handed Trump his stupid hat.

It’s time we all got a bit wiser about how this game of arrogance and denial really works. No one should get away with stupid remarks like Jeb Bush claiming his brother was not responsible for 9/11, or the partnered meme that Bush was not even President when it happened nine months after he was installed as President.

The sad fact is that so many people prefer the height of arrogance and the depth of denial. It fulfills their worldview on many fronts, exonerating them from responsibility for painful social issues such as gun violence, racism and economic exploitation. Let’s be honest and hold these people accountable. Stop letting your friends and conservative associates turn bald-faced denials and unaccountable arrogances into something resembling fact.

Donald Trump is just the starting point. He symbolizes the so-called anger expressed by so many Americans, and for all the wrong reasons. Denial is not a form of government. It is the absence of governance, and an entire lack of conscience.

Don’t let them get away with it. Call them out. The height of arrogance and the depth of denial is exactly what is killing American hopes and a future fit for all.

An evolutionary look at race, religion and class warfare

Toward the end of a seven-mile run in a prairie park in Wisconsin, my companion and I passed a group of soccer players engaged in a pickup match on a small mowed field. They wore the jerseys of teams from Mexico, Central America and Europe. Soccer is the world’s game, you see.

Earlier on the run we’d seen a group of women and children walking the gravel path together. These were the wives and children of the soccer players, for they all gathered together under a shade tree when the match was done.

I’d turned to my companion and said to her, “Just think, their descendants came to this continent from the other side of Pacific.”

Routes-oF-Ancient-Americas-migrationsScience and genetics tell us the people who settled the North American and South American continent came over the land bridge to Alaska. Through human evolution and adaptation to environment these post-Asian peoples populated a highly diverse and unknown world. In many cases their skin evolved toward a brown or red color in response to hot, sunny climates. In that small way they were evolving back towards the dark-skinned origins of the African past from which we all came.

Civilization

These tales of massive emigration provide important foundations for discussion of the human race and the racism that drives much of its self-perception. We know that highly evolved civilisations in Egypt and Asia emerged from the original migration out of Africa. Their mathematics, arts and sciences represented a Renaissance of importance to all of civilization. Even through dark times in history and wars of slaughter over tribe, race and wealth, it was this belief in self and the theater of the mind that remained most important in sustaining human life and progress. In the wake of all this movement were structures representing the human desire to reach for the sky and deities. The pyramids of Egypt and the temples of the Aztecs evolved as the highest expression of human culture on earth.

Behind the Eight Ball

8-Ball Wallpaper 1024x768Back in Israel and the Middle East the concurrent battles over worldview were taking place a little later than the Asian and Central American pursuit of self-realization. Yet the events that took place there in the sands and hills around Jerusalem were telling in their net results.

The Romans had long tried to impose their values and their religion through force, but ultimately what emerged triumphant in that society was a faith supposedly architected for peace. The Eight Ball of fortune and force turned out to be wrong.

Christianity was embraced as the official religion of the state through Constantine, but its message of tolerance and brotherly was ultimately subverted for a focus on triumph of holy will. Because as Europe was settled, the warlike aspects of a largely white race of human beings found tremendous and convenient mobility in the history of the religion they embraced. Once the Jewish temples had been razed a few times over, faith become mobile. Canonized in a Bible, The Word superseded the traditional anchor of capitol and place.

Of course the Jewish Torah tried to accomplish the same thing, but that story took a different path. Blamed for the sacrifice of Christ, the Jews became targets for violence rather than partners in history. Just as they had experienced before in history, the Jewish people were left without a home. So they too used their wits, replacing capitol (city or state) with capital (money and negotiation) as a means to survive.

Where once the Judeo-Christian culture knew its place in the temples of Jerusalem, and capitol was where God could be found, the culture actually reversed course (or was forced yet again) to become a nomadic people all over again. Capitol was traded for pursuit of capital, and anyone that stood in the way of that pursuit became the enemy. But this adaptation became a parallel point of competition between Christians and Jews, who were in turn doubly ostracized and persecuted for being better capitalists than their Christian brethren. We hate in others what we find most lacking in ourselves.

Nomads

arkThe Jews had many times before been a nomadic people, migrating “out of Egypt” to assume lands that God ostensibly bequeathed to them. This history conveniently (yet ironically) supplied the motivation and belief that God was on the side of all those who supposedly followed His way. Essentially this providence was stolen by those with a willingness to ignore the obligation to faith and honor of God’s law that came with it.

The Ark of the Covenant originally represented by Judeo-Christian tradition as a symbol of God’s promise instead became a possession as much as a promise. People embraced this materialistic version of faith because it resolved the guilt over being both rich and favored by God.

Made in God’s image?

For powerful Christians, there was still the issue of painting over the notion that Christianity had diverse origins in terms of race and culture. White Christians painted pictures of Jesus in their own image, and built tremendous cathedrals as signposts of its journey to world domination. Pagan traditions were folded into the faith as recruitment tools and these became (as Christmas did) signs that devotion to the faith was complete.  This cultlike triumphalism burst across the European landscape backed by religious fervor and an increasingly inventive ability to kill in the name of God.

Gustave_dore_crusades_entry_of_the_crusaders_into_constantinopleThis restless, almost unhinged worldview was held at bay by civilizations to the East that could resist its restless and warlike tendencies. Surely the Crusades were an attempt to “take back” the so-called Holy Land, but it never really stuck. That is still the case today. Another religion that shares the Abrahamic storyline simply won’t give in to Western pressures. That would be Islam, whose principle zealots hate both Jews and Christians alike.

Truth be told, no one really knows who was made in God’s image, or what lands and nations were bequeathed to whom. So the fight continues to this day.

Commerce and conquest

Fortunately, as civilizations grew and trade evolved, necessary compromises emerged. But even those promise continue to be broke by those too greedy to realize that sustainability is a foundational value in God’s kingdom.

Instead, the world is still being ruled by a desperate need for extraction based on the early Genesis belief that God ceded all the earth to a chosen people. Of course these folks miss the fact that their ancestors repeatedly engaged in behavior that invoked God’s wrath. So remains that this faulty history is a legacy that makes it convenient to go out and kill in the name of God, then beg forgiveness as if the carnage never happened. After all, that was how it was done in the Bible.

slaveBut even warlike Christians can’t conquer all. Stifled by resistance from the East, the now largely white races of human beings embracing God as their witness looked to expand their Empire in other directions. Africa was close enough, and a known quantity, but somehow it did not capture the imagination of Christians whose search for gold and conquests across the ocean still beckoned.

So the white migration embarked on its trans-Atlantic conquests, murdering and enslaving people as they arrived on the islands of the Caribbean, all along the Gulf of Mexico and up into North America. Cortez and his ilk had no mercy. It was kill and extract resources in the name of Kings and Queens and God.

Second wave

Then warlike whites flowed over through North America and the real conquest of the New World was begun. Once it got rolling and Manifest Destiny was invoked to justify the killing, there was no reason to slow down and consider what was truly going on. It was genocide all over again, and in biblical proportions.

Love your enemies, to death

FlagWaiverWhen it came to world expansion and domination, the whole “love your enemies” aspect of Christian tradition became an inverse equation. “We love our enemies because we bring them the message of God,” was the essential justification for taking over entire nations. Religion became confused with patriotism. Missionaries ran in the company of killers. It was either convert or die. Such is most of human history.

So the true meaning of “love your enemies” was beaten with a religious stick and cast aside out of convenience. It has never gotten completely out of the ditch into which it was self-righteously thrown. But like the Good Samaritan of old, there are Christians now seeking to right these wrongs and bring back the notion of loving our enemies in its full meaning. Likewise, these believers abhor use of indefensible discrimination by race and culture as tools of political manipulation and domination.

Foxy thinkers

The capitalistic Christians are fighting back hard. They treasure their supposed triumphs and value the social and political position it has bestowed upon them. They give it names like American Exceptionalism to justify the seeming victory of capital over loving our neighbors

But God knows better and always has. God does not like the calculated erection of euphemisms any more than the construction of a Golden Calf. These all represent efforts to circumvent the covenant of love and trust that is supposed to ride at the heart of all faith.

Violent defense of racism

It is both fascinating and disturbing to witness the often violent defense of racism as if it were an expression of God’s will. Of course it isn’t, but it reflects a conveniently perverted narrative of faith that embraces racial warfare as a sign of providential progress. Such was the case when a certain class of moneyed Christians tried to justify the use of slavery to prop up the economy of the American South. They even advocated secession from the Union as a tool of protest against their racist, stringently capitalistic worldview. Ultimately this effort failed, and yet their are millions who still abide by its philosophy and fly a Confederate flag as a sign that they have not yet evolved in their thinking.

Media wars

When you throw a dose of class warfare into this mix and enough money to broadcast the message through modern media and even news outlets, it can be hard to hold the line against the emergent brand of capitalistic faith.

Yet God and Christ said the meek shall inherit the earth, so we have that on our side. But it’s hard to watch the social and political carnage that takes place as a result of evil at work in the world. It has always been that way. Psalms and Lamentations have been written about why God allows evil to triumph. Perhaps it’s all one big godly big joke, and the Second Coming is the cosmic punchline.

Lacking that eventuality, we must look to the present for signs that balance can and will return. Of course evolution has an answer. It always does. We know that 99% of all living things that ever existed on the earth are now extinct. And despite the Judeo-Christian belief that God will provide a New Earth, there is biblical justification for thinking God has less of a sense of humor than we like to believe. The metaphor of the Noachian flood alone parallels God’s willingness to wipe out every living thing on earth in order to make things right again.

Noah’s Real Ark

Jan Brueghel the Elder, 1613

“The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out from the earth the human beings that I have created––people together with the animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord.

Who were these people God regretted? Were they the people who according to his word loved their neighbors as themselves? Or were they full of capitalistic fervor and conquering, warlike ways? Were they racists as well, bickering over the color of skin and the nations of origin? These were the evils God abhorred in human beings, for they lead to violence against any or all that they encounter and judge to be inferior.

And what does Noah represent? He represents those that hold out against such capitalistic fervor and the rank behaviors (the love of money is the root of all evil…) that come with it. The real ark of Noah is this commitment to hold out against violence, racism, discrimination and exploitation of others through war, commerce and prejudice. The real Noah recognizes that preserving aspects of God’s creation is paramount to faith.

Evolution and salvation

How interesting that it turns out our capitalistic ways of extraction and unhindered appetites for resources are similarly violent toward the very earth upon which we depend for survival? Indeed, we depend upon the earth even for salvation, yet capitalistic Christians defy laws that protect the environment on grounds that human beings should have the right to exploit the earth’s resources any way they see fit. This is based on the idea that the Genesis-driven notion of a literal “dominion” over the earth excuses all behaviors.

Yet what more potent symbol is there for salvation than protecting the earth, God’s creation? It’s almost as if evolution and God were conspiring to produce the same result as foretold in the story of Noah.

“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence,” the Bible says. “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them with all the earth.”

Notice that God’s massive anger is not about sex, or gay marriage or Mexicans working jobs that other Americans won’t take. God is angry about violence, especially capitalistic (exploitative) violence based on the unhinged belief that God bequeaths all the earth to a single race of people.

Sickness of mind

Donald Trump's proposed golf courseIt’s a sickness of mind that ignores the lessons of both evolution and God. Yet here we are, with news outlets and political parties proving every day that the real lessons of Sodom and Gomorrah were never learned. Those violent men at the door of Lot were not there for sex, but for violent, aggressive purposes of dominance and exploitation. That is why God destroyed those cities as well. The aggression and assumptive behaviors of people who thought strangers were their property to abuse was the real tipping point for God.

Those same people stand at the doors of society today, threatening and cajoling innocent citizens with their demands for wealth and power. They beg for our votes and hate the very government to which they get elected. They are conflicted, angry and violent men (and women in some cases) willing to take a nation to war as a means to further exploit the world and its resources.

And are you really going to believe what these types of people have to say when God clearly hates the violence and greed of their ways? One should hope not.

The Advent of Meta Christianity

IMG_8609META referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre; self-referential.

Somewhere in the long arc of its transformation from a religious belief system to a political movement, Christianity lost a big chunk of its soul to a social phenomenon more concerned with owning the public dialogue over proving its theological merits in actual practice.

This was the advent of Meta Christianity, in which confessional language and dog-whistle politics contrive to take over society. 

Big Dogs

It’s not hard to point out the cast of characters that borrowed the authority of a well-respected religion as a means to self-empowerment. They are all famous names with whom we are all familiar. The process was slow at first, with social and religious conservatives frustrated by democratic rulings on issues such as abortion. But then the movement toward a more political form of Christianity formed around the likes of Jerry Falwell, a televangelist who formed the so-called Moral Majority in collusion with equally conservative politicians that found it quite convenient to borrow the authority of Christianity for their personal objectives of getting elected. Again. And again.

Voting blocs

Courting the so-called Christian voting blog translated into power for conservatives willing to say all the right things to convince conservative voters their morals were in the right place. The power conferred by the Christian voting bloc further converted the forrmely faith-based ideals of Christianity into a brand focused on social and political authority. The word Christian came to mean something entirely different than it once did, taking on a form that willingly confused God with Country. To achieve this aim the new form of old-time Christianity needed to ignore the very plain language in the United States Constitution Establishment Clause which says  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion….”

And that was the advent of Meta Christianity. No longer was conservative Christianity going to bother abiding by its tradition of self-examinative remorse, repentance and reformation.Meta Christianity said the hell with that. The former introspective faith in the model of Christ would now be replaced by a self-referential new order focused on never admitting you’re wrong and asking people to join along because it’s the right thing to do. The Meta Christian takes a new vow: “We’re more interested in gaining power and getting our way than explaining ourselves to people who don’t get what we’re doing.”

Conventions

By these methods Meta Christians began by definition to refer to itself and its conventions as a genre outside the realm of normal social criticism. Using the age-old methods of requiring “proof texts” from the Bible to engage in any criticism of its objectives, Meta Christianity has endeavored to remove itself from any form of social criticism at all. It does the same with its politics, especially by claiming loudly and often that America was founded as a Christian nation. 

Manifestos

These tactics extend to the view of America both as a nation of destiny and as a tool for the End Times. Fundamental Christians love to claim the mantle of God’s Chosen people. The thin veil of the former worldview known as Manifest Destiny is thus torn away and worn all over again like a new garment. The Meta version of its racial overtones embrace age-old prejudicial values against people of color and origin, lambasting emigrants and Muslims and anyone that Meta Christians choose to see as an enemy. This is all based on the Meta-Christian’s perceived state of privilege by providence. 

End Times

Meanwhile some Meta Christians seem eager to hurry along the end of time any way they can. When George W. Bush first attacked Iraq in 2003, there was some hope in some deeply religious (but apparently not patriotic) quarters that a magical key was being turned in the Mideast that would bring on Armageddon and drag Christ back to earth for Judgment Day.

Even analysis from within the Christian faith has no effect on Meta Christians. Progressive Biblical scholars such as Marcus Borg, John Crossan and Rev.John Shelby Spong easily point out the contradictions inherent in Meta Fundamental Christianity by documenting the many ways in which the Bible is not infallibly composed. Bart D. Ehrman in his book Misquoting Jesus (Harper/San Francisco) documents how scribes who copied scripture sometimes changed it either intentionally or unintentionally. In so doing he points out the foibles of taking any section of scripture literally, and demonstrates the danger of those foibles at play in the modern context. Typically these include persecution of those who are made targets by literal interpretations of scripture. These include women, gays, Jews, blacks or anyone that gets casually or pointedly mentioned in the Bible as a transgressor of some sort. There is no distinctive virtue in these methods except that it provides a convenient way to define “the other” and thus give Meta Christianity the enemies it needs to rally troops to membership and shared power. 

Science of denial

But Meta Christianity turns a purposely deaf ear on such erudite analysis of its beliefs. It also lovingly ignores the findings of science, flirting happily instead with the science of denial constituted by contrived theories such as creationism and intelligent design. As a result, some 30% of Meta Christians in America claim not to trust science, especially the theory of evolution. That’s one out of two people under the influence of Meta Christianity, which uses its reputation as protectors of the truth to fuel doubts and fears of intellectual pursuits in its constituents.

Rightward ho!

Thus the advent of self-referential and self-evidencing religion of power over biblical substance continues to evolve. When challenged over this assumed position of authority in society, Meta Christianity has simply moved farther to the Right as a means to insulate itself from any brand of secular analysis. Of course Meta Christian politicians love that kind of voter. It saves them lots of work trying to convince people they are indeed “voting their values.”

Dead Ends

There’s just one problem with all this Meta Christianity. It’s a literal and physical dead end when it comes to addressing the problems of the present and future. The Meta Christian relationship with End Times theology is problem enough when considering what to do about foreign relations and plans for dealing with global climate change. Meta Christians are prone to the disturbing claim that the end is coming soon and there’s nothing we can do about it anyway. No wonder Meta Christians fall in line with the radical political right on the idea that government is the problem, not a solution to human problems or needs. If the most radical brands of Meta Christians had their way, America would simply dump its entire governmental system and trust God to solve all problems in the home of the brave and the land of the free.

F the Establishment Clause

That’s definitely not what the Founding Fathers set out to do in forming a more perfect union or writing the United States Constitution. The Establishment Clause exists for a reason. It protects the freedoms of all citizens, not just those who claim to curry favor with God. Meta Christianity sees that as an obstacle, not the law of the land. We will be wise to keep an eye on protecting the Constitution from those who would redefine its purpose in a self-referential way.

Misquoting Jesus: http://www.amazon.com/Misquoting-Jesus-Story-Behind-Changed/dp/0060859512, Bart D. Ehrman, Harper San Francisco,