Thursday, June 27, 2013

Rick Perry, Texas Oppressor-in-Chief

I am utterly amazed at Perry's assertion during a speech to the National Right To Life Convention regarding the protesters who stormed the Texas Senate Building to Protest the Legislation being considered to shut down nearly all the abortion facilities in Texas that "The louder they scream, the more we know we are getting something done.”

 This is the absolute definition of oppression. It's the kind of thing you hear from a Sadist as he inflicts pain on his victims. It's like saying "scream for me baby, let me know that you understand the Master is at home." Smart managers know that when the people protest, they should listen and try to figure out what is is that is causing pain.

Perhaps there is something Perry can learn from the citizens of Texas who are often as smart as he is, as well-educated or even better educated than he is.

This is the voice of a bully. Can Texans be this unaware of the sound of the bully snorting his determination to dominate his victim?

In this case when male Senators n try to legislate women's issues they need to comprehend that women live in a world very different than theirs. Women inhabit a body very different than a man's. Their biological imperatives and responsibilities are so incredibly different a man needs to stop, listen, learn and respect what he's hearing. Otherwise, he is just a sadomasochistic patriarch. Aren't we done with that culture?

Women demographically out-number men, equal their numbers in the workplace and have demanded equality. They deserve equality even if men are threatened by it.

 When Perry attacked Senator Davis because she was a single mother who should know that every life is important in this same speech, he makes an astonishing cognitive leap assuming that she might have wanted to abort her child. The fact is that Wendy Davis had a single mother who CHOSE to have her daughter. The fact is that Wendy Davis herself elected to have her daughter. Not all women may make a similar decision given a huge variety of circumstances that confront them. However, that should be their choice, not something a complete stranger in the Texas Senate decides he knows better than they what they should choose.

Recently, in this economy Republicans from State to State and even in the Congress have done everything except create jobs that might encourage women and their husbands to conclude they can afford children, or that their insurance will cover the sometimes terrifically expensive consequences of their pregnancies. 

Pregnancy is not an easy nine months for many women. Many women have miscarriages: estimates are as many as 500,000 to 1,000,000 miscarriages occur each year. A gynecologist I spoke with recently said that there is a vast and unacknowledged continent of grief among women attempting to have families.

Many women discover they have genetically defective fetuses who may not live after birth or indeed may cause the mother life threatening illness. There is nothing more devastating than discovering the long desired child the family longed to love has died before the pregnancy has been completed or will die shortly after birth.

Into this enormity of feminine grief and risk, Republican men barge with their ignorant determination that they alone know what is best for all women. If Republicans want women to have children they should do everything possible to give them hope that there is an economic future that will enable them to afford the child and give those children the kind of life that will be part of the American Dream. They should be out there creating jobs, building infrastructure, encouraging business, expanding educational opportunities, reducing the need for student loans. Republicans should be creating an economic and cultural environment that tells women and their families that children are an asset to their economic futures, not a detriment.

Draconian measures to coerce women to endure pregnancy will only make child bearing unpleasant, painful and demeaning. Surely Republicans are smart enough to know that oppression is not part of the American Dream. Republicans should do everything possible to encourage woman, honor women and give them the opportunity to feel good about being American mothers. Why is that such a hard idea for them to grasp I wonder?

 Ironically, until they grasp this essential insight, Republican economic obstructionists who devote their legislative efforts to dictating women's reproductive choices are themselves often responsible for women deciding to have abortions or not to have children at all.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Marijuana is not a Gateway Drug

It is about time we debunked this idea that Marijuana is a GATEWAY drug.  This is the War on Drug's favorite talking point when it comes to scaring the bejesus out of people who might want to think about Marijuana in any objective way.  The idea here is that using Marijuana is inevitably going to lead us to use other drugs, harder drugs, addictive drugs, drugs that will ruin your life and the lives of those around you.

To this idea I have to say BULLPUCKY.  This is a much researched idea, one which the War on Drugs has invested a great deal of cash to promote.  In nearly every study I have read on this subject not one has ever looked at how the subjects in the study acquired their drugs.  They just report that subject A used marijuana and then subsequently used Drug B, Drug C, Drug D and so on and on and on.  Ergo, Marijuana was obviously causing the users to progress to harder drugs.

Here's the thing.  How do people acquire an illegal drug?  Because the drug is illegal they are forced to find a criminal pusher who is willing to sell the illegal drug to them.  Now this criminal pusher is a businessman. He is risking a lot to acquire the illegal drugs and make them available to his clients.  He has a variety of products he would like to sell his clients.  Whenever possible, it is in his interest to see if he can interest his clients in some of his other products, especially products that are more expensive and more addictive.  The more addictive products will bring the client back to him more frequently, more eager to purchase and willing to pay higher prices, obviously.

So it is in his interest to sell his clients marijuana that is laced with other products. So he may offer Buddah which is marijuana laced with opium, or Chips which is a joint laced with angel dust or PCP. They also offer Atom Bombs which are joints laced with heroin or Basuco which is a joint laced with cocaine.

Sometimes they won't even tell their clients that the joints they are selling are  . . . well . . . augmented.  Not that we have ever seen anything like that before in American marketing.  No telling what cigarettes were laced with all those years the addiction cartel was at our throats; or for that matter how nearly every food product is now laced with high fructose corn syrup.

If marijuana were sold in grocery stores like tobacco it would certainly be less a gateway drug. Or if there were marijuana boutique shops like those that are now selling medical marijuana all over the West Coast, it would likely be less Gateway-esque.   How one develops access to a product has a lot to do with how it will be used, how it will be imagined and shared.

No less a leading light in illicit drug literature, Timothy Leary, came up with the idea of Set and Setting when thinking about how a drug affects the user.

"Of course the drug does not produce the transcendent experience.  It merely acts as a chemical key--it opens the mind, frees the nervous system of its ordinary patterns and structures. The nature of the experience depends almost entirely on the set and setting.  Set denotes the preparation of the individual including his personality and mood at the time.  Setting is physical--the weather, the room's temperature the social--feelings of persons present towards one another and cultural--prevailing views as to what is real.  It is for this reason that manuals and guide books are necessary. Their purpose is to enable a person to understand the new realities of the expanded consciousness to serve as road maps for the new interior territories which modern science has made accessible."

Now this interest of Leary's in altered states of consciousness is pretty far afield from this discussion.  I am interested here in how the set of ideas surrounding marijuana as an illegal drug changes the user's perception of the drug and how it is to be used, where it is to be used, what the consequences of using it might be, and with whom it should be used.  Compare that to the set of ideas surrounding tobacco as a legal drug: what it is, how it is to be used, where it is to be used, what the consequences of using it might be and with whom it should be used.

Now consider the social setting, the feelings of people with whom one is using the illegal drug and how they think about the illegal drugs in general.  Here is how the experimental regimes used so often in the "Gateway Drug" studies have failed.  I'd be willing to wager that if the marijuana was offered to the user as if it were a legal drug, if the marijuana were used with people who perceive it as a legal drug, it would not be a Gateway Drug at all.

The trouble with all this is that we have made a herb that has been used medicinally for millennia into a Schedule One illegal drug.  We have created a culture of illegality and criminality to surround an herb that has been a mild herbal remedy for literally ages.

Of all the substances on this list of proscribed drugs I find it interesting that three are plants whole and entire: Marijuana (Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica) , Peyote,and  Psilocybin. The rest require significant chemist intervention to produce them.
1) aMT alpha-methyltryptamine
2) BZP benzylpiperazine
3) Cathinone
4) DMT dimethyltryptmine
5) GHB
6) Heroin
7) LSD
8) Marijuana
9) MDMA ecstasy
10) Mescaline
11) Methaqualone
12) Peyote
13) Psilocybin

So what does it say about who we are as a modern Christian culture that we have identified an annual plant, a cactus and a mushroom to be so potent that we have to outlaw them?

Is it perhaps of interest that these plants have been used by indigenous peoples as part of their religious practices, practices which we as Christians have declared to be Pagan, the religious ceremonies of heathens?

Cannabis has a long history across China, India and Europe as a substance used in religious observance. Similarly peyote has long been part of religious use by American Native Peoples for at last 5,000 years.  Psilocybin is a drug metabolized by the human body when it ingests one of over 200 varieties of mushroom of the Psilocybin family of fungi. It has been central to many religions most notably the Aztec religion and has been known to be part of religious observance for over 11,000 years.

Is it possible that in these three plants Christians have identified a tradition they hold to be an anathema and so have declared them to be a threat to the kind of Standard Western mode of consciousness upon which we have built our modern science-based culture?  Is this prohibition therefore based on the need to police the standards of consciousness we believe are "healthy?"

A fourth drug from this list of Schedule One Illegal Substances, DMT, follows this pattern precisely.  DMT is a drug metabolized by the body when it ingests a brew of plants created by the shaman of the Amazon Jungles.  Called ayahuasca; this drink has become the sacrament of the newly recognized religion Uniao do Vegetal. and as a result the UDV has received qn exemption from this Schedule One prohibition to use DMTon the grounds of religious freedom.

It seems to me then that there is a great irony here.  Perhaps all these are Gateway Drugs of another sort.

Historically, many of these drugs were labeled psychedelics, that is to say a playful drug to be used recreationally by the Counter Culture of the '60s.   One of the greatest authors on psychedelics was Terrance McKenna, an ethnobotonist who brought us an enormous wisdom as he studied how these plants were used by native peoples.

The brutal Nixonian drug laws, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control act of 1972, were created primarily as a way to attack the members of the Counter Culture, the Hippies, the Yippies, the feminists, the Black Panthers, the Civil Rights workers all of whom were involved in the extraordinary protests against the VietNam War.

These new laws created the terminology Hallucinogens, which shattered the recreational terminology imposing on it instead a threatening terminology of disease and sickness.  These laws allowed the government to invade the homes and lives of these protesters, charge them with crimes, ruin their lives and lock them away.  These laws were enormously successful in destroying the Counter Culture and to repress the political causes its members were devoted to.  A greater example of how drug laws have been used to oppress people can hardly be imagined.

In the '80s then, Psychiatrists and other health care workers shed that terminology in favor of the term Psychoactives by which they meant drugs that had a significant impact on the neurology of the human mind. This included a larger set of drugs than just those earlier included in the category Hallucinogens.

Now we are ready for a new term, a true Gateway term: Enthogens.  An enthogen is a drug that brings the divine into the life of the user.  These plants, Marijuana, Peyote and Psilocybin have always been used as Gateway drugs, a gateway to spirituality and the perception of the divine in the world around us.  We have created a set and setting to surround these plants to deny them their true Gateway effect.  The time approaches when we will need to embrace this Entheogenic effect, and celebrate the revolution it offers. The time approaches when we will have to recognize that our approach to these drugs is primarily repressive designed to oppress native peoples and their traditions.  When will be come to our senses and realize that we have created this monster and that the War on Drugs is a war upon ourselves?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Thinking about Paul

So I have a young friend who is quite a biblical scholar and who is extraordinarily fond of St. Paul.  About this he and I disagree, rather profoundly.

The oldest writings in the New Testament, excepting perhaps the Book of James (who was the brother of Jesus), the letters of Paul are perhaps the first gospel.  Some scholars believe that these letters were actually published and were written in highly polished Greek because they were intended for publication.  The lack of this polish is how scholars distinguish between the authentic letters of Paul and the so called Pseudoepigrapha, the letters written by others and said to be written by Paul.  These letters were written by Paul to the groups of Christians he had mentored across the Roman Empire.

Now my problem with Paul is pretty simple really.
1) Paul never met Jesus.
2) Paul never studied with Jesus.
3) Paul was not at the last supper.
4) Paul was not at the Pentecost
5) Paul never studied with James or Peter or any of the other Apostles, so far as we know.
6) Paul was in fact one of the chief persecutors of Christians during the early days of the Jerusalem church.
7) The so called vision on the road to Damascus is IMHO nothing less than an authorization tale, designed to provide for Paul the mantle of Apostle by someone putatively identified as the same author of the Gospel of Luke.  Truth to tell we do not know who wrote the Gospel of Luke, so we don't know who wrote Acts either for that matter.  The text of Acts was written approximately about AD 66-67 in memory of the recently deceased Paul.  This story exists nowhere else, there is no double attestation which would prove that it is more than an invention of the author of Acts.
8) Paul was in fact a Roman.
9) Paul was trained as a Pharisee, the very group who were the butt of many of the Parables of Jesus.
10) Paul's letters attack ministers who come among those Christians he had mentored teaching a message divergent from his own.  Scholars think these ministers teaching a divergent message had been sent from the Jerusalem Church founded by the Apostles who had actually studied with Jesus.

So, one has to ask then, just where do these teachings in Paul's letters come from?  They can't possibly represent the teachings of the Jerusalem Church which were in the direct line of Christ's own.

Paul's teachings survive mainly because he was dead when the Jerusalem Church was destroyed and his followers were spread among the diaspora Jewish community when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70.  In addition, those who created the text of the anthology we call the New Testament were followers of Paul.

I contend that if we are really going to know what Jesus the  Christ taught, we have to discard Paul.  The teachings of Paul have so eclipsed the teachings of the Jerusalem Church, his followers have worked tirelessly to suppress the teachings of the Jerusalem Church, so that if we are to see what Christ taught we have to look beyond Paul back to the beginnings of the Church.

We might begin with Phyllis Tickle's book, The Words of Jesus: A Gospel of the Sayings of Our Lord with Reflections.

One of the Reviewers of this book writes: "We've heard them from the pulpit, scanned the red-letter words in our Bibles and quoted them in scripture memorization. But when we listen --- really listen --- to the words of Jesus, they may change us irrevocably. So says renowned religion writer Phyllis Tickle in THE WORDS OF JESUS, which offers a new way of looking and listening to familiar passages.

The book began with a simple question from a colleague who asked Tickle, "Did you ever wonder what you would really find if you took out the duplications and triplications and connective tissue of the Gospels and stripped it all down again to just His words?" The question stunned her, and she admits, "I had never wondered such a thing...I was also fascinated by the potency of the Sayings format and drawn to the intellectual game and pleasure of trying to tease out just how and why that format works so well."

The "Sayings" format is indeed unique. All of the words of Jesus from the four gospels and the first chapter of Acts are compiled and arranged into five different "books" and then organized by topic. In each book, Jesus' personality is "shaded and shaped by the particularity of either his audience --- public, private, or intimate --- or an activity --- healing." Rather than relying on a particular translation, Tickle brings her own scholarship and the texts of several translations to bear to recreate Jesus' words.

Tickle suggests that the reader begin with Book Two, Christ's words of private instruction to His followers. Here, He is "most self-revelatory and open to us." Bits and pieces of Jesus' words reach out and pull the reader in. "Be careful that you do not look down on one who seems small or unimportant and trivial...," Jesus says in one passage. In another, "Sit down in the humblest place." And, "Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour." Each saying in each "book" is grouped under a topical header.

Tickle divides the other four books of Jesus' Sayings into The Words of Public Teaching, The Words of Healing Dialogue, The Words of Intimate Conversation and The Words of Post-Resurrection Encounters. The 21 Sayings under "healing" are interesting, Tickle points out, as most of them have little or nothing to do with the healing itself: "Rather, they read now as if much of the time the act of healing becomes a platform for teaching health of more than just the body." Good food for thought.

One of Tickle's passages that resonates particularly well is the idea that the brain and the heart are both organs of perceiving and being. "We must assume that there is in the human being a means of knowing other than that of the brain." Her surprise, she said, was that the Sayings of Jesus "entered prayerfully" are first heard somewhere other than the mind. "The heart, it would seem, has its own consciousness and knowledge and ways that can be experienced just as the brain's consciousness and knowledge and ways are experienced. They are just not as scientifically measurable at the moment, and may never be."

Tickle, who has worked with other sacred writings before (The Divine Hours series), has a delightful blend of humbleness and confidence in her reflections on the Sayings. As she began compiling the "words" of Jesus through the past two years, Tickle said she wrestled with new perceptions about what it is to be a Christian, as well as to be herself.

So reader be warned. If, as Tickle says, "It is the correct and proper business of followers to try to discern the meaning of God's words," then THE WORDS OF JESUS is a good place to be about our business. But readers will encounter the sayings of Jesus through this book in new ways --- and may come away changed."

--- Reviewed by Cindy Crosby

Saturday, February 16, 2013


I am beginning to grow very tired of the arguments my Evangelical neighbors are making in their efforts to overturn Roe V Wade.  Now it must be very clear to anyone who listens to the blather of these good people that they imagine America to be a theocracy where biblical logic takes precedence over every other kind of logic we believe to be the basis of our Democracy.

Let us begin at the beginning of their logic.  First, they begin with the idea that the Bible is the Word of God, literally correct and inerrant.   This blather like their other blather is anchored in grotesque misunderstanding. First, this book they call the Bible (Latin for book) is an anthology of many texts written by a variety of hands, most of which belong to individuals without names, other than  those given them for convenience by the editors of the volume in the 4th century.  A good many of the letters of Paul, for instance, we know were not written by him. These pseudo-epigrapha are, to put it bluntly, forgeries accepted into the anthology by the sheer ignorance of the 4th century editors.

Secondly, the texts of this anthology were "massaged" (that is to say rewritten somewhat) by their editors during the amazing debates over the proposition of an influential priest named Arius, who asserted that The Son of God was a subordinate deity to God the Father. Their rewriting of scripture allowed them to defeat Arius and send us on our way into the amazing dogma of the Trinity, which virtually no Christian understands to this day. Mysteries are that way, it is explained to the trusting faithful.

This little trick of rewriting sacred text to win arguments is still being practiced by the anti-abortion editors in our own day.  So much for the idea of inerrancy.  But then there are so much evidence that demolishes this sacred cow of the evangelicals that they have (as a young graduate of the Truett seminary put it to me recently during a professional conference) created their own brand of "Yawbut" theology. To every exception to this inerrancy assertion a student might come up with his professors were always ready with a "Yes but" [or in the dialect of Texas, "Yawbut"] theological response.

Thirdly, the reason the Bible was created in the first place--the reason that editors sorted through all the many other Gospels held by ordinary Christians to be sacred text in the preceding 300 years--was that Constantine had begun to build for his new God Franchise [Christianity] massive new churches, and the priestly managers of these grand spaces needed something to read in the new system of public worship [liturgy] he was devising.  Of course, it is likely all Gospels and sacred texts were written for public reading in the early house churches which had sprung up across the Roman Empire of the first, second and third centuries.

But when the new God franchise was created by Constantine he had to--in the tradition of every good empire--standardize the text. Standardization is after all the hallmark of a good empire, weights and measures being the first Standard to be put in place.  So what was sacred and what was not sacred, what was acceptable and what was not, had to pass muster of Constantine's appointed editors and compilers.  This bible-is-the-Living-word-of-God meme is nothing more than an authorization trope designed to empower the clergy of the new God franchise. And thus we invented the Canon and cast into the outer darkness all competing texts making every effort to obliterate them and all who clung to them.

So since America is not a theocracy run by empowered Clergy, we can dispense with these Bible based arguments.  They convince no one but evangelicals of the inerrancy tribe.  What then can we agree on?
I suppose it is fair for us to agree that biological life begins when the sperm hits the ova.  It is equally fair to think that this biological life is human.  It is equally fair to think that this human life should be accorded respect once it achieves viability which medical science is pushing back further and further into the weeks after fertilization. Currently, most agree that viability occurs at seven months or 28 weeks.  Up until then Roe V Wade permits the mother to terminate the pregnancy if she chooses. Viability has occurred at 21 weeks, but the chances of survival are very challenged at 21.

So what is the status of the fetus prior to 21-28 weeks?  Our bibliocists demand that we give the conceptus all the legal rights of a Citizen from the moment of conception.  They are working over time to conceal their biblical imperatives so they will have weight in a court of law, where these decisions will be made.  Currently, the best of their arguments resides in the Potentiality argument that argues that since the embryo is potentially a Citizen it should have all the rights of a Citizen. "Best" does not necessarily mean convincing, I hasten to say.

The problem with all these arguments, of course, is that our ancestors who wrote the books of the bible were dyed-in-the-wool misogynists.  In the days of our Bedouin Hebrew ancestors, women were property with few rights.  This misogyny persists for nearly two millennial so that it has only been in the last century when women threw off the shackles of patriarchy and demanded an equal share of respect, legal rights and liberty such as Citizens have the right to expect.  So our evangelical friends argue from texts that deny the importance of woman from the outset.  These arguments are irrelevant in modern context where women have long been accorded equal rights.  Even as we speak, however, many legislators drawn from the evangelical camp struggle to strip women of these hard won rights and long to return them to the status of chattel property.  Such is the intent and purpose of these Personhood arguments, in my opinion.

Surprisingly, we have learned more about gestation since Roe V Wade than we knew in the preceding 7,000 years.  It is nearly miraculous how much we now know about the process of gestation and in particular embryogenesis. Not withstanding this avalanche of new technical information, our evangelical friends retroject this information back into our early history assuming the authors of books like the proverbs knew what fertilization was.  One notable authority on personhood even demanded that we interpret the line in Proverbs that says "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you" meant that God knew us at the point of fertilization.

Now fertilization is a microscopic event and we had no microscopes until 1590. It is impossible for these ancients to have imagined such a process.  Secondly we did not know that a woman even had an ova until 1827.  So the idea that the ancients could have imagined that God knew us when sperm and ova collided is patiently absurd. It is the very epitome of the logical error retrojection. But then if you don't believe in Critical Thinking as evangelicals mostly do not often militantly so, they could hardly protect their logic from such fallacies.

So if we begin with the idea that all women--poor, middle class and wealthy--are Citizens fully equal to men who have the right to control their own bodies, we cannot begin to accept that the State has any right to curtail their rights to control the most intimate process of her anatomy.  The ludicrous demands of our evangelical friends to demand the state reach out and seize control of a woman's uterus and its inhabitants flies directly in the face of the conservative  quest for smaller and less intrusive government possessed of fewer regulations.

This kind of governmental regulation always fails, witness the effects of such regulation in the matters of access to alcohol, marijuana, all schedule one drugs, immigration and even voting rights.

And truth to tell, they are not mounting an argument aimed at the upper classes.  Their arguments and legislation are aimed directly at poor women as witness their attack on Planned Parenthood which has been a major source of health care for poor women.

It should be obvious to any reasonable individual that what we have here is nothing less than an effort to deny women equality under the law.  Men want to return to a day when women did not compete with them in the Job Market, could not control their own money, and control their fertility.  They would like to dismantle the divorce laws, and Title IX which gives women equal access to the sports fields and programs.  They dislike women serving in the military let alone in combat. And so on and on in their not so subtle misogamy.

Those of us who really love women, and respect them to the degree that we want our wives and daughters to be equal before the law in every way a man is should be very alert to the real thrust of this personhood argument.  It is nothing less than misogyny concealed.

If these good Christian folk really loved the fetus as they say they do, wouldn't they:

1) Provide sex education of a real and meaningful sort so both women and men know how their reproductive organs work, how STDs are contracted, and how they should think about their health when they are trying to bring a child into the world?

2) Provide prenatal care to poor women who can't afford it?

3) Provide legal protection for women who have been raped and to treat rape as the heinous crime it is in ALL cases.

4) Defend a woman's constitutional rights to control her own body as vigorously as they defend their second amendment rights.

5) Provide health care to poor women so they can receive adequate care during difficult deliveries of their infants.

6) Provide health care to poor women in the difficult months after a birth so their children might not become a statistic on the mortality roles of infant death.

7) Provide preschoolers with Head Start funding so they will be ready for school

8) Provide children with a good education so poor women have some hope that their children really do have access to the American Dream.

9) Stop incarcerating the husbands and men folk of poor women through draconian drug laws and mandatory sentencing which have resulted in the highest incarceration rate of any industrialized  nation. Raising children requires a father in the home just as much as a mother.

10) Stop the massive legislative efforts both in State legislatures and Congress during the last four years to restrict a woman's ability to control her own body and the attendant media which demeans poor women as welfare queens and murders of unborn children.

11) Work to improve job prospects for the poor and middle classes. The conservative blockage of all of Obama's efforts to create jobs especially through much needed rebuilding of our infrastructure has ironically been the motivation of many families to curtail building their families through all methods of contraception and early term abortion.

12) Work to make marriage a viable institution for all segments of society.  Currently half  of all infants are born out of wedlock, and half of all marriages end in divorce.

How are we to encourage pregnant poor women to want to take their pregnancies to term if we continually leave them bereft of hope that there will be equality of opportunity for themselves and their children.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Fetus Fetish

Fetus, fetus, fetus, who love this fetus anyway?  I begin to be really irritated by the fetish certain sectors of the political spectrum have for this entity called the fetus.  I have even begun to suspect that this fetish has nothing at all to do with fetal life and everything to do with controlling the reproductive life of women.  I have even begun to suspect that all this legislative hand wringing over these little precious tongues of flesh don't love the poor, don't love poor women, I even suspect they don't love women at all.  I am almost positive that these male legislators have no love for pregnant women of any stripe.  I know for sure they do not love fetuses at all. 

 If we really wanted to protect the fetus wouldn't we want to ensure that the mother entity was delighted to be pregnant?  Wouldn't we want to be sure that the mother entity was well informed about what pregnancy meant, how pregnancy happened, how she could stay pregnant and how she could deliver a healthy infant?  Wouldn't we want to give that mother entity the feeling that we respected her, loved her and encouraged her to be the best mother she could be?

Yet what do we do? Nothing of the sort. 

We humiliate them, embarrass them and go out of our way to wage war on their demographic.   

We threaten to poke an unltrasound wand up their koochies, a required procedure which the state also requires they pay for.  

We humiliate them by allowing pharmacists to deny women access to contraceptives if the pharmacist claims such a sale would offend his religious views: not withstanding that women use contraceptives for far more than just preventing pregnancies.  

Their most private and intimate biological process are suddenly the stuff of debate and argument by men who obviously have not even the most minimal understanding of how the lady parts work.  

Supposedly educated and supposedly happily married men energetically propose an entire taxonomy of rape including illegitimate rape and legitimate rape, as if it weren't a horrific crime but a kind of inter-mural sport they long to be spectators of.

Then the House of Representatives refuses to pass the Violence against Women Act, as why would they when they seemingly enjoy discussing rape, imagining rape and its consequences.

Then 30 States have laws on the books that allow rapists to have parental rights for the child of their forcible rape.   I can tell you that if a rapist were to show up on my door wanting to have his parental rights with my grandchild he forced my daughter to have in a violent and ruthless sexual attack, there would be one very dead former rapist "burglar" in my house.  Or there would finally be a good use for "Stand Your Ground" Laws.

And then there is the State of Utah which reached into the bottom of the humiliation barrel and recently criminalized miscarriage. Not abortion mind you, they criminalized that event that most women are completely devastated by.  Way to go Mormons!

So it is pretty clear to me, that these fetus fetishists are liars, hypocrites and knownothing spiritual raopists.  They don't care about women, they don't care about fetuses, and the particularly don't want to honor women in that most challenging moment in their life when they accept responsibility for another life growing under their growing breasts.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Wobble God Hypothesis--a personal caveat to How Not to Talk of God

One thing I do not understand about such discussions as these—and it is probably such a silly question that it does not deserve an answer—is why are we so focused on the generic God. Used to be that the God had a name: Kali, Shiva, Dionysius, Apollo, Zeus, Hera, Isis, Orisis, Set, Amon Ra, Thor, Loki, and so on and on. In the history of ideas there must have come a time when this generic God rose up and replaced these others.

I have three thoughts about this: One is that we forgot the name of God—supposedly—so we have to call him by the Generic. Two is that the name of God is so sacred that we dare not use the name, if we knew it.

I have heard, however, of a third explanation. That is that all these named Gods were associated with stellar phenomena so that constellations were named for them and so forth. These constellations and the dominance of the God associated with each of them shifted about once each 2,000 years. So we had an age dominated by the Apis sacred bull God associated with the constellation Taurus, an age dominated by the Ram God Osirus associated with Aries, an age dominated by the constellation Pisces which accounts for the fish imagery in Christianity, which has just come to an end to be replaced with the so called "Age of Aquarius."

When it was realized that there was a grand precession of the constellations ancient astronomers realized that this implied the existence of a super God who ruled over the others and placed them among the stars. Some think that the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep IV in response to this insight overthrew Egypt’s ancient religion and created the solar religion of the Aten and created a whole new capital on the west bank of the Nile called Armarna to be the center for this new religion and renamed himself Akhenaten. From this new monotheistic religion many believe the Abrahamic religions rose.

Now astronomers realize that this grand precession of constellations is the result of a wobble in the earth’s axis which creates the way the constellations can be seen. Consequently, we might call this idea of a super God beyond all the ancient constellation Gods, the Wobble God hypothesis. The problem with the wobble God is that it did not have the personal accessibility apparent in the older gods such as Osirus and Isis and Amun Ra. That is the ancients could look up into the heavens and see the constellations, but they could not see the wobble, all they knew was that something or someone very powerful was causing the constellations to drift across the heavens in a 2,000 year precession, something that was literally beyond their comprehension.

Because they had no language to describe it, or conceptual ground to explain it, the Wobble God became the unknowable one, our generic God. Because it is much harder to have a personal relationship with a God created by a wobble they could not understand at the time, as soon as Akhenaten died, the Egyptians quickly returned to the worship of the older gods they could visually comprehend. Moreover, the 2,000 year change of the precession was far beyond their brief life times and hence impossible for them to comprehend the timescale involved in the recognition of this new super god. For hundreds of years as these different religions came into contact with each other, they recognized that each was an expression of these constellational divinities, so that they recognized Zeus as Osirus, Apollo as Ra and so forth. It was only the descendents of the Armarna experiment, as Jan Assman calls it in his book Moses the Egyptian, who persisted in worshiping the Wobble God rejecting all other constellation Gods as inferior to it.

What we are left with then is the Abrahamic religions who all reject the constellation Gods in favor of the unknowable force which set them in the heavens in the first place. And so we have the generic god who is without a name because its existence is literally beyond the ancient’s ability to comprehend as they had no knowledge of the spherical earth or its wobble which caused their view of the constellations to shift in a 26,000 year precession. This is similar to the enormity of the billions of years inherent in the geological concept of Deep time, which makes evolution so hard for those of us granted only three score and ten in our life cycles to comprehend that many reject it out right in favor of a much more familiar creation story from Genesis.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

An assault on the rights of the individual and freedom of conscience

In an Editorial published today (3/29/09) in the Washington Times, “The U.N. tackles religion” the editors argue that the Organization of the Islamic Conferences is making an effort to insinuate Shariah Law into the United Nations Human Rights Council’s approach to religion world-wide. This is a chilling “assault on the rights of the individual and freedom of conscience” under the guise of combating defamation of religion. That is to say combating the defamation of Islam. There is no effort to combat the defamation of Judaism or Hinduism or Buddhism or Christianity by Islamic voices, or for that matter by the Koran which apparently is filled with excoriations of every other religion. But then it must be ok for Islamists to revile non-believers.

What is wrong with this picture? If our Islamic friends would like to prevent what they feel is defamation within their own nations, that certainly is their right. But the effort to isolate the word “defamation” as if it were to apply only to Islam is an aggressive violation of what the freedom of religion should mean. Will our Islamic friends refrain from defaming Israel and Judaism? Will they refrain from defaming India and Hinduism? Will they refrain from defaming unbeliever’s generally? Is that even a possibility? Or would they see such a refusal to defame the unbeliever as a basic assault on Islam?

What we have here seems to be an unbelievable intrusion into the rights of member States to manage their own freedoms. Is this what we are to expect from Islamic states? Do they not understand that the United Nations is not a World Government and that membership in it is optional? Perhaps what we have here is a direct assault on the very existence of the United Nations as an effective community for diplomacy and free discussion. Perhaps this is a lesson to us all about the true nature of Islam as a religion that seeks only world domination and the elimination of all other faiths.

Where are the moderate voices in Islam? Where are those among the Islamic believers who recognize the rights of others to believe as they wish? Perhaps what we have here is yet another lesson about how there is no tolerance to be found in Islam, only a sham pretence of tolerance while it continues to be the fastest growing religion in America.
Let us hope that calmer more moderate voices are able to bring reason to the deliberations of the United Nations Human Rights Council in this matter.