Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Antichrist calls protestants Antichrists

Growing up as a Seventh-day Adventist it seemed that every time you turned around someone was spouting off about how the Pope and Catholicism was the Antichrist and the beast of Revelation 13. We were taught that the wound was inflicted in the past, but that the beast was to be healed of its wound and march to kill all of us SDA's who keep the law (yada yada).

It's only fitting, then, that the Pope would issue a 16 page document calling the non-Catholic churches sort of "wanna be" churches suffering from a wound (See CNN article (removed) and FoxNews). Nice. Whatever. I love this quote:

The document said the Council's opening to other faiths recognized there were "many elements of sanctification and truth" in other Christian denominations, but stressed only Catholicism had all the elements to be Christ's Church fully.
Exactly what are those "elements"? Hmmm, one could only speculate in an unflattering way... I seriously hope that Protestants don't sit passively and let stuff like this float by unchallenged.

Update: What we meant was...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Protest editorial against Bush

He was my president. I voted for him. I supported him. I now regret that vote and no longer support him. This after much thought and a shifting of perspectives informed by education. We were white-hot angry at Clinton at his wranglings and legal manipulations. We boldly declared that it was about character and honesty. What the hell is commuting Libby's sentence? (See cartoon) Traditional Japanese leaders would step down if they had made a mistake as grave as our attack on Iraq under a false premise. Indeed, they'd commit seppuku.

While I may not share the anger, I certainly resonate with the sentiment:

Update: I was told that this post seems a bit angry (and that it might turn people away). Ding! I am ticked off about this president (finally). I didn't start that way. I supported him. But I do find it super interesting that the religious right descended on Clinton like a flock of vultures when he played with Monica and lied under oath, yet they've not so much as lifted a pinkie of protest with all the things this administration has done or allowed. They whined about Clinton's pardons, yet at least he had the decency to wait for a period of mourning. Bush had his gun cocked, aimed and ready to fire at the drop of the gavel. He commuted Libby's sentence, and could yet pardon him alltogether.

Just after 9/11 I was glad that we had a president of conviction and strength, and I was glad that he was responding in strength to the "terrorist" threat. Mostly I supported the invasion of Afghanistan if for no other reason than I don't like theocracies; the Taliban are no friend of humanity. Yet I'll never forget the sickened feeling I got when I started hearing the administration float the word "Iraq" and "Hussein" into the public awareness. It seemed so transparent to me. Baby Bush was gonna finish off what Daddy Bush left undone (as it were). Sure, there may have been a long series of atrocities against humanity, and sure Iraq may have been supporting terrorists. But suddenly the "war" changed from justice for those who attacked us to a global war against every Tom, Dick and Ahib that looked at us wrong.

We well know the Iraq war history. Little resistence. No WMDs. No Bin Laden. No after-war plan and certainly no exit strategy. No joy. Enter Guantanamo (see description) America's little terrorist camp - er, torture - eh, I meant to say, America's little terrorist inquisition (crap! freudian slip again) - It's our detention camp, ya, that's it... - that used International legal loopholes to pay bounties and gather suspicious looking characters from all over the world and beat the hell out of them and humiliate them trying to ascertain if they are bad guys. If they were not enemies of America before we grabbed them they certainly are after we finished up with them in Gitmo. We know that there have been innocent people dragged there. But isn't this, after all, why in this country we believe so strongly in due process and individual legal rights? Isn't this why we have an open process? If the humans that are in this country have these rights, are we saying that other humans -- just because they are really naughty -- do not? Have you actually seen some of the people who enjoy the rights of this country and who are in Super Max prisions? Naughty indeed.

So am I a little ticked off? Yes. Do I think other people should be too? Yes.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Sharpton vs. Hitchens on moral absolutes

I'm not particularly fond of either of these guys, especially Sharpton. He strikes me as the classical definition of a "blow hard". Hitchens, for all of his intellectual acumen is generally so abrasive that any merit his arguments about religion and the practice of religion may have are lost. This debate was especially fun to watch, though the debate would have been all the more entertaining were it between Dobson and Hitchens.

As for moral absolutes verses relativism, the question of how we prosecute people is flawed in this context. We prosecute people because we are a society founded on the rule of law. We arrive at this structure as the descendants of England and highly influenced by French thought, which itself was influenced by the classical societies of Rome and Greece. While our founder's motivation may have included theistic leanings law itself is viewed as an impartial arbiter to ensure freedom and the smooth operation of society. ("Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.")

To complain that removing the Ten Commandments will lead to the destruction of the rule of law is a flawed argument, and religiously motivated. This country was never founded on, nor enforced, the Ten Commandments. We have no laws enforcing "Thou shalt not covet" and no method of prosecuting someone for coveting or not holding God in highest regard. Were we to truly have as our foundation the Ten Commandments we would need to prosecute Atheists for breaking the first. These are religious laws that inform the spiritual mind. They are higher, or deeper, than our normal civil laws that are created as a response to societal problems.

To illustrate the difference between our laws and the Decalogue, consider the laws regulating traffic. Shortly after automobiles were invented two things happened. First, guys wanted to race and second the flow of cars through the streets resulted in chaos. Civil leadership understood that in order to facilitate growth and protect people laws were needed. As time progressed the laws, regulations and conventions evolved into what they are today. I well remember intersections regulated by lights with just a green and a red. Such a light would spell disaster today in many busy city intersections. The yellow along with delays provide a buffer that prevents desperate idiots from crashing into too-eager drivers who zoom out at the first glimpse of a green light.

To say that our laws are founded on the Ten Commandments is to hijack modern thought with ancient theology. Even the Christian who has understood the differences between the old and the new covenants understands that we are no longer bound under the Decalogue. The Ten Commandments simply are insufficient to regulate our societies, and would lead to a level of intolerance that is unacceptable. Unless we are prepared to outlaw any religion except Christianity or draft vague definitions of terms such as "god", "covet" and "lie" we have no possibility of enforcing the Ten Commandments.

While the Christian may believe in moral absolutes, this is very different than asking how we prosecute criminals. They are criminals, by definition, because they have been found guilt of breaking one of our criminal laws -- not for having broken some moral absolute. They are prosecuted for driving under the influence, or for having sold drugs. The fact that the various laws on our books can be grouped under one or more of the Decalogue does not in fact mean that our laws are derived from it. We have, as a society, decided that we do not want to allow dangerous drugs to be sold or people to drive unsafely. Fairness, and freedom dictate that one person's actions should not impede the freedom of another's.