Tuesday, November 25, 2008


This little boy is a gleaming example of how Christlike and pure children can be. This one sets an example of how adults should behave. Baptised or not, this child is closer to God in his actions than most Christians.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Aggressive, Disruptive and Apocalyptic

Thomas Talbott, in his book The Inescapable Love of God, (which I highly recommend) eloquently touches upon points which I have underlined in the book and cannot help but pass on:

Had it not been for the obsessive fear of heresy, grounded in the traditional understanding of hell, most of the atrocities committed in the name of Christian religion would never have occurred.

Philosopher Bertrand Russell, who wrote a tract called "Why I Am Not A Christian" cites the history of persecution within the Christian Church as one of his main reaons for rejecting the Christian faith.

However, there is a distinction between the Christian faith, on the one hand, and the organized Christian church, on the other. The latter is an enemy of the former.

The established Christian religion (specifically Catholicism) is more concerned about self-preservation and its power than with anything else. Even the messages of love and tolerance Christ taught us.

The Christian faith has inspired much of the moral progress "the Christian religion, as organized in its churches," has opposed so vigorously.

Bertrand Russell expands on his indictment of Christianity as follows:

"You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world."

The early church fathers were pacificsts; they saw themselves as suffering servants. They acknowlegded the obligation to speak the truth in love, but would never have wielded a sword in an effort to make Christian converts. Between the time at which Christians were almost universally pacifists and the time at which those who called themselves "Christians" began persecuting pagans and heretics, the organized Christian church lost its prophetic vision; having twisted the Christian gospel into a message of fear, one that the early suffering servants would not have even recognized. The life of the early Christian "felt" more like the pacifistic lifestyle of the Buddhist monks of today.

Below is a recent example of the Church's attempt to halt moral progress under the childish, ridiculous, and adversarial use of "absolutes" mentioned in prior articles (just as they feel the educated have sown dissent within the church).
Like Voltaire said, "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities."


Vatican cardinal calls Obama 'apocalyptic'
Posted by Michael Paulson November 17, 2008 11:37 AM - Boston.com

In yet another manifestation of the unhappiness with the Obama election within the Catholic hierarchy, a high-ranking American cardinal at the Vatican last week called the president-elect "aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic." The comments were made in a speech at the Catholic University of America by Cardinal James F. Stafford, the former archbishop of Denver and now Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary in Vatican City. An excerpt from the story in the Tower, which is the student newspaper at Catholic University: His Eminence James Francis Cardinal Stafford criticized President-elect Barack Obama as 'aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic,' and said he campaigned on an 'extremist anti-life platform,' Thursday night in Keane Auditorium during his lecture 'Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II: Being True in Body and Soul.' 'Because man is a sacred element of secular life,' Stafford remarked, 'man should not be held to a supreme power of state, and a person’s life cannot ultimately be controlled by government'...'For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden,' Stafford said, comparing America’s future with Obama as president to Jesus’ agony in the garden. 'On November 4, 2008, America suffered a cultural earthquake.' Cardinal Stafford said Catholics must deal with the 'hot, angry tears of betrayal' by beginning a new sentiment where one is 'with Jesus, sick because of love'.'' The remarks are occasioning some chatter in St. Blog's Parish. Over at Pontifications, David Gibson says, "I bet that wasn't the tenor of Obama's chat with the Pope the other day. Then again, lieutenants are there to do the dirty work so the white cassock stays clean.'' At Whispers in the Loggia, Rocco Palmo called the speech "an ominous impression of the state of things.'' At the Daily Dish, Andrew Sullivan opines, "the notion that the recent election of Obama is a sign of the Apocalypse has, until now, been restricted to Protestant loonies." And at American Papist, Thomas Peters takes a slightly more sober view, saying only, "Cardinal Stafford made some noise on the CUA campus last week.''

Monday, November 17, 2008

I Think, Therefore I Question the Church

Ignorance is bliss? Those who increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow?

Oh, someone finally says it - and it turns out the Church is the one to say that it is, in fact, the opiate of the uneducated masses.

A weak strike against the educated, the Church HATES when people become enlightened through learning and then question the Church, which obviously has no answers to their questions to satisfy the educated mind. Back in the day, the monks were educated in order to teach the ignorant. Now, the ignorant are few and the congregations are dwindling.

The words Original Sin keep getting tossed around in this article. The theologically educated know that this concept was created by Saint Augustine of Hippo. Another tool of fear and guilt.

Yes, I know Ezekiel 18:20 proves the doctrine of total hereditary depravity (inherited original sin) contradicts the Bible, but you cannot understand the Bible anyway, only the priest can correctly interpret it, right?

Yes, I know that Matthew 18:2-3 teaches that children are better models of purity and conduct than adults, but the Pope teaches that infants are wicked defiled sinners condemned to hell until a Catholic priest baptizes them and removes the curse of original sin. Because infants are lustful, wrathful, slothful, gluttonous, vain, envious and proud beings. Whatever. They are the purest of the pure.

Hedonism? Egocentric behavior? I'd tend to think these terms are being confused with Searching, Seeking, Questioning, THINKING.

And who is this Bishop that is blanket-statement lumping most educated people into heretical bin? Is that not considered judging? Notice in this article that "the Church" is the one being "wronged"...and it says nothing about the educated NOT following the teachings of Christ. It mentions nothing of spirituality and acting as Jesus taught us. It's just The Church that is being "wronged" here. Once again the Church and Christ are two separate entities, which fall further apart with statements like the ones below. The educated see this. That's why the educated are leaving en masse.

The papacy-maffioso thrives on the ignorant. Why don't they come out and say that getting an education is a bad thing. They would be the only institution in the world to be so blatantly desperate in their attempts at thought-control.

Educated Catholics have sown dissent and confusion in the Church, claims bishop

University-educated Catholics are to blame for the crisis in the Church and the growth of secularism, according to the bishop charged with tackling the decline in Mass attendance.

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent - Telegraph.co.ukLast Updated: 9:27AM GMT 16 Nov 2008

The Rt Rev Patrick O'Donoghue, the Bishop of Lancaster, has claimed that graduates are spreading scepticism and sowing dissent. Instead of following the Church's teaching they are "hedonistic", "selfish" and "egocentric", he said. In particular, the bishop complained that influential Catholics in politics and the media were undermining the Church. While not naming names, he suggested that such people had been compromised by their education, which he said had a "dark side, due to original sin". Prominent Catholics in public life include Mark Thompson, the BBC's director general, and Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister. Bishop O'Donoghue, who has recently published a report on how to renew Catholicism in Britain, argued that mass education has led to "sickness in the Church and wider society". "What we have witnessed in Western societies since the end of the Second World War is the development of mass education on a scale unprecedented in human history - resulting in economic growth, scientific and technological advances, and the cultural and social enrichment of billions of people's lives," he said. "However, every human endeavor has a dark side, due to original sin and concupiscence. In the case of education, we can see its distortion through the widespread dissemination of radical scepticism, positivism, utilitarianism and relativism. "Taken together, these intellectual trends have resulted in a fragmented society that marginalizes God, with many people mistakenly thinking they can live happy and productive lives without him. "It shouldn't surprise us that the shadows cast by the distortion of education, and corresponding societal changes, have also touched members of the Church. As Pope Benedict XVI puts it, even in the Church we find hedonism, selfishness and egocentric behavior." The bishop said that Catholic graduates had rejected the reforms made in the second council of the Vatican, which introduced fundamental changes in issues such as liturgy and doctrine. "The Second Vatican Council tends to be misinterpreted most by Catholics who have had a university education -- that is, by those most exposed to the intellectual and moral spirit of the age," he said. "These well-educated Catholics have gone on to occupy influential positions in education, the media, politics, and even the Church, where they have been able to spread their so-called loyal dissent, causing confusion and discord in the whole church." Mr Thompson, who went to Oxford University, has this month been embroiled in a row over broadcasting standards in the wake of the scandal over offensive telephone messages left by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand. Under his command the BBC broadcast Jerry Springer The Opera, considered blasphemous by many Christians, and was forced to pull a cartoon called Popetown set in a fictional Vatican over concerns it would cause offence. Mr Blair, also Oxford-educated, became a Catholic last year but has received Mass for years. As Prime Minister he oversaw the introduction of laws on gay rights and abortion which the Catholic church opposed. The bishop said that influential Catholics had set a bad example and corrupted the faith of those who had not gone to university. "This failure of leadership has exacerbated the even-greater problem of the mass departure from the Church of the working-class and poor," he said. "For example, the relentless diatribe in the popular media against Christianity has undermined the confidence of the ordinary faithful in the Church." Although the influx of immigrants from Catholic countries in Eastern Europe has buoyed Mass attendance in recent years, there has been a significant decline in the number of indigenous, working-class Catholics. Attendance at Mass in 1991 was recorded as 1.3 million, representing a drop of 40 per cent since 1963, but it fell further to 960,000 in 2004. The number of priests in England and Wales has slumped by nearly a quarter in 20 years, from 4,545 in 1985 to 3,643 in 2005. Bishop O'Donoghue has produced a report, Fit for Mission? Church, examining the current problems facing the Church and designed "to enable Catholic men, women and children to resist the pressures to compromise, even abandon, the truths of the Catholic faith". He says that he supports Catholics receiving a university education, but urges they should be "better-equipped to challenge the erroneous thinking of their contemporaries". Nicholas Lash, the former Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University, called the bishop's comments "extremely grave". Writing in this week's Tablet - a respected Catholic journal - Prof Lash says: "If he had named a particular university or universities, or particular individuals, he might well have had a series of libel actions on his hands. "Quite what constructive purpose could possibly be served by such irresponsible and wholesale scapegoating of the educated, I have simply no idea."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong

I wish I could take credit for this...

10 reasons why gay marriage should be illegal
Craigslist - Date: 2005-10-06, 12:53PM PDT

01) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

02) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

03) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

04) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

05) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

06) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

07) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

08) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.

09) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

Re-post this if you believe love makes a marriage.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Buildings and Bridges

Buildings and bridges
are made to bend in the wind
to withstand the world,
that's what it takes
All that steel and stone
is no match for the air, my friend
what doesn't bend breaks
what doesn't bend breaks

Buildings & Bridges – Ani DiFranco

I went to visit my parents a week after the election. My dad and I got into an argument that virtually escalated into a shouting match. My parents are devout Catholics and wanted McCain to win for the simple reason that he would have dissolved Roe v. Wade. But even if McCain had won and followed through with that, it still would have been up to the states to decide their own laws with regards to abortion.

I’ve covered this topic before and have gotten hit-and-run comments from someone who has basically shouted YOU HATE BABIES! YOU HATE LIFE! SINNER! SINNER! SINNER! …and then ran away and could not defend their stance further. And that’s fine. I used to be on the other end of the rope and think that, too. Then I grew up and started using the brain the Good Lord has blessed me with. It has been said: Lower your voice and strengthen your argument. So, everyone quiet down and listen.

This article causes me to roll my ex-Catholic eyes. Bishop Daniel Conlon is quoted as saying "It's a matter of absolutes." I have a big problem with absolutism, which I addressed in a previous entry - http://craftingtheschism.blogspot.com/2007/09/8th-deadly-sin-absolutism.html - You can’t lump all abortion cases into the same basket and declare it 100% outlawed. No one likes abortion. No one is PRO abortion. No one grows up thinking, yeah, I’m really psyched for this abortion! No one is happy about it. But it is necessary for some.

The loudest picketers of this debate are celibate men. That baffles me. Be a woman. Get raped. Get incestuously raped, even. End up pregnant. Then see how you feel about the untruth that was planted in you through violence. See how tough it is to make that decision. You walk a mile in a woman’s shoes that has had to make that decision and suddenly you have a hard time being judge and jury.

To these Catholics the unborn are decidedly more important than those who are already here. I’ve covered this before. Many fighting to outlaw abortion in every single way shape and form are somehow serenely OK with the American occupation and involvement in an unjust war in Iraq where innocent children and babies are obliterated DAILY. Through ignoring and not fighting this issue as hard as they push against abortion, they are imminently advertising that they are at peace with human collateral damage. They just choose to turn a blind eye to that violence, after all, those Iraqis are not Christian, right, so who cares? This seems to be the attitude and if it is not, someone prove me wrong. They’re more absorbed by fighting for potential life than existing lives. These are the same people who think unbaptized babies will be floating around in Limbo (purgatory) separated from God. Yeah, because unbaptized babies who die have SO much sin on their souls to warrant being separated from an all-loving God. Sheesh, gimme a break. Stop your elitist nonsense and look at these situations through the eyes of a loving God, for Christ’s sake!

The separation of Church and State is so necessary… but the cooperation of the religious sectors is also necessary. The Catholic Church is rather adversarial in their attitude and attempts at influencing the upcoming administration. The attitude towards anyone who has had or is considering an abortion is unadulterated venom and vitriol, not compassion and love. Christians are supposed to be all about compassion and love, but their hypocrisy runs rampant and their horns start to show.

Is it surprising that the Church offers no talk or solutions for means and methods to eliminating the situations that would call for abortion in the first place? Their answer is another ridiculous “absolute”: ABSTINENCE. This method obviously DOES NOT WORK: God programmed our bodies to want to have sex. And God’s technical influence trumps this unreasonable request and nature proves this over and over and over again.

Obama has not even taken office yet and these bishops are swarming like bureaucratic vultures. The Church certainly is not approaching the situation with any sort gentleness or grace like Jesus would have done. Then again, I find the actions of the Church to be quite far from the way Jesus would have conducted things.

The one semi-voice of reason in this article is a woman, Sister Jamie Phelps, emphasizes that the voters have to weigh the whole range of issues for the preservation of life. Most Typical Catholics do not. They pick abortion as their main issue; put their blinders on and to hell with everything else. They ignore the big picture and refuse to consider the holistic repercussions of voting based on a single issue out of many that affect human life. This is not the way of the spiritual thinker and I absolutely do not think this is how Jesus would have approached the ballot.


Catholic bishops plan to forcefully confront Obama
By Manya Brachear – Chicago Tribune staff reporter
8:38 PM CST, November 11, 2008 - BALTIMORE

In a direct challenge to President-elect Barack Obama, America's Roman Catholic bishops vowed on Tuesday to accept no compromise for the sake of national unity until there is legal protection for the unborn. About 300 bishops, gathered in Baltimore for their national meeting, adopted a formal blessing for a child in the womb and advised Chicago's Cardinal Francis George, president of the conference, as he began drafting a statement from the bishops to the incoming Obama administration. That document will call on the administration and Catholics who supported Obama to work to outlaw abortion. "This is not a matter of political compromise or a matter of finding some way of common ground," said Bishop Daniel Conlon of Steubenville, Ohio. "It's a matter of absolutes." The bishops, long one of the leading political forces against abortion, spent the first part of Tuesday behind closed doors reportedly debating the merits of "Faithful Citizenship," a nuanced guide for Catholic voters issued last November. Though the document made clear that "the direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life is always wrong and is not just one issue among many," it also advised Catholics to weigh issues like poverty, war, the environment and human rights when choosing candidates. But some bishops said they were surprised to see Catholics cite the document as justification for selecting candidates--like Obama--who support abortion rights. A slim majority of the nation's Catholics voted for the Democratic candidate. Several bishops said that Catholics could not in good conscience vote for a candidate who favored abortion rights after Obama pledged to pass legislation that would overturn state's restrictions on abortion such as late-term abortion bans and requirements of parental consent. "Any one of us here would consider it a privilege to die tomorrow--die tomorrow!--to bring about the end of abortion," said Auxiliary Bishop Robert Hermann of St. Louis. Bishops Thomas Paprocki of Chicago said such legislation could threaten laws that allow health-care workers to refrain from carrying out procedures that violate their conscience, putting Catholic health care institutions in jeopardy. "There are grave consequences," Paprocki said in an interview. "If Catholic hospitals were required by federal law to perform abortions, we'd have to close our hospitals." "I don't think I'm being alarmist," Paprocki told the bishops. George agreed that losing federal funds would put Catholic health care facilities, which make up a third of the nation's hospitals, out of business. Closing Catholic hospitals would put many patients seeking charitable care from those facilities at risk, he added. In crafting the statement to Obama, the bishops urged the cardinal to indicate a desire to work with the administration in areas of economic justice, immigration reform, health care for the poor and religious freedom. But they stressed the church's "intent on opposing evil" and "defense of the unborn child." They vowed to oppose any law or executive order that might loosen restrictions on abortion. They emphasized that efforts to advance abortion rights would "permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans and would be interpreted by many Catholics as an attack on the Church." They also urged Catholics in public life to be committed to the teachings of the church. Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, Pa., vice president-elect Joe Biden's home town, called on his brother bishops to be more punitive against Catholic officials who are "stridently anti-life." "I cannot have the vice president coming to Scranton and saying he learned his values there when those values are utterly against those of the Catholic Church," Martino said. Sister Jamie Phelps, a theologian at Xavier University in Louisiana, also served on Obama's National Catholic Advisory Board. She applauds the bishops for issuing the statement. But she said the Faithful Citizenship document made it clear that while the rights of an unborn child are a priority voters should consider a whole range of issues regarding the preservation and quality of life. "That child has no voice if it's not the voice of the bishops and the voice of Catholics," she said. "But you can not pick and choose an intrinsic evil." George said the Faithful Citizenship document remains the guiding principle for Catholic voters. But he said future versions should be tweaked so portions are not "misused and misinterpreted." He said Catholics seemed to overlook the "whole question of proportionate reason." George has attributed Obama's victory to the economy, insisting that it was not a referendum on moral issues such as abortion rights. The bishops also approved a blessing on Tuesday devoted to a child in the womb, intended to support parents, unite parishes and foster respect for human life within society. "Obviously it's a very tangible way for us to witness pastorally and sacramentally to the life of an unborn child," said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville. "It's very consistent with the priorities we've raised."

Monday, November 10, 2008


Seriously!? YOU ARE KIDDING...

Uh, guys, you're DOING IT WRONG!

Since when did monkly duties include brawling?

So unChrist-like.

Their heads should be all clunked together Three Stooges-style.


Forget lions, Christians fight each other
Monday, 10 November 2008 - Reuters

Greek Orthodox and Armenian worshippers traded blows in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Christian denominations jealously protect their hold over areas of the traditional site of Jesus' crucifixion. Israeli police moved into the shrine, which faithful also believe contains the tomb of Jesus, to restore order and said they arrested two clerics. Dozens of worshippers, dressed in the vestments of the Greek Orthodox and Armenian denominations, traded kicks and punches, knocking down tapestries and toppling decorations at the site in Arab East Jerusalem. The brawl erupted during the Feast of the Cross, a ceremony in which the Armenian community commemorates what it believes was the fourth century discovery of the cross upon which Jesus was crucified. Fights are not uncommon in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre among the representatives of Christian denominations who are responsible for maintaining its different chambers.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Bible is a Launching Pad, Not a Landing Strip

The bible exists to encourage the conversation, not end it. If the bible was written in 21st-century speak, it would certainly be, I think, easier to comprehend, but regardless of that not being the case we still have to view the bible through 21st-century eyes. Eyes that are set before a brain that has been educated in many ways the ancient peoples' brains were not. Critical thinking and weighing theological differences with common sense was probably not exercised in those days, I imagine, nor was it encouraged. That was a "do as I say, not as I do" era. This is a "Well, hang on now, let me think about that a minute" era.

If we're to swallow what the bible gives us at face value, it is asking us to dumb ourselves down. You wouldn't take a VCR programming guide and not think about exactly what you are reading before employing the instructions, would you? And if the writers of the VCR programming guide originally wrote it in Greek and in Hebrew, the translation to English would be rather...innacurately rough.

The bible is the same way. If the bible is a guide for how to live, it also needs to be carefully thought through to be correctly applied and the origins of speech in which it was written also need to be taken in consideration. God chose Greek and Hebrew for the original text on purpose - these languages have specific nuances and meanings. Many of which have been grossly changed during the translation into Latin. Who translated these texts into Latin? Error-filled, politically-influenced humans.

Theologians such as Augustine have raped the message that made its way to the west. The early Christian church was largely universalist. The idea that God as an Omnipotent Love could and would save his creatures which he made (and made susceptible to sin and weakness) was unfortunately weeded out from the Church over the course of years under influence of - what else? - politics. Below is an excerpt from Augustine in response to the early church's universalist leanings, which he absolutely did not like:

"It is quite in vain, then, that some yield to merely human feelings and deplore the notion of the eternal punishment of the damned and their interminable and perpetual misery. They do not believe that such things will be. Not that they would go counter to divine Scripture - but, yielding to their own human feelings, they soften what seems harsh and give a milder emphasis to statements they believe are meant more to terrify than to express literal truth."

--Enchiridion, Ch. XXIX

Here's my thing: One of the many reasons I did not vote for McCain was because of Sarah Palin. Now, people have said "I like her, she's just like one of us". And I must respond with "No, I don't want a VP who is like me. I want a VP who is a Savant and a genius." So, Augustine, as for a God who I will worship and love, I want a God who does not have my humanistic tendencies to lash out and wreak vengeance upon those who wrong me (also, we are programmed by God Himself to commit wrong). I want a God who is SO MUCH BETTER THAN MYSELF, one whose love is all-encompasing and inescapably, wonderfully perfect. A love that I can look to and say to myself "I need to be more like that, I need to be more merciful and good."

Damning someone to hell for eternity seems like something a begrudged southside Irish matriarch would do to her enemy, the neighbor, for accidentally shoveling snow over onto her side of the yard.

So, Augustine, who is yielding to their own human feelings now?

If I am to love and revere a God who is "like me" in the sense that the punishment delved out is so over the top and does not fit the crime (one lifetime cannot warrant an eternity in hell) ...well, I'd rather vote someone else into that office, thank you.

I believe "hell" is a purifying fire with an EXIT. If it were eternal that would mean evil would exist forever and I don't think an all-loving God would allow that. God's justice is a loving justice. His Love and His Justice are one in the same. Any punitive actions are taken for the benefit of the punished, not the human-like pleasure of the Creator.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Yes We Did!

I'm still running on an Obama high. The magnitude of the hopeful change to come has been a blessing not only to the United States, but to the world. I watched on split screens the reactions of people in Australia, in Japan, in Africa - when the announcement came that Barack Obama would be the 44th President of the United States of America. Everyone was rejoicing! This, for me, ranks up there as one of two moments when I was truly PROUD to be an American. (The first was witnessing the abundance of houses, business, highways and peoples donning the American flag following the 9/11 tragedy in a unanimous "United We Stand" moment. I recall seeing someone in the stands of a Cubs game in the weeks following 9/11 with a sign that read: Chicago Loves New York. That made me proud, too.)

The unfortunate situation with Proposition 8 in California is the dim light in this new day, but change starts with change. One day all people will have rights to live as they see fit. The hope of the momentous and historic event we all just witnessed should provide a greater hope to come.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thank You God!

I could hear the shouts from Grant Park three blocks away. From my balcony I could see the spotlights shining over the skyscrapers like the Bat symbol, calling for the hero.

And then it happened. The landslide. And all the world watched and listened.

And I thank God.

Today I am amazed at the few people I know who are disappointed...but am not surprised when they cannot back up any of their arguments with logical thought and research. The educated have spoken.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Importance of Voting

I thank God that I live in a democratic society that allows me to cast my vote. I stood in line this morning waiting to vote for an hour and a half. And I ended up filling out my ballot by holding it against the wall as there were not enough booths. It was a mixed experience: aggravating and exciting at the same time. It is history in the making and as a miniscule part of the collective, I helped write it by casting my ballot.

I know I have posted items on Utah Phillips before, but below is an article I find particularly inspiring. Though it is four years old, it is still applicable, if not more.

God bless & go vote!

P.S. Confession: In an impassioned conversation about how ProLifers cannot be in support of the collateral damage of innocent life resulting from our Iraq occupation, I referred to it as "This goddamned war" and I am sure God understands (and forgives) my absolutely correct assertion (i.e. blaspheme).

A Conversation With (the late) Utah Phillips

October 12, 2004 By Carolyn Crane – The Nation.com

Utah Phillips is a folk singer who tours the United States, delighting audiences with his outlandish stories and challenging them with the ruthless honesty of his insights. A veteran of the US Army who served in Korea, he rode the trains for years after coming home in despair from what he'd witnessed overseas. He met Ammon Hennacy in Utah at the Joe Hill House for Transients and Migrants and discovered anarchy and pacifism.

These tenets have since shaped his life and work. Phillips and I live in the same Northern California town, Nevada City, where he was one of the founders of our thriving Peace Center of Nevada County. It was from the community radio station there that he produced Loafer's Glory, a collection of stories, poems and songs set to the accompaniment of Woody Guthrie-influenced guitarist Mark Ross. And it was to that radio station he went in late September to share with his community an important political decision he'd made, which caused him great difficulty and pain.

You surprised many people who are familiar with your work with your announcement that you were going to register to vote for the first time ever.

This is not easy for me. I'm an anarchist and I've been an anarchist many, many years. The anarchy that I've followed and practiced all of that time came to me through Dorothy Day and the Catholic Workers, through Ammon Hennacy, the great Catholic anarchist and pacifist. Ammond taught me, as he did, to treat his body like a ballot. My body is my ballot. And he said, "Cast that body ballot on behalf of the people around you every day of your life, every day. And don't let anybody ever tell you you haven't voted." You just didn't assign responsibility to other people to do things. You accept responsibility and see to it that something gets done. That's the way he lived and that's the way the past forty, going on fifty, years that I have lived. It's a way to vote without caving in to the civil authority I'm committed to dissolving.

But, we are in a desperate situation here. And it's not just us in the United States. There are people all over the world who are affected by these people who have staged a coup on our government. I can see a shopkeeper in Damascus who's threatened by being bombed out. I can see a schoolgirl who's collaterally killed by the action of these people. There are millions of people in the world who are affected by the actions of this government, and they can't vote in this election. I have no use for Kerry. I have no use for Bush. I don't like either one of them, but these folks can't vote in this election. They have to have people vote for them. And I intend to be one of those. What's the best chance they've got to keep them from being bombed and killed? I don't know. Kerry is an unknown quantity. Bush is a known quantity. A crapshoot, isn't it? But I'm going to stand in for one of these people. And if I'm wrong, I'm wrong by myself.

When you made your announcement, you talked about women who have inspired and influenced your decision. Can you talk a little about that?

I learned a great deal from Judi Barry. I drove and talked with her the day before her car got blown up in Oakland in 1990. She had come around to the idea that direct action and political action are two hands of the same body. I think as an anarchist and when you keep company with other anarchists, as I have in the IWW, the Industrial Workers of the World, and this is my fiftieth year in the IWW, you develop a great antagonism toward the political process, toward statism in any form. However, many of us have come to realize that political action and direct action are two hands of the same body. We have to learn how to work together: the street and the ballot box. In places like Philadelphia or Boston, Massachusetts, when they put freedom in jail, when they put freedom of assembly and freedom of association and freedom of speech in a bullpen with razor wire around it, they put freedom in jail. In the bullpen on Pier 57 in New York, when my daughter [Morrigan Phillips] was jailed for trying to shut down Wall Street in an act of nonviolence civil disobedience.

They're trying to tie that direct-action hand behind our back. If they succeed in that, how long will it be, how long are we going to hang on to the other hand, the political action hand? Every significant social movement in this country--anti-slavery, suffragette, labor movement, peace movement--all started on the street. All of them began on the street. Don't give up the street. The street's where we win. We vote with our feet. That's where it all begins. Made a song about that. Bohdi Busick put a nice tune to it. No, I won't give up the street. But in this instance, at this time, at this place, I think the situation is so dire that yes, I have registered to vote and I am prepared to stand in for one of the victims of the kind of brutality that the people in Washington bring to the world.

You've said that your choice to not vote, to not participate in the system in that way, is one of the most sacred promises you've made. I know what it means to you to make this decision. It's sobering, because I think: Are things really that bad?

Yeah, it is that bad. Now, I am not putting myself forth as an example. I'm not putting myself forth as a role model. Anarchists don't make rules for other people. You make rules for yourself and then people have got to learn how to trust you. And if you blow it you have the courage to change, and you do change and an anarchist is always something you're becoming. I don't need any congratulations for what I'm doing at all. I feel lousy about it. I don't feel good about it all. I'm simply going to do it. And if there are consequences of my act, than I harvest those consequences. That too, is anarchy.