This Week's Reader December 7, 2008: Double Your Reading Edition  

Sunday, December 07, 2008

From Moonrise to Sunset
In this panorama of Earth and sky recorded on Thursday, November 13, the Full Moon rises along the eastern horizon at the far left. Of course, the Full Moon rises at sunset and that Thursday's setting Sun was also captured at the far right. In between, 17 digital images are stitched together to follow the horizon to the south in a lovely twilight portrait of the city of Lisbon, Portugal. The serene view takes in part of the longest bridge in Europe, the Vasco da Gama bridge, beneath the rising Moon and ends at the mouth of the Tagus River looking west toward the sunset and the Atlantic Ocean. The photographer's vantage point was Lisbon's 100 foot high Cristo Rei monument on the south bank of the Tagus, at the foot of the port city's other famous bridge, the Ponte 25 de Abril.

Chilean Skyscape

A Happy Sky Over Los Angeles

Venus in the Moon

Smile in the Sky

Here We Go Again
“City leaders have demonstrated their clear bias towards protecting and providing special privileges to their favored religious beliefs, in clear violation of the California and United States Constitutions. I would like to think that few Christians are so insecure in their faith as to support this action.”

Why I am no longer a Christian – Part 1
I was taught that God loved me so much that he let his son be killed for me. Yet, I knew that if I were to love someone, I would not create them with built-in conflict that guaranteed unhappiness on some level. If I were to give into my sexual urges, I would be sexually happy but spiritually distraught. If I were not to give into my sexual urges, I would be spiritually happy but sexually frustrated. I saw animals (who I believed God also created) roaming free with a single purpose in mind—to fulfill their nature. They were not conflicted to behave against their nature. Indeed, it would have felt cruel for me to deny any animal its natural needs—and yet I was to believe that God’s denial of my natural needs was out of love.

Christianity offers an explanation for this—that my nature was sinful, and that I differ from the animals because I have a soul. I was told not to question God’s ways, because “there is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is the way of death.” I was also told to “lean not unto my own understanding.” I was told to just trust The Lord. My nature was evil, and The Lord had created a way to redeem my nature. The entire theory of salvation became extremely convoluted, with little branches and secret compartments to explain away all the various lapses in logic.

Civil Rights
Why churches fear gay marriage
The possibility that a whole new generation of American males is being raised by women without men is very challenging for the churches. I think they want to reassert some sort of male authority over the order of things. I think the pro-Proposition 8 movement was really galvanized by an insecurity that churches are feeling now with the rise of women.

Monotheistic religions feel threatened by the rise of feminism and the insistence, in many communities, that women take a bigger role in the church. At the same time that women are claiming more responsibility for their religious life, they are also moving out of traditional roles as wife and mother. This is why abortion is so threatening to many religious people -- it represents some rejection of the traditional role of mother.

Gay Adoption: The Real Agenda
Consider the implications of the policy in this case. It would mean removing the children from the home in which they have been raised -- "one of the most caring and nurturing placements" the guardian has ever seen. It would mean putting them through the trauma, once again, of being uprooted and placed with complete strangers. And because of the difficulty of placing kids their age, the CFCE said, it could mean the brothers would be permanently separated from each other.

And for what? Solely to shield them from the supposed perils of gay parents. Gays are treated as more dangerous than felons, drug offenders and known child abusers -- none of whom is categorically barred from adopting.

UFC to fighters: appear in videogames or you don't fight
Sports-themed video games are huge moneymakers for publishers, but using the likeness of a professional athlete in these games is proving to be an increasingly contentious undertaking. The upcoming UFC Undisputed 2009 serves as the most recent example of this, as reports surfaced yesterday that popular fighters Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck were on the outs with the Ultimate Fighting Championship organization. The reason? They were being asked to sign away their likeness rights for life. For Fitch, the disagreement has become so intense that he had already been cut by the company.

Moral money managers now slamming games for GLBT content
With the holiday season upon us, shoppers are kicking their spending into high gear, and these consumers often consult gift guides for advice on what to buy. A popular choice? Creating lists that advise parents on what to NOT buy their kids. In the video game industry, we've all gotten used to seeing such lists surface around this time of the year; this week, we were treated to such an item by The Timothy Plan, a group that manages money based on Judeo-Christian principles. While profanity and violence were on the list, the group's attitudes toward homosexuality are what raised the most attention.

Atheist group sues state Homeland Security department
Edwin Kagin, a Boone County lawyer and the national legal director of American Atheists, said he was appalled to read in the Herald-Leader last week that state law establishes praising God – and installing a plaque in God’s honor – as the first duty of the Homeland Security Office.

The aftermath of the Mumbai attack
They say it’s over but how do we, the common citizens cope with this? It’s going to take some time for life to get back to normal and I am not sure that I want it get back to normal. We are a nation in mourning and will be for some time. I was not anywhere near the death and destruction, although a person I know was trapped in there the whole night. He got away unscathed but many didn’t. Images flash before my eyes. 60 innocents, men, women, and children, shot on v.t station as they alighted from trains. 17 men and women lined up in a hotel corridor and shot to death mercilessly. The Israeli rabbi and his wife tortured to death on wednesday night. Brave firemen rescuing people trapped in the Taj Mahal hotel rooms even as the battle raged on, unmindful of the bullets. A police jeep ambushed, killing three brave men. Hotel staff maintaining their calm and helping guests out of the hotel, risking their own lives. People huddled in their rooms, frightened to death. Terrorists shooting civilians on sight, killing hundreds. Two killers cornered at Girgaum chowpatty by policemen. NSG commandos storming the hotel and Nariman House…

The Lil’ Hos Go Down
Knowing my utter loathing for the whorelicious line of dolls known as Bratz, the entire concept of which seems to be to show little girls just how good life will be if only they will turn themselves into vapid pre-teen mall sluts, several people have forwarded me stories of how a judge has ordered Bratz dolls — all of them — off the shelf after the company that made them lost a copyright suit to Mattel, maker of Barbie. Their expectation is that I would be greeting this news with something close to joy.

Why “Twilight” is hurting America
This movie makes me sad at so many levels. But most of all, it makes me sad that thousands of teenage girls, including my niece, think this is one of the greatest movies ever. That this is how love is supposed to be. That it’s romantic to subsume your entire being for a boy with a spiky haircut and awesome abs. And that the only way to attract said man is to look a certain way. Edward never fell in love with Bella’s mind, her kindness or her wit. He noticed her because of how she looked and, moreso, how she smelled.

Hitler And Stalin Again
The point that struck me was that contrary to the usual Christian blather about how horrible atheists have been in the 20th century, it is the religion of Christianity, specifically that of the Inquisition, that compares more favorably to Nazism and Stalinism, than anything even remotely atheistic. The Inquisitorial Toolbox, as Kirsch refer to it, was left open and used repeatedly by the Nazis and the Stalinist Russians, and not because they were atheists, but because they were dogmatists whose primary directive was mind control of the population, not conversion to atheism.

Why Bother to Promote A Healthy Attitude Towards Nudity?
On the other hand, there are at least two, broad reasons for somewhat caring how nudity is viewed (shameless pun intended). First, the notion that nudity is scandalous, immoral, and even dangerous contributes to all sorts of socio-political absurdities. Janet Jackson once exposed her nipple for less than two seconds on national television and caused a controversy lasting several days that at its peak swept aside major news stories. A school teacher was reprimanded then fired for taking her children to a museum that displayed nude sculptures. A grandmother was prosecuted for photographing her two partly-clothed granddaughters bouncing on her bed. Here in Colorado Springs, a woman threatened to sue a drug store for “trauma” after she accidentally received images of a nude man from the store’s photo lab. And a man in another state was once convicted of sex offender charges for walking about nude in his own home without closing his drapes. All of these examples and others point to some of the consequences of our accepted, but ridiculous attitude towards nudity.

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