This Weeks Reader April 27, 2008  

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Why do I want to fight fundamentalism?
So, what do you think? Am I being a hypocrite when I rant about Christians proselytizing? I know from my own past experience and from my born-again friends and family that fundamentalists and evangelicals think they are actually helping people when they witness to them and tell them about the saving grace of Jesus. The classic explanation is that they know a bridge is out and people are driving forward full-speed to their deaths. Wouldn’t they be remiss not to shout out a warning? But I also know the unhealthy mental and emotional life which often results from the born-again experience.

Are good intentions enough? How can we know we are really helping people and not leading them into more garbage and confusion? Am I just the same as a missionary when I say that I want to do everything I can to help people recover from the damage that they’ve suffered from religion?


Capitalism is unsustainable
Over the past few years I’ve spoken to several conservatives about economics and they can’t get it through their frakking heads that growth cannot be sustained infinitely. I don’t know if they can’t comprehend infinity or they can’t look beyond the ends of their noses to care about what their policies will do to future generations. But either way, whenever I mention that growth has limits and that eventually our economic system will collapse in on itself, they look at me like I have four heads. It might happen in 10 years or 100, but it will eventually happen if we continue with the same flawed system we have today.

Are the French turning into Prudes???
Well, he's right. But it surprised me. For years the French have had a laissez-faire attitude towards nudity. After all, the beaches are, for the most part, topless and even nudist, there is nothing unusual about a nude statue or paintings, or photos of nudes in public places on billboards, in fact, the French are almost as much at home with nudity as the Scandinavians, who have long held the opinion that your skin is ample covering for any occasion. My husband used to tease me about how prudish and Puritan the Americans are. There really is a completely different mind-set about nudity, accidental or otherwise. If Janet Jackson's whole shirt had fallen off here in France during that live Telecast, no one would have thought it a crime.

But is that changing? Carla Sarkozy's nude photo in the English newspapers went practically unmentioned here. The French press were strangley silent, and only a brief mention was ever made. Before, in the 70's or 80's, it would have been cause for national celebration. "Our first lady has a body to die for - and here's the proof!" Now it's an embarrassment.

Above the Clouds

Naomi Klein on social change
No Logo author Naomi Klein talks about the Montreal Massacre, crony capitalism, and writing for social change.

Mccain Vs. Mccain
McCain appears to think that he can magically unite the two main strands in the Republican foreign-policy establishment. But he can't. This is not about personalities but about two philosophically divergent views of international affairs. Put together, they will produce infighting and incoherence. We have seen this movie before. We have watched an American president unable to choose between his ideologically driven vice president and his pragmatic secretary of State—and the result was the catastrophe of George W. Bush's first term. Twenty-five years earlier, we watched another president who believed that he could encompass the entire spectrum of foreign policy. He, too, gave speeches that were drafted by advisers with divergent world views: in that case, Cyrus Vance and Zbigniew Brzezinski. It led to the paralyzing internal battles of the Carter years. Does John McCain want to try this experiment one more time?

Theocratic Quote of the Day
So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.

Torture - It's nothing new to Christians
This is why we have every right to criticize religion, even with the knowledge that our words are somewhat hurtful. People will cry out “but look at all the good Christianity does”. But if it can’t even rise to the occasion during blatant atrocity then what good is it as a moral institution? The Christians who, themselves, are against torture will claim this is an unfair attack. But it’s not! It’s a completely evenhanded assessment. There is nothing in the Christian code that makes it absolutely clear, for all Christians, at all times, that torture is grossly immoral. And that means the Christian religion is objectively useless when it comes to morality. If it can't instruct us unfailingly about such matters, then it is not needed for any moral issue. We can err on our own, without the supernatural trappings of religion!

Matt Taibbi Goes to a Christian Retreat
By the end of that weekend, Phil Fortenberry could have told us that John Kerry was a demon with clawed feet and not one person would have so much as blinked. Because none of that politics stuff matters anyway, once you’ve gotten this far. All that matters is being full of the Lord and empty of demons. And since everything that is not of God is demonic, asking these people to be objective about anything else is just absurd. There is no “anything else.” All alternative points of view are nonstarters. There is this “our thing,” a sort of Cosa Nostra of the soul, and then there are the fires of Hell. And that’s all.

The Theistic Me vs. the Atheistic Me
Some Christians - not all, by any means - believe that when your child is born with a horrible congenital defect, it’s God’s will. Accept it and cope with it. He’s teaching you perfect love, patience, dependence on Him…. When ministers are assigned to parishes for which they are ill-suited, they are assured that God always works through the ecclesiastical system to place them just where He needs them. He’s teaching them wisdom, patience, obedience…. Such tenets are shallow and stupid, at least, frequently manipulative and, at their worst, abusive.

It's good for Hillary, and even better for me
As a male, I’ve been privy to many discussions in which females were not present. Naturally you can not put a big emphasis on this type of anecdotal evidence. But it’s worth remembering that I’m a pretty liberal guy and the types of people I associate with are hardly hard-core, conservative males. If I’ve repeatedly heard gender-based insults cast at Hillary, I can only imagine how much of it goes on in other, more macho circles.

Sex and a single (formerly Christian) woman
Understandably, these factors hindered me from truly enjoying my body and letting go. I never saw sex as dirty or sinful; it was my great desire for it that appeared to be the main problem. As a Christian and a young lady, I was taught to keep my legs locked until the right time, which usually meant the wedding night. "Making out" was akin to toeing a very dangerous and thin line. Plus, most men, I was taught, wanted a virgin to marry, not "used" goods. I heard awful messages such as, "If the milk is free, why bother to buy the cow?" "Who wants to buy a second-hand vehicle when you can get one that's brand-new?" "Once you lose it, you can never get it back." "Soul ties are created through sex, so save yourself for the right one (or you'll be sorry, I guess)." "There should only be one key for one lock." Ugh!


What does my current swoon for Cambria say, other than I’m Microsoft’s font puppy? I really don’t know, other than I guess I’m enough of a geek to think about this stuff at all. I do know that I change favorite fonts on a regular basis. I don’t know what that means, either. I do know, however, that I can’t imagine a world in which I actually like Courier or any of its progeny. I’m aware it’s a standard and even use font in publishing, and I have even been known to format work into it, after I’m done writing, just like I double space everything after I’m done writing. Doesn’t mean I don’t hate it with something approaching a passion. It’s the opposite of esthetically pleasing. I wish it would die. But it won’t. At least I have Optima and Cambria to console me at the moment.

*A special category created for Philly

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