Monthly Archives: July 2009

What he said:

If the word ‘good’ must mean approximately the same thing when we apply it to God as what it means when we apply it to human beings, then the fact of suffering provides a clear empirical refutation of the existence of a being who is both omnipotent and perfectly good. If, on the other hand, we are prepared to give up the idea that ‘good’ in reference to God means anything like what it means when we refer to humans as good, then the problem of evil can be sidestepped, but any hope of a rational defense of the Christian God goes by the boards.

Victor Reppert
as quoted in this book review

A fitting Jackson tribute

With the deluge of Jackson coverage lately, I’m a bit King of Pop’d out. Well, to be honest, even before the coverage began, I could have done without all the obsessive tributes to such a creepy guy.

Though after reading this article, I’m looking at Jackson’s transformative appearance in a different way — I’m actually quite sad for him. The article is entitled “Body Language: Michael Jackson and the Illogic of White Superiority” and here are a few juicy bits:

There is so much meaning and importance in the observation made by scholars who argue that the body is a contested terrain. That is to say, it is on and through the body that our cultural imaginations and social assumptions play out. Michael Jackson’s shifting appearance is a strong example of the texture of that contestation. It is almost as if deeper entrenchment in the popular imagination of the United States (and a growing global community) was physically represented by a shift in his features. He bore on his body the signs of identity politics.

[...] There is certainly something to the manner in which white supremacy shapes and represents through numerous outlets—television, magazines, etc.—the look of beauty, the aesthetic dimensions of worth and value. There is no doubt that Michael Jackson’s life and physical alterations speak to this destructive dimension of our socio-cultural world. As Michael Dyson noted, Michael Jackson displayed on and through his body the love/hate relationship with self-image faced by many African Americans.

[...]Let’s be clear on this: I am not suggesting that white Americans are problematic. Rather, I am arguing that limiting standards of beauty, a restrictive aesthetic of life, or what Cornel West calls the troubling ‘normative gaze,’ damages all of us. That is to say, ‘whiteness’ as a structure of the ‘normal’ is deeply harmful. The displayed assumptions concerning the beautiful and important body are ripped apart, making it difficult to sustain efforts to appreciate difference—to recognize and value the multiplicity of our appearances and the range of our bodies. On Michael Jackson’s body one could catch a glimpse of this battle.

Read the rest of the article here.

Chuck Norris = Pat Robertson on steroids?

Last week, the Freedom from Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit to stop a prominent engraving of “In God We Trust” from being put on the Capitol Visitor’s Center in Washington, DC.

Apparently this makes Chuck Norris angry. And you won’t like Chuck Norris when he’s angry:

How could anyone have anything against the engraving of our nation’s motto, which is above the very speaker’s rostrum in the House of Representatives? How could anyone have anything against the same for the Pledge of Allegiance, which has been recited each day since its inception in both houses of Congress?

Engraving the motto and pledge in the CVC sounds so basic and reasonable, doesn’t it? Apparently not to the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the nation’s largest group of atheists and agnostics, who filed suit in an effort to prevent the engraving of “In God We Trust” and the Pledge of Allegiance within the CVC.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing to prevent these engravings because, it says, that “both the motto and the words ‘under God’ in the pledge were adopted during the Cold War as anti-communism measures. Engraving them at the entrance to the U.S. Capitol would discriminate against those who do not practice religion and unfairly promote a Judeo-Christian perspective.” (I guess that also transforms our currency with “In God We Trust” on them into Christian tracts?) How preposterous!

Sooooo, the truth about the recent history of “in God we trust” motto is preposterous? Maybe Norris should exercise that muscle he has in his head, his brain.

In the space of 2 paragraphs, he got schooled in terms of where the “under God” came into play in our pledge. Those two words weren’t added until 1954, partially in response to distinguish who was a red Commie and who wasn’t (yay, Cold War?). “In God we Trust” wasn’t made our national motto until 1956. And I bet after both phrases were officially enstated, you could hear our secular founding fathers rolling in their graves.

The rest of Norris’s article (read: rant) consists of his lamenting the “whitewashing [of] God from the walls of history [as] an unfair promotion of atheism and an injustice to all that is America.”

My questions is: how is ensuring a secular government equal to an “unfair promotion of atheism?” The FFRF lawsuit isn’t asking to replace “In God we Trust” with the phrase “There is no God.” All the lawsuit is asking is to remove overt religiosity from our houses of government — which, according to the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, our government is not permitted to establish or respect a state-sponsored religion.

Maybe Chuck Norris should review the actual Constitution before he gets all huffy about the rights it ensures. Then again, maybe Chuck Norris should stick to kicking ass and hawking informericals, and leave the nuances of the written word to someone more apt (or at least someone who’s actually taken the time to read the Constitution).


no, we’re not at the creationism museum

From the long-lost pictures from our vacation, earlier this summer.

Making Palin talk good

Vanity Fair’s literary editor grabbed his red pen and tackled the Palin “I quit!” masterpiece:

Funny, the aftermath looks a bit like some of my thesis chapter drafts, post-supervisor — except that this vicious edit-job is far more amusing.

What he said:

The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

The "pro-life" position of the Catholic church

Who said celibate priests are out of touch with reality?

Earlier this year, in response to abortion of the Brazilian 9-year-old little girl (who was raped and impregnated with twins by her stepfather), the Catholic church automatically excommunicated everyone involved.

Recently the church released a follow-up to this particular case, where they cemented the church’s unequivocal stance on the reproductive rights of women. In the L’Osservatore Romano document, the church reasserts the automatic excommunication of anyone involved with an abortion:

“Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life,” reads the statement, which widely cites past Vatican documents.

The article also quotes a church official, who is quick to stand up for church dogma before considering the human needs of any of its members:

“We have laws, we have a discipline, we have a doctrine of the faith,” the official says. “This is not just theory. And you can’t start backpedaling just because the real-life situation carries a certain human weight.”

There you have it — religious dogma trumps real-life humanity.

And, it’s another reason why I’m done with religions and their dogmas. Once you’ve become so blinded by your beliefs that you can no longer recognize the damage they inflict on fellow human beings — that’s a line that cannot be crossed without those of us on the outside putting up one hell of a fight.

For those of you keeping track at home:

  • Help a 9-year-old rid herself of an incestuous (and potentially life-threatening) pregnancy = excommunication
  • A woman who is ordained in the church = excommunication
  • Be child-predator who preys on children entrusted in your supposedly righteous care = protection from all levels of church hierarchy (including legal protection), transfers to new parishes where you can continue the cycle of pedophilia, and NO excommunication — even if you’re a convicted felon.

For every supposed “good” that religion produces, there also lurks a darker counterpoint to be considered.