A response to Judith Levy’s comment about a “religion versus science” post I wrote

Last week, I wrote about an image I saw in Facebook, which sought to disparage religion by showing that religion tears people down, while science builds them up:

Facebook poster saying religion demeans people

My response was to mock up an alternative poster that the little girl could have held up, one that shows that religion elevates the individual while pure science has no regard for the individual:
Religion versus Science
Somehow that post came across the radar of Judith Levy, who blogs at Ricochet. Judith believes that I used the wrong tactics in the battle against anti-religious bias:

The incredibly depressing photograph to the right has been flying all over the interwebs recently. As you can see, a cute little girl is being used as a prop to bash religion and tout science (which, of course, are assumed to be mutually exclusive).

I was struck by the response to this photo on a blog called Bookwormroom.com, the subhead of which claims that “conservatives deal with facts and reach conclusions”.

At this point, Levy offers a few quotations from my poster, the one that has religion acknowledging life’s creation from the moment of conception, versus the scientific view that we are a bag of chemicals. She then wraps up by concluding that I offered the argument to defend religion:

Now, I understand the anguish of religious Christians when they see offensive tripe like the above photo disseminated, especially with the big steaming side of self-righteousness that always accompanies it. (One yearns to give the people zipping it out to all their Facebook friends a good patsch to wipe away the smirk.) Still, responding by announcing that religion = pro-life seems counterproductive: it reduces the issue down to pro-life vs. pro-choice and shuts the conversation down immediately. (It also discounts the reality of religious believers who are also pro-choice, but that’s a secondary issue here.)

What has always amazed me about the God vs. Science line of thinking on the left is how unimaginative it is. Why not attack on that line instead? Why not force a leftist to explain why the math behind the movement of the spheres disproves the existence of a creator? Put them on the defensive, don’t go into your own defensive crouch. A person who puts a sign like this in his own daughter’s hands is not going to hear a word you say if you open with a pro-life argument. That’s for later, no?

Aside from finding it amusing that Levy thinks that I, a vaguely theistic Jew, am a “religious Christian,” I think it’s worth clarifying what I was setting out to do.  Levy apparently believes that I somehow abandoned my commitment to facts by engaging in pro-Life propaganda, and others may also have misunderstood what I set out to do.

Contrary to Levy’s assumption about my goal in writing that post, I was not attempting to prove religion. Why not?  Because I don’t see disproving religion as the central point of the original photograph.  Look carefully at the poster.  It can be summed up as follows:  “According to religion I am [all sorts of negative things]” versus “according to science I am all sorts of [wonderful].”  The point that child’s parent is trying to make isn’t that God is dead, but that religious practices and people devalue humans beings, while pure science, especially as practiced on the Left, elevates them.

You don’t have to take my word for it.  Go back and read the poster carefully.  It doesn’t challenge religion at all. There is not a single word in there that can be interpreted to mean “There is no God.” Instead, it says only that those who believe in God do not value human life, while those who believe in science do. That was the central canard I was attacking.

Within the context of the poster’s implicit argument, every statement I made was a factually true challenge to the poster.  I wasn’t arguing religious doctrine or ultimate scientific fact.  Instead, I took on the poster writer’s world, in which religious people think humans are worthless, evil and valueless, and demonstrated that, in the real world — and the world of those facts I cherish — America’s religious Christians (as opposed to those Leftist’s who, like the Devil, can quote scripture) have a fanatic belief in each individual’s value. To that end, I focus closely on the way in which America’s religious class practices its religion.

On the flip side, I wasn’t challenging whether science is right or wrong. (Although I will say here that, to the extent science is based on data and conclusions that can be drawn from that data, it’s rather silly to think that hard, real science deals in value-laden terms as “beautiful,” “full of wonder” and “smart.”)  Instead, I pointed out, entirely accurately, that it’s the nature of science to reduce life to the lowest common denominator — a collection of chemicals.  Moreover, it’s the “scientific” Left that has taken this definition and concluded, in true Orwellian fashion, that not all lives are equally valuable.

In sum, Levy seems to believe that I failed to counter the original photo because I didn’t engage in a theological argument about God’s existence.  And she’s right, I didn’t and nor would I do it differently if I could re-write the post.  To the extent I believe that the original photo intended to say that religion and God place different values on human lives, I cut through the conclusory language in the original photo and replaced those value-laden terms with hard facts about the way in which religious people differ in their approach from those who elevate science to a religion when it comes to determining each individual’s true worth.

Obama’s stupid crack about parochial education

Much is being made of Obama’s speech in Ireland, in which he managed to insult parochial education.  Catholics seem most disturbed, perhaps because (a) most parochial schools in America are Catholic and (b) Obama has been at war with the Catholic church by trying to make churches pay for abortifacients and birth control, which is a big First Amendment no-no.

Reading what Obama said, there’s no doubt that, once you work your way through his sloppy formulation, it’s right up there with the best of Obama’s offensive statements:

Because issues like segregated schools and housing, lack of jobs and opportunity–symbols of history that are a source of pride for some and pain for others–these are not tangential to peace; they’re essential to it,” said Obama. “If towns remain divided–if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs–if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation.

“Ultimately, peace is just not about politics,” he said. “It’s about attitudes; about a sense of empathy; about breaking down the divisions that we create for ourselves in our own minds and our own hearts that don’t exist in any objective reality, but that we carry with us generation after generation.

“And I know, because America, we, too, have had to work hard over the decades, slowly, gradually, sometimes painfully, in fits and starts, to keep perfecting our union,” said Obama. “A hundred and fifty years ago, we were torn open by a terrible conflict. Our Civil War was far shorter than The Troubles, but it killed hundreds of thousands of our people. And, of course, the legacy of slavery endured for generations.

“Even a century after we achieved our own peace, we were not fully united,” he said. “When I was a boy, many cities still had separate drinking fountains and lunch counters and washrooms for blacks and whites.”

I actually understand what he’s trying to say:  in a country riven by past sectarian violence, it’s dangerous to perpetuate sect identity.  Put another way, he’s saying that the only way to live together in harmony is to abandon religion entirely.  “Hey, come on, guys!  We know you’re incapable of living together, so let’s just go all Soviet and renounce religion entirely.”

Understood properly, not as a slap at the Catholic church, but at the notion of jettisoning religion and religious identity entirely, Obama’s remark is even more stupid than it first appears.  He’s my age, so he should know exactly what happened when the stifling Soviet yoke was removed from regions that had mutually hostile religions that were suppressed under Communism:  they exploded into orgies of violence.  Suppressing religion didn’t make these hostilities vanish; it made them fester.  (Think:  Kosovo.)

James Taranto figured out that Obama’s problem is that he sees everything through a Civil Rights filter, despite never having lived through Civil Rights.  (He was only three when the Civil Rights Act was passed; he was in Indonesia when the last gasps of Jim Crow worked their way through the system; he was at a fancy school in Hawaii where Civil Rights were not an issue; and he emerged as a young adult into an Ivy League world.)  Here’s Taranto’s take on another facet of Obama’s colossal ignorance:

Note that Obama is talking–or attempting to talk–about Northern Ireland, a country that is unusual within Christendom for its recent history of sectarian violence between Catholics and Protestants. His comments make a certain superficial sense in that context, whereas they would be completely out of place and objectionable in reference to America, where pacific pluralism is the rule.

Note also that Obama doesn’t actually seem to know anything about Northern Ireland. Viewed in context, his comments are actually a homily about civil rights in America. His criticism of Catholic and Protestant “schools and buildings” is just a poorly thought out analogy: It doesn’t seem to have occurred to him that while there’s no good reason to segregate schools by race, there are differences in content between the education offered by Protestant, Catholic and secular schools.

Obama is why I’m sour about the Ivy League schools.  They take in bright people (and I do think that Obama is innately bright) and turns out ignoramuses, who have no real knowledge, just a warped ideological framework to which they try to attach, however, poorly, what situation greets them at any given moment.  Obama’s not the only example of this problem; he’s just the most embarrassingly prominent.

One more point worth noting, although I’m far from the first to make it, is that Obama would never have the courage to argue that religious teaching leads to violence if he were in a Muslim country.

God’s Chosen People

Michaelangelo hands of God and Adam

There’s a guy where I exercise who’s nice, but I’ve never really warmed up to him.  He’s not part of the ownership or the management team, so it’s never really mattered to me what I think of him.  Last week, though, I discovered that my subconscious might have been sending me messages when I couldn’t make myself like him.  After a tirade against capitalism, for ObamaCare, and in favor of restrictions on all things that could affect Global Warming (yes, let’s get rid of the sun!), he said, “And another thing….”  He then started to inform me how pernicious the message is that the Jews are “God’s chosen people.”

My exercise place is wonderful, so I wasn’t about to upset the nice dynamic there by getting into a debate with a hard-core Leftist.  Those debates usually end badly:  the Leftist doesn’t change his mind, while any people in the vicinity who aren’t hard-core but are still Left (this is Marin after all), get very upset and start thinking with their navels, not their brains.  The best way for me to handle situations like this is to leave, think my arguments through, and then have those arguments ready for the inevitable round two.  This blog is where I think my arguments through. . . .

Apropos his anger that Jews think they’re special (along the lines of “Who are they to claim they’re God’s chosen people?”), it occurred to me that both the Left and antisemites are ferociously ignorant about their Old Testament.  Here is what the Bible tells (and all of you, who are more Bible literate than I, please correct me when I’m wrong):

Before he formed the covenant with the Jewish God, Abraham was polytheistic.  Ur, his original homeland, was certainly polytheistic.  God did not originally appear as a monotheistic God.  Instead, he just appeared as a divine being who selected Abraham (or, as he was initially, Abram).  If Abraham joined in a covenant with God, aligning his family with God, and circumcising all males as a sign of that covenant, God would treat Abraham and his descendents well.  Provided that all of them, through the centuries, abided by the covenant (and circumcision is a harsh demand) they would have land and good fortune.

The Bible acknowledges more than once that there are other gods swirling around in the ancient world.  For example, when Jacob and Rachel flee her father, Laban, Rachel takes her father’s “Household Gods.”  Significantly, in the Ten Commandments, God himself acknowledges other Gods.  It’s just that, as to the Jews, if they wish to keep the covenant, he must be the only God they claim and worship:

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

Those words make sense only if there was competition. Otherwise, God would have said, “There are no other Gods, but for me.”

While God promised much to the children of Abraham, he also placed heavy burdens upon them in addition to circumcision.  In a time when people were comforted by a panoply of gods, all of whom were physically present and whose favors could be bought with human or animal sacrifices, the Jews had just one abstract God in whom they had to believe, regardless of his invisible nature.

During the Greek occupation in Palestine, the Jews could not partake of the physical libertinism that characterized the Greeks.  Jews could not hold on to slaves for more than seven years, and had to treat their slaves humanely, which placed them at an economic disadvantage compared to others in the ancient world.  They were prohibited from eating all kinds of foods, which may have conferred some health benefits on them (e.g., no trichinosis), but which also limited their ability to thrive.

And so it goes, rule after rule that gave the Jews a spiritual advantage, but that limited their options in the ancient world.  In exchange, absent periodic miracles, such as the exodus from Egypt, being God’s chosen people wasn’t so great:  they were isolated and often at war with the world around them, their lives were constrained by God’s stringent rules, and God was big on punishing individuals or whole groups for any failure properly to abide by His rules.

The end result was that, in the ancient world, Jews were considered everything from fellow imperialists, to slaves, to an occupied people.  The one thing that they weren’t considered to be, though, was arrogant and special.  Indeed, in the ancient world, they were considered foolish for hewing to one invisible God rather than taking advantage of the panoply of gods then benefiting everyone else.

What changed was Christianity, which looked at the Jewish God and the whole notion of monotheism and concluded that it was a good idea.  The early Christians were Jews and, when they split from Jews who didn’t recognize Christ’s divinity, they still considered themselves God’s Chosen People — only they were even more chosen because they had taken Christ as their savior.  Suddenly, the Jews’ claim to be God’s Chosen People seemed (a) wrong and (b) arrogant, considering that both Jews and Christians were claiming the same God as their own.

All of which is to say that the Leftist at the dojo was wrong when he sought to insult Jews because they somehow think they’re “special.”  That’s not the issue at all.  Jews have simply chosen, for thousands of years, to abide by a very challenging covenant that Abraham made with a God who came to Abraham and said, “If you pick me, and you play by my rules, we’ll be a team forever.”  In the beginning, everybody thought Abraham made a bad deal by letting himself and his descendents get tagged by this jealous God.  It was only with the passing of time that others began to think that they’d like to be tagged too.

Certainly now, Jews do not display religious arrogance.  They do not demand, either with words or swords, that others worship their God; and they do not enslave or tax or otherwise discriminate against those who don’t.  Yes, amongst themselves they think they’re doing the right thing, but so does every group, whether religious or otherwise.  Why bother to be a group if you don’t have special bonds that distinguish you from others?  But there’s a profound difference between thinking “Yup, I’m engaging in correct religious behavior,” and thinking “You all are evil and doomed.  You deserve to die and then go to Hell.  And while you’re on this earth, I have the right to make it a Hell on earth for you.”  Now that’s arrogant.

The reason that liberals hate Christianity, but ignore Islam

One of the things that’s frustrating for non-liberals and non-Progressives is Leftists’ refusal to look Islam in the face (so to speak).  Yes, there are crazy people who are Christians and there are entire Christian sects that are crazy (such as the Westboro Baptists or Warren Jeffs’ polygamist Mormon cult).  The fact remains, however, that Christians as a whole, whether they belong to big churches or small ones, do not embrace or practice terrorism to achieve their political or religious goals.

Muslims, by contrast, routinely practice terrorism to achieve goals that are simultaneously religious and political, owing to Islam’s fusion of God and state.  Even though it’s remarkably simple to tie Islam to terrorism (9/11, the underwear bomber, the Fort Hood shooter, the attempted Portland Christmas tree massacre, the Boston Marathon bombing), Leftists scurry around like cockroaches exposed to the light in their desperate attempt to avoid acknowledging Islam’s violent heart.

Today, I read one thing and wrote another, both of which address Leftist hatred for Christianity, even though modern Christianity and genuine Judaism (as opposed to the hard Leftism that masquerades as “reform Judaism”) are the most humane, civilizing forces the world has ever seen.  With their focus on justice and grace, they rid the world of slavery, ended child labor, advanced women’s status and, in Israel’s case, fought a 60-year war without sinking to the level of her enemies.  But the Left truly hates them and seeks to undermine them at every turn.

The article I read on this subject is Benjamin Wiker’s “Why aren’t liberals more critical of Islam?” In it, he posits that, because secularism arose within and in opposition to a Christian Europe and America, Christianity was its original enemy.  Giving proof, however, to my repeated claim that “Progressives” are actually profoundly “regressive,” secularists (i.e., Leftists) continue their battle with Christianity despite that particular war having ended long ago. Judaism and Christianity absorbed the better parts of secularism while holding on to their core religious principles.

Because they are locked forever in an ideological time warp, says Wiker, liberals (or Progressives or Leftists or whatever else they call themselves to avoid the taint their ideas leave behind) cannot contemplate the possibility that there is another enemy, greater than their old foe Christianity.  Which brings me to a post I did today for Mr. Conservative.  It concerns Michael ‘Mikey’ Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and one of the most rabid anti-Christians you will ever meet.

When I wrote the post this morning, it made me uncomfortable that such a venomous man is somehow Jewish, whether genetically or in actual practice.  I hate to see that kind of hatred emanate from a group with which I’m affiliated.  However, having read Wiker’s essay, I realize that my concern is unfounded.  Weinstein’s hostility to Christians isn’t because he’s Jewish, it’s because he’s a Leftist.   (Not all Jews are Leftists, and not all Leftists are Jews, but those Jews who are Leftists are amongst the most extreme Leftists.  Mikey’s in that category.)

Here’s my Mr. Conservative post.  See what you think:

SECNAV prayers with Marines and Sailors at Fallujah in 2006

The Obama government sure knows how to pick ‘em. Right now, the Pentagon is concerned about religious intolerance in the American military. When people who are neither Leftists nor career politicians in thrall to the White House think of intolerance in the military, they think of Major Nidal Malik Hasan who went on an “Allahu Akbar” shooting spree at Fort Hood, killing 13 people and injuring more than thirty. The Pentagon, though, isn’t fooled by these false trails. It knows who the really intolerant people in the military are: Christians.

To that end, the military has brought in Michael Weinstein, Esq., a “religious tolerance” specialist and the man who founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (“MRFF”). Michael knows all about tolerance. Or at least, he knows all about tolerance in the Obama era. To Michael (or “Mikey” as he likes to be known), a good way to express tolerance is to call Christians “monsters” or, even better “bloody monsters.”

According to Mikey’s tolerant world view, Christians who serve in the American military are “well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces.” And that’s just Mikey’s throat-clearing.

Troll through an article Mikey wrote in The Huffington Post to justify his tolerant attack on alleged Christian intolerance in the American military, and you’ll learn quickly that the people he’s out to destroy (tolerantly, of course) are “evil, fundamentalist Christian creatures.” They are “bandits” who “coagulate their stenchful substances” in religiously-based organizations that support traditional marriage and oppose abortion. Don’t be fooled by these old-fashioned values, though. In fact, says Mikey, “The basis of their ruinous unity is the bane of human existence and progress: horrific hatred and blinding bigotry.”

What inspired Weinstein’s apopletic rage is the fact that conservatives took offense when the military piggy-backed on a delusional Southern Poverty Law Center screed and identified conservative Christians as the greatest terrorist threat in America. Because these groups use hate-filled language, Mikey says, such as “God Hates Fags” or “Thank God for IEDs,” they’re obviously one step away from committing a bomb attack in a major American city. (It’s so magical. It’s as if 9/11, Fort Hood, and the Boston bombing never happened!)

If Mikey is correct, that toxic, hate-filled rhetoric is all one needs to prove that a person or organization constitutes an imminent danger, then Mikey better start looking over his shoulder. Considering the “evil, fundamentalist Christian creatures,” “bandits (who) coagulate their stenchful substances,” and “monsters” who inhabit his rhetorical world, he looks like he’s ready to blow.

What Mikey can’t comprehend is that, while mainstream Christians and conservatives routinely condemn and distance themselves from organizations such as the Westboro Baptist Church, Mikey gets to disseminate his particular brand of hate-filled, toxic intolerance at a major Progressive internet outlet.

Even worse than the applause he’s getting from the mainstream Left is the fact that he’s been taken on by the Pentagon as a consultant to help develop new policies on religious tolerance in the military. These new policies will include rules for court-martialing military chaplains who use the Christian gospel when they counsel the American troops under their care. Or, as MRFF Advisory Board member Larry Wilkerson told The Washington Post, they essentially sexually assaulting the troops with their God talk.

No kidding. Wilkerson says that “Sexual assault and proselytizing are absolutely destructive of the bonds that keep soldiers together.” Lest there be any misunderstanding, Mikey clarified to The Post what Wilkerson really meant:

This is a national security threat. What is happening [aside from sexual assault] is spiritual rape. And what the Pentagon needs is to understand is that it is sedition and treason. It should be punished.

Mikey hates everything. Or at least he hates everything that has to do with Christianity. He foams at the mouth, spittle flying, when he talks about Christians, imagining them guilty of the most heinous crimes. The problem is that it’s not Christians committing the crimes he imagines. The major terrorist crimes come from the Islamists, something that Mike and his friends on the Left refuse to acknowledge. It’s bad when even arch-liberal Bill Maher calls this denial “liberal bullshit.”

Speaking of committed, though, in a sane world Mikey’s delusions would have him being checked out by psychiatrists as a clear and present danger. In our insane world, psychiatrists are used to disarm our veterans and the delusional, hate-filled, spittle-flecked Mikey gets to work with the Pentagon to create a tolerance policy that ensures that military chaplains will be court martialed for doing their jobs.

If troops are indeed being punished or ostracized because they don’t embrace a particular form of Christianity, the military has to address that. But Mikey makes it clear that, for him, being Christian is the real problem. In that regard, he’s the typical Leftist who says that the First Amendment, rather than giving people the right to worship, means that the Christian religion must be erased from America.

(End of the Mr. Conservative article, beginning of my last comment on the subject.)

As for me, I think that people who are willing to fight and die for their country in a constitutionally-bound military run by civilians, in a nation controlled by the First Amendment, should be allowed to practice their religion without Leftists denying them the comfort of knowing that, as they go into battle, God walks at their side.

Charles Krauthammer has been reading Bookworm Room about gay marriage

That post title is, of course, a wild leap of faith.  But there’s no doubt but that Dr. Krauthammer has come to exactly the same conclusion I’ve been trumpeting forever at this blog:  making gay marriage a civil right protected by the Constitution will cause a headlong crash into the First Amendment’s promise that government will leave religious doctrine and practice alone.

I’m going to quote myself from March 2009, long before gay marriage got to the Supreme Court:

As you know, one of my main reasons for supporting Proposition 8, which amended the California constitution to define marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman, was because I believe that move to redefine marriage has the potential to put the State and religion organizations — especially the Catholic church — into a head-on collision.

Liberals, when confronted with this notion, will often argue that, while the Catholic Church objects to abortion, that’s never created a constitutional crisis.  What they ignore is the fact that, while the church is not in the business of providing abortions, it is in the business of providing marriages.  It also ignores the fact that abortion is a legal right, not a constitutional one, while gay marriage proponents have been framing it in the opposite way:  they say gay marriage as a constitutional, rather than a mere legal right.

Keep in mind that, for Catholics, marriage isn’t just a white dress, cake and Mendelssohn’s wedding march.  Instead, it’s a sacrament.  A basic tenet of the religion is the joining of man and woman before God.

So imagine this scenario:  Two men go to the local Catholic parish and demand that it marry them.  The priest, sympathetic to their love for each other, nevertheless states that he cannot, at a purely religious level marry them.  The men turn around and sue the Church for violating their Constitutional rights.  Suddenly, the judicial system is called upon to examine doctrinal issues to determine whether they mesh with Constitutional issues.  It’s a scary scenario for anyone who takes seriously the principle that government may not interfere with religious doctrine.

The only thing that’s changed now is that, thanks to ObamaCare, which requires that Catholic institutions pay for birth control and abortifacients, the Obama administration has already managed to create a Constitutional crisis with regard to abortion.  I hadn’t seen that one coming back in 2009.

Does charity begin in the home or in the State House?

With Paul Ryan shooting across the political sky with a blazing light, the Left is getting worried.  The latest attack is to trot out Catholics who claim that, because Paul Ryan objects to wealth redistribution, he’s anti-Catholic.  After all, say these Catho-Lefto pundits, what could be more generous than allowing the government to use its overwhelming police power to rob from the rich to give to the poor?  Not everyone is buying that, with some thoughtful people pointing out that, to the extent that charity is supposed to enrich the giver as much as the beneficiary, forcible redistribution fails completely at a moral level.

Incidentally, the fear that allowing the state to step in for charity dries up the individual conscience isn’t unfounded.  The numbers prove that fewer people practice personal altruism if the state does it for them.

Two Hollywood movies, made a decade apart, revel in the Church of Progressive Government

My husband and I are current watching The Ides of MarchThat I am staying awake during a movie that stars the bovine George Clooney, the insipid Ryan Gosling, the obscenity-spouting Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and the “I don’t get why he’s famous” Paul Giamatti and that, forty minutes into the movie, still has no discernible plot, testifies to my ovarian fortitude in the face of great mental suffering.  (I toyed with the idea of saying “testicular fortitude,” but decided it just didn’t work.)

Actually, there is a reason I’m struggling through this so-far pointless, plotless movie about a Democratic primary in Ohio.  I’m quote-gathering.  The very first lines in the movie piqued my interest.  Ryan Gosling speaks them, presumably while standing in for his employer and candidate, George Clooney, who later repeats those same words during a debate in which the opposing primary candidate challenges his religious beliefs:

I’m not a Christian. I’m not an Atheist. I’m not Jewish. I’m not Muslim. My religion, what I believe in is called the Constitution of United States of America.

If the above quotation sounds familiar to you, it should.  Although it’s not identical to a speech in the movie The Contender, it’s certainly similar in content.  In that movie, a Democrat Vice Presidential candidate who has been grossly slimed and maligned by evil Republicans, defends herself thusly:

And, Mr. Chairman, I stand for the separation of Church and State, and the reason that I stand for that is the same reason that I believe our forefathers did. It is not there to protect religion from the grasp of government but to protect our government from the grasp of religious fanaticism. Now, I may be an atheist, but that does not mean I do not go to church. I do go to church. The church I go to is the one that emancipated the slaves, that gave women the right to vote, that gave us every freedom that we hold dear. My church is this very Chapel of Democracy that we sit in together, and I do not need God to tell me what are my moral absolutes. I need my heart, my brain, and this church.

It sounds as if both those movies are saying “My religion is a Constitutional democracy,” but that’s not true.  If that were true, the Progressives writing, producing, and acting in these movies would be strict constructionists and, quite possibly, libertarians.

Instead, those quotations boil down to “My religion is government.”  Progressives’ faith in this religion is unswerving, and their doctrinal attitude as rigid as any that Torquemada supported.  The Church of Progressive Government requires unswerving fealty to abortion, welfare, open borders, redistribution of wealth (except for that wealth held by those Progressives who have already obtained great wealth and power), racial categorizations every bit as rigid as those practiced in the Old South, and continuous American obeisance to the other nations of the world.  Deviate from this doctrine and, even if you’re not stretched on a rack a la the Spanish Inquisition, as Corey Booker just learned, you are dead.

Religion is a harsh taskmaster, especially for those foolish enough to cross the true believers.

 

The Obama administration engages in full-out war against pro-Life people *UPDATED*

As others have commented, the Catholic Church is making the loudest noises about the new Obama Care mandate regarding birth control, abortifacients, and sterilization, but the policy is really a strike against everyone who is pro-Life in America.  If you’re a pro-Life employer, you have to pay for your employees’ abortion pills.  If you’re a pro-Life health insurance company (or health insurance company employee) you must write policies that cover every woman’s birth control, sterilization, and abortifacients.  If you are a health insurance consumer (as we all must be in Obama’s America), you will pay for abortions.

Anybody with a pro-Life conscience, even if that person has arrived at that position without benefit of organized religion, is in the line of fire.

But if you’re thinking that Obama is hostile to religion, you’re right about that too.  Check out the first update to the Anchoress’ post about the health care mandate, and you’ll see that Obama is starting to put the squeeze on in other areas when it comes to people of faith.

I’m hoping that hubris is driving the administration’s unpopular decisions now, in an election year.  To date, though, the administration has shown itself to be sufficiently Machiavellian that I wonder if it knows something about the upcoming elections that the rest of us don’t know.

UPDATE:  Oh, and for the pointedly humorous take on Obama’s policy stand, I know you’ll enjoy this.  I’ve come to the conclusion that we live in a very peculiar world, one that sees me, a loosey-goosey theist (sort of), deeply offended by the federal executive’s full force attacks on religious freedom in America.

(And please sign the petition.)

Using the First Amendment to nullify God — Air Force edition

There are no more aggressive religious proselytizers than atheists.  They sell their religion with ferocity and would willingly burn at the stake anyone who stands in their way.

Last I looked, the First Amendment prevented the government from creating a religion from above or interfering with someone’s religion.  It didn’t nullify God.

Apparently someone forgot to explain those simple constitutional facts to the suits running the Air Force:

The patch logo was changed after a military atheist group, the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, protested the reference to God on the patch. The patch has a saying on it in Latin, which is common for military patches, that tranlates [sic] to: “Doing God’s Work with Other People’s Money.”

The saying was then changed last month to say: “Doing Miracles with Other People’s Money.”

Open warfare between the Left and America might be a good and clarifying thing

We are now at the point of open warfare between the Left and the traditional Judeo-Christian faiths in America.  We all know that there’s long been a covert war, but it’s finally out in the open now.  As I’ve pointed out on my blog, this week alone, the open war has played out in the Susan G. Komen versus Planned Parenthood fight, the ObamaCare versus Catholic Church fight, and the gay activists versus any religion fight.  Now, we can add one (or maybe two) more to the list:  the Leftists and Muslims versus Christians at West Point attack, with, as a companion piece, the silencing of military chaplains.

West Point Chapel

A flurry of very high profile attacks might actually be a good thing.  Covert attacks are very difficult to defend against.  There are a lot of Cassandras in covert wars, people who realize what’s happen, but whose are disregarded on the ground that their confused or paranoid.  It’s only when war is well and truly declared that people get energized and are willing to man the barricades.

Cassandra prophesying

America is a religious nation.  Ordinary Joe and Josephine might be willing to sit in their recliners in the face of one or two of these attacks, showing the same inertia seen in Martin Niemöller’s famous “First they came. . . .” poem. These sustained attacks against all aspects of religion in public life, however, might make Joe and Josephine worry that they’re the next ones the government and its cohorts will come for.

Gay activists’ alleged attack on prayer, even if not true, highlights the Left’s profound animus to traditional Judeo-Christian religion

Cassie Jay is a young woman who makes unabashedly Leftist films.  Back, in 2010, she made a documentary called “Daddy I Do” that attacked abstinence-only education.  Even in liberal Marin, this movie caused a bit of a kerfuffle, as the local art cinema first agreed to show it, then backed off from that agreement, and then, when the liberal fit hit the media shan, finally agreed to show the movie.  The debate garnered headlines, and undoubtedly drew more people to the movie than would otherwise have attended.  My bet is that, at the end, a lot of people paid for tickets, not because they actually wanted to see her movie, but because they wanted to show solidarity.

Ms. Jay now contends that she’s stumbled into cultural clash, and she didn’t see this one coming at all.  On its face, Jay’s newest movie ought not to have ruffled any feathers on the Left.  It’s a straight down-the-line Progressive encomium for the virtues of gay marriage.  The Marin Independent Journal assures readers that her latest, “The Right to Love: An American Family,” is “a compelling case for legalizing gay marriage.”  Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.  I haven’t seen it yet — indeed, few have — so I’m not qualified to comment.

(Photo by Giovanni Dall’Orto)

Jay claims, however, that there are those in the gay community who have seen it and they are very unhappy with the movie.  You see, in addition to promoting gay marriage, which is a good thing, the gay activists watching the preview discerned a Christian subtext, which is a very bad thing indeed:

“The Right to Love,” which premieres Monday at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, focuses on the Leffew family of Santa Rosa, a legally married gay couple and their two adopted children. When the trailer was released this past fall, it included a scene of the family saying a Christian prayer at their breakfast table.

The reaction it unleashed from a segment of the gay community was angry and venomous, and caught Jaye off guard.

“It just erupted online,” she recalled. “It totally caught me by surprise. I was shocked by the backlash. All these LGBT (lesbian-gay-bixexual-transgender) people were attacking the Leffew family for being religious, saying, ‘How can you be a part of an institution that doesn’t see us as equals and thinks we’re an abomination? How can you be a member of that club?’ I never intended to include that prayer as a controversial issue, but there was a lot of hatred toward them being Christian.”

Here’s the incendiary trailer (the prayer shows up 38 seconds in):

As for me, I think this is a publicity stunt.  I scrolled through the 280 comments at the trailer and found a few comments to the effect that “religions should let us marry and they’re bad ’cause they don’t” stuff, but I don’t see any evidence of the firestorm Jay claims erupted over her film — more specifically, that she claims erupted because of that two second prayer scene in the trailer.  Unless Jay deleted all the hardcore anti-Christian comments as spam, they’re just not there.  I also did a couple of Google searches for the name of the film along with the words “Christian” and “religion” but, aside from several dozen sites singing rapturous praises about a pro-gay marriage movie, found only a few newspaper articles quoting Jay about the claimed firestorm.

I’m willing to acknowledge that my research skills may be abysmal, and that I’ve managed to miss the dozens of comments and posts in which activist gays threaten to burn crosses on the lawns of those gay families who are stupid enough to cling to Christianity.  I may also have a different idea of Jay as to what constitutes a truly controversial issue.  She may think one crackpot makes a controversy.  I don’t.

What’s rather amazing, though, is that Jay is promoting her film by pointing to a subject that has nothing to do with the film itself.  The film is about gay marriage.  There is a built-in audience for this movie.  Gays will see it.  Elites who want to prove their moral superiority on the issue will see it.  But Jay is promoting it, not by pointing to its substantive issues, but by talking up the fact that (according to her) many in the GLBT (or LGBT or whatever other order the letters should appear) community are no longer asking for religion to change.  Instead, they’re attacking religion at the root.  For her, this is a selling point.

Jay’s right, too, in her assessment that, in Obama-world, attacking religion is a selling point for any movie that one markets to the Left.  The Obama administration’s direct, frontal attack on the Catholic church (and other religious institutions) demonstrates as nothing else could that the Left, now that it holds two out of the three seats of power in American government, intends not to amend religion, or carve out secular exceptions, but to destroy it entirely.  Under the new ObamaCare mandate, the churches are left with only three choices all of which range from damaging to destructive:  they can deny their principles and provide insurance, which destroys them morally; they can refuse to provide the insurance, which will trigger penalties or lose them so many employees they’ll be destroyed financially; or they can simply shut down their outreach, which destroys their place in their community and the missions that are an intrinsic part of their doctrine.

Destruction of Damascus Christian Quarter, 1860

My guess is that Jay is astutely tuning into a strong cultural subtext roiling the Left in order to market her film.  Even if there is no fight between gay activists and religion, there ought to be, and she’s going to use that paradigm to broaden her audience beyond the Prop. 8 crowd.  She can expect to see attendance increase as those on the Left attend the film, either to show their solidarity with religion (Christ’s gospel is good, even if the church has perverted it) or to protest the fact that anyone in the LGBT (or GLBT) community would dare to ally itself with a hate-filled, archaic institution that should be destroyed, rather than reformed.

I think the saying is that, in show business, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

What do you think?

Nancy Pelosi — tough and confused about principles

David Axelrod’s talk yesterday included a shout-out to the lovable Nancy Pelosi, whom he feels is unfairly maligned by the Rushes of this world.  Per David, Nancy is not an effete San Francisco liberal.  Instead, she’s a tough political operative — for all the right, i.e., Progressive, reasons, of course — who was trained in her Dad’s old-fashioned, rough-and-tumble ward rooms.  He described with affection Nancy ramming her finger repeatedly in his chest when she felt he’d failed to deliver on something or other.

What a charmer.

I can readily believe Axelrod’s talk about Nancy’s toughness and finger strikes.  The “principled” part, though, is a little harder.  Isn’t this the woman who recently castigated Catholics for having “this conscience thing“?  Hmmm….  Conscience?  Principles?  They kind of seem like a matched set to me.

Just the other day, Pelosi again stumbled on her principles when she complained that Bishops who object to forcing Catholics to subsidize things that they think are morally evil (abortions, for example) are “lobbyists.”  The Anchoress has more on this one.  When I think of Nancy Pelosi and principles, I keep getting a mental image of Jon Lovitz doing his compulsive liar shtick.  “Yeah, principles.  That’s the ticket!”

Personal morality and responsibility

11B40 asked a good question, which is why I’m so focused on McQueary, when it was Sandusky who committed the crime.  It’s because I have no fellow feeling with Sandusky who, if the allegations are true, is a perverted monster.  I therefore don’t need to analyze my behavior or parenting decisions with regard to his conduct.  McQueary, however, is Everyman.  Each of us could be in his shoes.

McQueary’s response to a horrible, unexpected situation wasn’t perverse or illegal.  Instead, it was just the lowest common denominator of acceptable behavior that an ordinary human could commit.  I have within me the capacity to do exactly what he did — but I want to be better than that.  That’s why I’m also hammering away at columnists who explain what he did, not just to offer explanations, but also to excuse his conduct.  Like them, like all of us, I could be McQueary, but I don’t want to be McQueary.

Perhaps my obsession with this is also because I’m a parent in a morally challenging world, attempting to give my children moral lessons.  That hit home yesterday. As I hadn’t quite made it back to the house when my 12-year-old son got home from school, he called me, his voice trembling with unshed tears. “Mom, I have to tell you this. I need to confess. There was this old guy handing out little pocket Bibles at school [actually, next to the school, on non-school land]. Then, on the school bus home, one of the kids had candy and I wanted the candy and the kid said he’d give me the candy if I ripped up the Bible — and I did. Another boy threw a bunch of Bibles out the window.  I’m so sorry. I know what I did was wrong and I just had to tell you.”

When I got home, my son was still very upset, partially because he knew he’d done something wrong (both destroying a book and destroying a religious symbol) and partially because he was worried about getting expelled from school.  Without actually meaning to, I made him even more upset.  On my way back home after his call, I’d already called a friend whom I knew was taking her kids to a non-denominational youth night at the local church. I figured it would be good for my son immediately to go to a place where the book of God matters. When I mentioned I’d told her, he completely broke down, sobbing hysterically. “How could you? She won’t respect me any more.” (And I can’t tell you how glad I am to know that he realized that what he did would impair his standing in the eyes of the community.)

It got worse for my little guy when I opened my email and discovered an email from a friend and neighbor who didn’t know that my son had confessed, telling me about what happened and adding that several of the children on the bus were quite upset. “Oh, no! None of the parents will respect me anymore. This is horrible. I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t mean to destroy God’s property.” More sobbing. My son wrote our neighbor an abject apology for having committed an offensive act, and she sent a gracious reply.

I wasn’t pleased with what my son did, but I wasn’t angry at him.  It seemed to me that he was angry enough at himself.  He knew that he’d done an irresponsible and offensive act, although he did so foolishly and entirely without malice.  He also felt very keenly that what he had done might diminish him in the eyes of people he respects and whose respect he desires.

Indeed, I was quite pleased that he was upset and able to identify his own wrongdoing, rather than arrogant and dismissive.  He could have gone the other route:  “It’s just a book, and people who believe in it are stupid, and I should be able to rip up a book if I want, etc.”  That he didn’t, that he immediately realized he’d made a mistake, was a comforting reminder that my son is a fundamentally good person, who is simply a long way from maturity.  He is not, thank goodness, a punk or a sociopath.  A good (not angry or accusatory) talk about decency and respect, a total media blackout for two days, and a rather pleasant evening for him at a church youth group (he wants to go back) were, to my mind, entirely sufficient responses.

What was really interesting — and here we’re back at my whole obsession with McQueary and a society that passes the back and practices moral relativism — was the response from a liberal friend of mine.  Rather than acknowledging that my son had done something wrong, his ire was all focused on the old man who had handed out Bibles.

“That’s illegal.”  ”

No, it’s not.  He wasn’t on school property, and he wasn’t handing out anything that is illegal or that is prohibited to minors, such as drugs, alcohol, cigarettes or pornography.”

“Well, it ought to be illegal.  You can’t just hand out Bibles to people.”

“Um, actually, a little thing called the First Amendment says you can.”

He was shocked.

My friend’s next challenge was that handing out a Bible to school children was entrapment.

“That man was trying to entrap children.  He knew that most of them would throw it away and that boys would play with it.  There’s no difference between shredding it and throwing it in the garbage can.”

My friend was unconvinced when I pointed out that (a) the fact that many children on the bus were upset shows that treating a Bible with disrespect is not a natural or appropriate act and (b) that there is a difference between respectfully disposing of an unwanted item and deliberately destroying it in public view.  Intention matters.  And it was because intention matters that I was upset with my son for what he did, but I was neither angry nor perturbed.  His intentions weren’t blasphemous.  He just wanted candy.

Because issues such as this pop up in one form or another quite often when you have parents, you can see why I think long and hard about the messages we send our kids when it comes to right and wrong, and about responsibility to individuals and to society at large.

What do you all think, whether about my parenting decisions, about my McQueary tie-in, about societal messages, or anything else this post might have brought to mind?

Legislating religion to death

During the gay marriage debate, I mentioned to a lawyer friend of mine that gay marriage would inevitably set up a church versus state conflict if a church refused to marry a gay couple — especially the Catholic Church, which counts marriage amongst its sacraments.  My lawyer friend came back with what he thought was a brilliant riposte:  “Well, abortion hasn’t created a church versus state conflict.”  I reminded him, gently, that the church doesn’t perform abortions, it just advocates against them, but that it does in fact perform marriages.  He looked perplexed.  I didn’t press the point, believing that it was more useful for his thought process to marinate in the idea.

Will you be surprised to learn that the Anchoress has taken my narrow, shallowly expressed thought and delved into it much more deeply?  No?  I wasn’t surprised either.  Please read what the Anchoress has to say on constant Progressive legislation that undermines religion’s reach in America and, if you feel so inclined, come back here and talk about it with me.

Liam Neeson — great voice, little brain

Liam Neeson, who does the voice of Aslan the Lion in the Narnia movies, has upset people by claiming that Aslan could as easily be Allah or Buddha as he could be Christ:

Ahead of the release of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader next Thursday, Neeson said: ‘Aslan symbolises a Christ-like figure but he also symbolises for me Mohammed, Buddha and all the great spiritual leaders and prophets over the centuries.

‘That’s who Aslan stands for as well as a mentor figure for kids – that’s what he means for me.’

Apparently, despite providing Aslan’s voice, Neeson never read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, nor saw the movie, both of which are pretty accurate allegories for the crucifixion and resurrection.

Still, one can see where someone raised on a steady diet of cultural relativism might try to morph all religious figures into one big loving God-like thingie.   The problem is that C.S. Lewis explicitly rejected this approach in his last Narnia book.  Instead, he made it clear that there is only one God and that’s the Christian God.

In the Narnia series, my favorite book has come to be The Last Battle — which is the Biblical end of the world, Narnia style. Within that book, my favorite scenes take place after the Apocalypse, when the saved are in the Narnia version of Heaven.

When the heroes and heroines of past books arrive in their Heaven, they find there a Calormene. Caloremenes are Narnian’s arch enemies (and, interesting, given that the book was written in the 1950s, are clearly modeled on Muslims out of the Arabian nights). They reject Aslan (the Jesus figure) and instead worship Tash, an evil figure who is clearly meant to be the equivalent of Satan.  In other words, it’s highly probable that Lewis viewed Allah as a Satanic figure or, certainly, the un-God.

The Calormene’s presence in Heaven is, therefore, unexpected. It turns out, however, that the Calormene is an exceptionally honorable character who believes in Tash because he was raised to, but whose values are clearly in line with Aslan’s. Accordingly, when he arrives in Heaven, Aslan welcomes him, assuring him that all of his good acts by-passed Tash and were accorded directly to Aslan — hence his place in Heaven.

Lewis’ point, of course, is that the Christian God — Aslan or Jesus — focuses on man’s acts and is readily able to separate the wheat from the chaff. True religions encourage good behavior, but it is up to God in the afterlife to determine whether any individual actually “got it right” in terms of moral choices. God also has sufficient self-assurance to accept that some might not appear to accord him the proper respect on earth, because God looks at deep acts and beliefs, not superficial behaviors.

So Liam Neeson is totally wrong when he tries to morph Aslan/Jesus/Christian God into some generic good deity.  In the C.S. Lewis world, God is always God.  The only question is whether we humans have met his standards, not whether he has met ours.

Wolf Howling synthesizes so much information about the attack on the Catholic Church

Wolf Howling has put together just a stellar post about the ongoing attacks on the Catholic church (along with a very nice link to yours truly).  If this is a subject that interests you — and it should, whether or not you’re a Catholic, because it goes to attacks on a pillar of Western civilization — I urge you to check it out.

The attack on the church continues apace; or, so that’s why he became a priest! *UPDATED*

The media is making hay of the pedophilia scandal involving the Catholic Church.  I think that Leftists see issue this as the single brick, down at the bottom of the wall, that, if pulled at hard enough, will bring the whole edifice tumbling down.

Just as Jews are persecuted because they symbolize justice (whether or not individual Jews can always attain those standards) so too is the modern Catholic church vigorously attacked because it symbolizes morality (again, regardless of individual failures).  A Leftist society cannot tolerate either of those symbols, both of which might give people the idea that a totalitarian government is neither just nor moral.

But the attack is working.  The haters are coming out of the woodwork.  On my facebook page, liberal friend after liberal friend attacks the Church.  Today, several people focused on the fact that, today of all days, the Church had the temerity to focus its Easter observances on . . . well, Easter.  How can the church be silent, asked my friends, about the scandal on this day of all days?  Well, maybe because, on this day of all days, they were focusing on a bigger, core issue — such as the central religious tenet of Christ’s resurrection.

What’s even worse are the comments I’m seeing that essentially say that the sole reason men have become priests throughout the church’s history is to indulge in their lust for small children.  Bet you didn’t know that.  I certainly didn’t.  I always thought men joined the priesthood for a variety of reasons:  deep faith, poverty (certainly true in the Middle Ages), etc.  But I was entirely wrong.  The Left knows better:  The only reason men become priests is to molest small children.

You may feel free to embroider on this post in the comment section, below.  As for me, I’m speechless.

UPDATE: I knew that hearing from you all would stimulate my creative juices, so I wanted to add a little more here.

There is no doubt that bad people will be attracted to the priesthood for the wrong reasons.  But what’s happening is that this attack imputes evil and wrongness to everyone who is attracted to the priesthood.  I find that simply dreadful.  The comments you all wrote go exactly to that point — and to the way this witch hunt (and that’s what it is) is being used to destroy individuals and an entire institution.

Part of the problem is, I think, that in our highly sexualized culture, people are unable to acknowledge that there are others out there, men and women, who aren’t interested in sex — whether with people of the same or the opposite sex.  It’s just not important to them.  The suspicion, therefore, is that celibacy must inevitably twist people, or that it’s always a lie, and only twisted people will engage in that pretense.

I find the whole thing upsetting.  As a Jew, I’ve had my issues with the historic Catholic church, but as a conservative, and a rational thinker (and a Jew in the post-JPII era), I think it is an important institution that stands as a bulwark against anarchy, both moral and spiritual.

UPDATE II: One of my favorite Catholic writers (hey, one of my favorite writers generally) is Patrick O’Hannigan.  He too is dismayed by the combination of venom and intellectual dishonesty liberal bastions are aiming at the Catholic church.

Another example of how liberals teach our children — even when they’re unclear on the concepts themselves

Readers of my blog know that one of my personal bête noires is liberal indoctrination in public schools.  I blog about it frequently.  My last outing on that subject was here, and I’ll get back to that in a little bit.  First, though, I’d like you to see how one public school teacher saw fit to educate American children about America’s involvement in WWII, as well as the response of one politely appalled man who was actually involved in the historic moment at issue.

Not only is this kind of indoctrination par for the course, it’s produced at least one generation of people who can throw out conclusions to their heart’s content, but are incapable of backing them up with common sense or actual knowledge.  And that’s how we wrap around to that post of mine that I mentioned earlier.  If you link over to it, you’ll see that I spoke with my daughter about a teacher’s facile and ill-educated assertion that “all civilized countries” have socialized medicine.

I carefully led my daughter through a few fairly uncomplicated facts.  A lot of uncivilized countries (North Korea, Cuba, the former Soviet Union) have socialized medicine.  I also pointed out what is undoubtedly true, which is that those countries with socialized medicine cannot maintain them.  They work well initially when a big chunk of taxpayer money is poured into them, but that they then go downhill:  they don’t generate revenue themselves and, since they suck up wealth, they leave the taxpayer pool less wealthy and therefore less able to pay for them.  This isn’t rocket science and, more importantly, it’s not ivory tower theory — it’s actual real world fact, as proven by real world, actual events.

What’s interesting is what happened with my post when it got picked up on a liberal thread at reddit.com (the thread is entitled “libertarian” but it’s clearly not, as the tenor of the comments indicates).  The liberals are very angry at what I wrote, but they don’t have substance to back up their anger.  Lots of insults, lots of conclusions, but no facts and no coherent, sustained argument.  Here are a few comments, plus my replies:

Wow, there is actually book that describes why the mother is an idiot, it is called Economics 101 – look in to it.  [Insult, conclusion; no argument.]

Also, dear mother: You do realize you already pay for the uninsured, right? You just pay 20 times as much as you should. Why is this not considered a tax?  [Boy is s/he unclear on free market concepts.  If the market wasn't stultified by thousands of government regulations, not to mention the perverse incentives of mass buying by employers, there shouldn't be uninsured.  Also, I don't think I should be for the 30% of uninsured who are illegal aliens under any circumstances.]

***

Unfortunately, this kind of overly simplistic thinking is exactly why the tea party has no credibility. As cutesy as the exchange is, “Momma” didn’t address the fact that universal health care is working in many countries in Europe (not that it’s sustainable, but that’s not that point).  [I'm delighted this person thinks I'm cute, but the fact is that if universal health care is unsustainable, it's not working in Europe, no matter how much you wish it was.  As it sucks money out of the economy, the initial benefit vanishes, with the health care system in Britain the perfect example.   You don't need a Harvard PhD to figure that one out.]

Not only that, but the link that was posted at the end about the girl getting the abortion:

a) has absolutely nothing to do with the exchange about health care. b) I don’t see why the girl should be forced to tell her parents…we should be expanding the rights of the youth, not restricting them.  [Had the person read my post, s/he would have realized that it was relevant, as I explained, because it goes to the way in which public high schools indoctrinate students, right to the point where they bypass parents entirely when it comes to political hot topics such as abortion.]

tl;dr? As a hardcore libertarian, I think this article reeks of sensationalist neocon.  [Uh, I don't read hardcore libertarian here.  I read Progressive troll.]

***

That was a lot of stupid in one place. Too bad the teacher did not point out that the CBO said that the bill saves money, not costs money. [Where to begin.  Here, perhaps.  The person also doesn't understand that the CBO was forced to work with the numbers that Congress used as predicates for the bill, rather than actual real world costs.  Even with that, as Paul Ryan carefully explained, the bill is affordable only because of accounting jiggery-pokery and because of deferred costs.] Perhaps they are wrong, but that mom had better go over the figures and say where they are wrong. Then the teacher could point out how the bill helps small businesses get health care for employees. Then there was that deep dishonesty that North Korea having universal health care, both false and distracting from Europe and Canada and all that.  [All communist countries have universal health care because they have no private enterprise.  To the extent there is any health care, it comes from the government.  Of course, perhaps what this person meant is that North Korea has no health care at all, because the government has run out of money and the people are eating dirt.]

Insults, conclusions, false facts, ignorance — what are they teaching young people nowadays?

UPDATE:  If you’ve come this far in the post, you’ll know that the history teacher who put a unique spin on WWII history had edited the iconic Iwo Jima photograph to turn the flag into a McDonald’s arch with Arabic writing.  Perhaps that teacher was educated at the same schools as our president who managed, in his Easter message, to edit Jesus Christ out entirely, including the part in which he quoted from a WWII pastor.  (See also Flopping Aces, which tipped me off to this one, and which adds some more information.)

I understand that the president of a multicultural United States must be careful not to speak in such overtly religious terms that he sounds more as if he’s giving a sermon, than a speech.  One cannot avoid, however, the fact that Easter is a Christ centered religion.  (Unless, of course, Obama is actually celebrating the Pagan rite of spring which involved fertility goddesses and suchlike.)  For Obama, who professes to be a Christian to edit Christ out entirely from a message that should, in theory, resonate personally with Obama, is somewhat surprising.

Raise your hand if you believe Obama actually prays with his Blackberry *UPDATED*

Shortly after I started practicing law, the California State Bar decided mandated that all lawyers must comply with annual “Minimum Continuing Legal Education” (“MCLE”) requirement.  I was instantly incensed, because it was immediately obvious to me that this had nothing to do with improving the practice of law and everything to do with providing a permanent customer base for organizations providing class content.

Big firms were allowed to offer “in house” MCLE, which, depending on the firm, could mean a beautifully structured education program or just a hoary old partner standing before a room full of bored associates droning on about his past trial victories.  Either approach would be sufficient to fulfill the Bar’s requirements.  For those without the big firm outlet, MCLE meant going into the market place.

Lawyers with pricey practices at their back would take the same cool seminars (these, for example) that they intended to take anyway.  These seminars are expensive, averaging about $100 per MCLE hour.

Those lawyers without a lot of money at their back hunted around for affordable MCLE, costing between $12 and $25 per hour.  A marketplace did spring up for these seminars, and I can tell you something about them:  they’re awful.  They’re a giant con aimed at satisfying a blanket requirement from a regulatory agency.  Fortunately, as the decades have passed, more and more of these awful ones have gone on line, which means you can run them in the background with the volume off or fill out the “tests” with the answers online open before you, and fulfill your requirement.  No learning necessary; just pay your fees, ignore the stupid content, and play the bureaucratic game.

At this point, you’re wondering what in the world this has to do with Barack Obama, right?

Well, it has to do with the emerging truth that this “religious” man who spent two decades in the pews of a church devoted to a religion centered on black self-aggrandizement, antisemitism, and hatred for whites and America, just can’t seem to find a satisfactory church in church-rich Washington, D.C.  To offset this problem, he’s turned to technology:

So when he needs a little inspiration in the mornings, Mr Obama revealed today that all he has to do is read the daily prayer emailed to him from pastors around America.

‘It’s a wonderful thing,’ the president said of his hi-tech devotionals.

I’m perfectly willing to believe that Obama does indeed get prayers emailed to his handheld.  I have serious doubts that he reads them.  I suspect that, like the lawyers buying their cheap and useless MCLE hours, Obama goes through the charade without any intention of dealing with the substance.

UPDATEHot Air catches Obama explaining that his wonderfulness is the reason no ordinary church can hold him.

Mitt Romney is back on the political map

In 2008, I strongly supported Romney.  I liked his cheerful attitude (somewhat Reaganesque, although he clearly lacks the Great Communicators verbal abilities); I loved the fact that, in both the public and private sector, he has an incredible track record of being effective; and I really appreciated his money savvy.  I agree with many that he made a huge mistake when he oversaw Massachusett’s socialized medicine plan, and I think he would do himself a favor right now, today, if he would admit that he learned from the experience and won’t make that mistake again.

Well, Romney’s back again.  No one doubts that he was one of the quiet forces behind Scott Brown’s overwhelmingly successful campaign, and he’s now trying to be a force behind his own political resurgence.  The time may well be right for him.  In a time of continuing economic disaster, his financial history is going to be very useful.

I also suspect that his Mormonism won’t be as much of a problem today as it was in 2008.  Between a socialist with Muslim leanings who clearly dislikes America and wants to debase it, and a solid capitalist Mormon who is tremendously patriotic, some people are just going to have to hold their noses for the good of the nation.  If Mitt is making a religious error, he’ll have to answer to God — although I firmly believe (because I have to) that God is forgiving of those who live righteous lives even if they get entangled in the wrong doctrine.

On this doctrinal point, I’m not alone in my thinking.  The great Christian scholar, C.S. Lewis, thought so too.  In his book The Last Battle, which envisions an apocalyptic battle between the Christian West (the Narnians, who worship the lion Aslan) and the Muslim East (the Calormenes, who worship Tash), Lewis envisions how Aslan would receive a righteous Calormene on the day of judgment.  Here speaks the Calormene, who has been taught that Aslan and Tash are one, questioning Aslan on the subject:

I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one?  The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false.  Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou has done to him.  For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be dome to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him.  Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him.  And if any man do a curelty in my name, then, thought he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted.

At this moment in political time (and political time changes with unusual rapidity), Romney is head and shoulders above many, if not most, who are currently on the scene.  He is certainly leagues away from the current White House occupant when it comes to experience, judgment, instinct, skills, and love for his country.  I wish him well in his political pursuits.

The President’s religious desire to reverse Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

On the subject of the “secular humanism religion” that guides liberals, it’s informative to read this quotation from William Kristol, writing about Obama’s sudden imperative need to do away with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the American military:

But the repeal is something that Obama campaigned on. He believes in it. But with all due respect to his sincerely held if abstractly formed views on this subject, it would be reckless to require the military to carry out a major sociological change, one contrary to the preferences of a large majority of its members, as it fights two wars. What’s more, it isn’t a change an appreciable number of Americans are clamoring for. And even if one understood this change to be rectifying an injustice, the fact is it’s an injustice that affects perhaps a few thousand people in a nation of 300 million.

But, “It’s the right thing to do,” said the president.

Here is contemporary liberalism in a nutshell: No need to consider costs as well as benefits. No acknowledgment of competing goods or coexisting rights. No appreciation of the constraints of public sentiment or the challenges of organizational complexity. No sense that not every part of society can be treated dogmatically according to certain simple propositions. Just the assertion that something must be done because it is in some abstract way “the right thing.”

In other words, although the liberal’s faith doesn’t derive from God, it’s a faith all the same.  The only difference is that liberals, because their unnamed God is the government itself, have no problem crossing the Constitutional dividing line and using the coercive power of government to force people to worship at their shrines.

For a cogent discussion of the practical problems that repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would create, read J.E. Dyer’s article and her earlier post on the subject.  And for a revealing look at the military bureaucracy’s lumbering agreement to comply with the President’s ill-thought out wishes, check this out, at the Daily Caller.

Illegal immigrants, gay rights, gun safety, and other stuff *UPDATED*

This is a portmanteau post, filled with interesting things I read today, some of which come in neatly matched sets.

Opening today’s San Francisco Moronicle, the first thing I saw was that an illegal teen’s arrest is causing a stir in San Francisco’s halls of power.  You see, San Francisco is a sanctuary city, and its official policy is to refuse to allow police to notify the federal government when arrestees prove to be illegal immigrants.  As has happened before, one of those nice legal illegal immigrants is, in fact, a cold-blooded murderer.  This particular 15 year old is accused of having held the two victims in place so that his compadres c0uld execute them.  The hoo-ha is happening because someone in City government, disgusted by the legal travesty that encourages people like this to make themselves free of our cities and our country, reported the kid to the INS, which is now on the case.  The liberals in the City ask “How dare a San Francisco employee help enforce federal immigration law?” My question, of course, is a little different:  “Why doesn’t the fed withdraw every single penny of funding from sanctuary cities?”  After all, I was raised to believe that he who pays the piper calls the tune.

As you’re thinking about the above travesty of law and justice (and the two dead kids executed in San Francisco), take a few minutes to read this American Thinker article about California’s self-immolation, a Democratic autodestruct sequence driven, in part, by the state’s embrace of illegal immigrants.  Illegal immigrants place a huge economic burden on California’s already over-taxed individuals and businesses.

The next Moronicle article that drew my eye was about the ongoing Prop. 8 trial taking place in San Francisco.  As you recall, Prop. 8 reflected the will of California voters, who wanted to affirm that marriage is between a man and a woman.  Prop. 8′s opponents are trying to prove that voters had impure thoughts when they cast their ballots, making the entire proposition an illegal exercise of unconstitutional prejudice.  Prop. 8 backers are arguing that you can support traditional marriage (as President Obama has claimed to do), without harboring bad thoughts about the GLBT community.

As you think about the ramifications of that lawsuit, I’d like to introduce you to Chai R. Feldblum, who is President Obama’s nominee to the EEOC.  She has a law professor at Georgetown, who really thinks that people’s brains should be purged of evil thoughts, especially evil religious thoughts:

Chai Feldblum, the Georgetown University law professor nominated by President Obama to serve on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, has written that society should “not tolerate” any “private beliefs,” including religious beliefs, that may negatively affect homosexual “equality.”

[snip]

“Just as we do not tolerate private racial beliefs that adversely affect African-Americans in the commercial arena, even if such beliefs are based on religious views, we should similarly not tolerate private beliefs about sexual orientation and gender identity that adversely affect LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] people,” the Georgetown law professor argued.

Feldblum’s admittedly “radical” view is based on what she sees as a “zero-sum game” between religious freedom and the homosexual agenda, where “a gain for one side necessarily entails a corresponding loss for the other side.”

“For those who believe that a homosexual or bisexual orientation is not morally neutral, and that an individual who acts on his or her homosexual orientation is acting in a sinful or harmful manner (to himself or herself and to others), it is problematic when the government passes a law that gives such individuals equal access to all societal institutions,” Feldblum wrote.

“Conversely, for those who believe that any sexual orientation, including a homosexual or bisexual orientation, is morally neutral, and that an individual who acts on his or her homosexual or bisexual orientation acts in an honest and good manner, it is problematic when the government fails to pass laws providing equality to such individuals.”

Feldblum argues that in order for “gay rights” to triumph in this “zero-sum game,” the constitutional rights of all Americans should be placed on a “spectrum” so they can be balanced against legitimate government duties.

All beliefs should be equal, regardless of their source, Feldblum says. “A belief derived from a religious faith should be accorded no more weight—and no less weight—than a belief derived from a non-religious source.” According to Feldman, the source of a person’s belief – be it God, spiritual energy, or the five senses – “has no relevance.”

[snip]

Feldblum does recognize that elements of the homosexual agenda may infringe on Americans’ religious liberties. However, Feldblum argues that society should “come down on the side” of homosexual equality at the expense of religious liberty. Because the conflict between the two is “irreconcilable,” religious liberty — which she also calls “belief liberty” — must be placed second to the “identity liberty” of homosexuals.

“And, in making the decision in this zero sum game, I am convinced society should come down on the side of protecting the liberty of LGBT people,” she wrote.

I don’t think Harry Truman would have understood or appreciated Feldblum’s effort to quash religious freedom in the U.S.  He was someone who was able to separate his acts from his prejudices in all the right ways.  As I like to tell my children, he was a racist who integrated the American military; and an anti-Semite who helped create the State of Israel.

I believe all people should be treated equally under the law.  I do not believe, though, that this means that religions should be wiped out, or that Americans should be subject to the thought-police so that their impure ideology is brought in line with the identity politics of the left.  I believe most Americans are capable of being Harry Truman:  that is, they can recognize that their own personal prejudices against a lifestyle, a skin color or a religion, cannot be elevated to legal doctrine.  One of my problems with Islamists is that they’re no Harry Trumans.  They want to do away with the rule of law and, instead, substitute their 6th Century desert theocratic code.

Moving on, at this weekend’s soccer games, the other moms and I were speaking about a gal who is quite possibly the worst teacher in middle school.  She’s a lousy teacher, which is bad enough, but one can layer over that the fact that she is vindictive, mean-spirited and lazy.  Everyone I know has vociferously complained about her to the school administration.  And yet there is is.  She’s too young to have tenure, so I asked, rhetorically, why don’t they just fire her?  One mom’s answer told everything we need to know:  “The union makes it impossible to fire people.”

At least one union leader, at least, is trying to make it so that the American Federation of Teachers is less of a tyrannical dictatorship holding children as hostage, and more of an institution aimed at helping to educate children.  I don’t think Randi Weingarten is going to turn unions around, nor will she much change my opinion of unions.  Historically, I think unions were necessary and important.  In certain low-wage, low-skill, low-education fields (meat packing springs to mind), I still think they’re potentially useful.  Overall, though, I have a deep dislike for unions that goes back to my dad’s years as a member of the various teachers’ unions controlling California public schools.  The unions did minimal work helping to raise my Dad’s wage (he earned $21,000 annually in 1987, the year he retired), but were excellent at (1) kick-backs to administrators, who got great wages; (2) beginning what became the profound devaluation in the quality of California’s education; and (3) making sure that bad, insane and malevolent teachers were impossible fire.

Other unionized businesses are just as bad.  Hospital worker unions make a certain amount of sense.  The 24 hour a day nature of a hospital makes it easy to abuse nurses and other care givers.  However, when I was a young college student who got a summer job in the virology lab (an interesting time, since AIDS was first appearing on the radar as a series of bizarre diseases in gay men), I took over for a secretary who was leaving on maternity leave.  Although a secretary, she was unionized too, which explained why, despite disposing of old sandwiches in her file cabinet, and being incapable of getting her researcher bosses to the medical publishers (a primary part of her job description), she could not be fired.  This was not for want of trying.  It was simply that the unions had made it impossible to fire people like her.  They’d also made it impossible to fire people like the nurse I had many years later who, the first night after I’d had major abdominal surgery, refused to give me any painkillers and isolated me from any other caregivers.  Apparently I had said something that offended her.  Sadly, this was not her first time playing this kind of sadistic game.  But there she was, thanks to the unions.

On a more cheerful note, guns don’t kill people, guns rescue people from sinking cars.

And lastly, Steve Schippert highly recommends today’s Daily Briefing at Threats Watch, so I do too.

UPDATE:  Please visit A Conservative Lesbian for a thoughtful take on the nexus between religious belief and gay rights.  No knee jerk liberalism here; instead, a good analysis about religious freedom and minority rights.

One Old Testament — Two Interpretations

It’s always interesting to hear my husband, a militant atheist, and me, a respectful agnostic/atheist, talk about the Bible to the kids.  Today, my husband tackled the story of the sacrifice of Isaac.  He told the kids that the whole point of the story is to remind religious people that they have to be blindly obedient to their God, no matter how evil or wrong his commands are.  I told the kids that it’s a stunningly important story, since it marked the beginning of the end of human sacrifice.

My husband has a different view of the story of Exodus too.  He refuses to celebrate Passover, because he says it commemorates the genocide of the Egyptians.  While it is certainly troubling that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart to the point where the Egyptian First Born had to die (a neat parallelism, of course, to Pharaoh’s decision to kill the Jewish First Born), the fact is that Jews, for thousands of years, have celebrated Passover as a story of freedom — it’s the world’s first recorded slave revolt.  As celebrated, it isn’t a blood-thirsty tale of murder but is, instead, a story about Mose’s personal redemption, and about individual dignity and liberty.  It’s also a story about overarching human emotions:  self-sacrifice, greed, fear, etc.  Or, I guess, if you want to see it that way, it’s a story about genocide.

There are many troubling stories in the Bible, whether Dinah’s brothers slaughtering a whole town, Lot offering to throw his daughters to a rape-made crowd, or even the story of the circumcision of Moses’ son.  What’s striking about the Judeo-Christian tradition is that these religions have looked at these stories, some of which reach far back in pre-history, and have rejected their randomness and violence.  In the Judeo-Christian tradition, we tell these stories, but we keep our life lessons focused on justice and morality.  Just as it’s troubling that modern Muslims take literally Mohamed’s most violent prejudices and prescriptions, so too is it sad that atheists look at the Bible and see only a book of evil.

The perilous state of religion in England

Two views of moral behavior, one from the source, and one from an English divine:

God:  Thou shalt not steal.  (Exodus 20:15)

A priest in England:  It is far better for people desperate during the recession to shoplift than turn to ‘prostitution, mugging or burglary’.

It is true that, under Jewish law, Jews in extremis are allowed to violate God’s rules.  The doctrine, known as “pikuach nefesh,” literally translates as “saving of human life.”  During the Holocaust, for example, rabbis explicitly told fellow Jews that they could violate kosher laws rather than starve to death.  Significantly, however, pikuach nefesh is not a free pass for immorality.  Instead, it must apply on a case by case basis, and the person to whom it applies must indeed be facing a mortal threat.

When an Anglican priest throws out wholesale advice to parishioners that it’s okay to go out and shoplift, and then justifies that advice it by saying that “God’s love for the poor outweighs his love for the rich,” he is not practicing pikuach nefesh.  He is practicing redistribution of wealth.

Something’s missing this season

Don Quixote and I were at the local mall.  The mall was getting ready for the shopping season, and it has some special events planned.  It even had a sign:

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If you’re like DQ and me, you realize that something is missing from the sign:  there’s no mention of the actual holiday being celebrated, with the exception of a reference to some guy named Santa and a title allocated to December 24th — Christmas Eve.  Otherwise, we’re simply assured there are events going on to celebrate something, but we’re never told what the something is.

As a Jewish kid (admittedly, non -eligious, but definitely still Jewish), who grew up in a majority Christian culture that wasn’t embarrassed about showing itself, I adored the blessings of beautiful music, lovely images, and general joie de vivre.  At school, I learned all the carols, religious and secular, and can still belt them out with the best of them.  My kids know only Frosty, Rudolph, and Jingle Bells — good songs all, but such a minute fraction of the rich Christmas repertoire.  It’s only through their involvement in choral groups that they’re being exposed to the beautiful things men and women created as part of their religious celebrations and faith.

I’ll leave you with an antidote to the above sign, and an urge that you wish your friends a “Merry Christmas,” as well a happy or merry “whatever it is that they celebrate” this holiday season.  And if your friends are like me, they’ll appreciate the fact that, in America, people share their holiday celebrations without rancor or pressure.