Thursday, October 30, 2008

Godless Americans? -OR- "Perfect Love Drives out all Fear"

This video should replace the definition of desperation.

**UPDATE - Kay Hagan responds to Dole's attack ad:

Be Not Afraid

by Jim Wallis 10-30-2008
from Sojourners

In the final days of this election campaign, a new message has emerged. For the entire political year, the overriding theme has been change—with each candidate competing to be the real champion for a new direction. With 80 percent of Americans unhappy with our country’s current direction, it seemed that no other theme could break through.

A new message has, and it is this: “Be Afraid— Be Very Afraid.” Most of that fear is directed at Barack Obama, the leading candidate with just days to go before November 4. Instead of being content to offer a competing policy vision to Obama’s, the Right has now focused on the man himself in an attempt to stir the fears of the electorate that “he” is not really like “them.” “Do we really know who Barack Obama is?” has been the refrain of partisan peddlers. A parallel and ugly national innuendo campaign stokes the fear. Is he a Muslim? An Arab? A pal of terrorists? Or maybe even a closet Socialist? Where did he grow up? Why such a funny middle name? Doesn’t his support come from those parts of the country (and those people) that deep down inside are anti-American? And, of course, what has quickly become a campaign classic—guilt by association.

The fact that Barack Obama is the first black nominee of a major party for president gives all the fear a decidedly racial undertone. YouTube has quickly become populated with video after video of the dark underbelly of American fear and racism. The innuendos and rumors have brought to the surface latent fears and thinly veiled biases that many had hoped were gone from our country. The message of fear is the same: Obama may look okay on the surface, but we don’t know what might lie beneath.

Regardless of whether one favors Obama or McCain, this development should be of concern to all Americans, and especially people of faith. There is now a new spiritual dimension to this election, and it is decidedly evil. Christians believe that “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear…” (1 John 4:18.) There are, of course, good and decent motivations to vote either way in this election. Strong people of faith will be marking different boxes on Election Day, but for people of faith there will be a spiritual decision to be made as well. Will we put our trust in the power of fear or hope?

Conservatism did this with the bright and hopeful theme of “Morning in America” with the Ronald Reagan years. I disagreed with most all of Reagan’s agenda, but his appeal was to ask us all to choose hope, not fear. Similarly, the best of liberalism was seen in the power of John and Robert Kennedy’s appeal to build a “newer world.” Both conservatives and liberals can appeal to the better instincts of the American people, or to their worst—and each side has done both over the years.

Fear has always been the dark side of American politics, and we are seeing its resurgence in the campaign’s final days. Demagoguery has come from both the right and the left in America, and the most dependable sign of it is the appeal to fear over hope. Facts don’t matter when fear takes over. Fear covers over the debate on a candidate’s tax plans, the wisdom of their foreign policies, their experience and judgment to handle the economic crisis. Fear attacks character and lies with false prophecies of what a candidate would do if they are elected.

Some of the worst fear-mongering has sadly come from leaders of the Religious Right who are worried about losing their control over the votes of the evangelical and Catholic communities, especially a new generation of believers. Their apocalyptic rhetoric has been among the worst and most irresponsible. When religious leaders sound so desperate and seek to stoke fear and hate, they have lost their theological perspective by putting too much of their hope in having political power. It is that loss of power and control which seems to be motivating the current campaign of desperation and fear now being waged by so many conservatives. Instead, scripture points to a better way:

For “Those who desire life and desire to see good days, let them keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking deceit; let them turn away from evil and do good; let them seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:10-15, emphasis added)

With that reminder that Christ is our ultimate hope, let us pray that, on November 4, the need for change will finally prevail over the appeals to fear. Pray that the voters will choose either Barack Obama or John McCain as the best agent of change, rather than submit to the tyranny of fear. It is always better to live (and to vote) in the light of hope than in the darkness of fear. It is always an act of faith to believe that, in the end, hope will prevail over fear. So pray, and vote.

{SIDE NOTE: It's not just the "dark underbelly" of America that still holds racial prejudice. Rather, it effects us all to different degrees.

What? Me Biased?

Published: October 29, 2008

"For the last year and a half, a team of psychology professors has been conducting remarkable experiments on how Americans view Barack Obama through the prism of race.

The scholars used a common research technique, the implicit association test, to measure whether people regarded Mr. Obama and other candidates as more foreign or more American. They found that research subjects — particularly when primed to think of Mr. Obama as a black candidate — subconsciously considered him less American than either Hillary Clinton or John McCain."

Continue reading article here:

Take the test yourself & choose the Obama/McCain IAT test:

I scored the following:
- Your data suggests no automatic preference for White people over Black people
- Your data suggests a moderate automatic preference for Barack Obama over John McCain

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The real "Gotcha" media

In this video receiving a remarkable amount of attention despite it's unremarkableness, Biden makes the point clear that Obama's ony taking about returning us to the Clinton era tax rates with a further cut in the middle class. Was Clinton a Marxist too? If we're going to start throwing labels out there and go down to the letter, then we should probably get rid of those socialist programs like Medicare and Social Security,...or those new nationalized banks we just bought up, ...oh wait that was Bush.

This is running on desperate from Drudge and FoxNews who are making a big deal of it. The reporter laid out a bunch of rhetorical questions that are straight out of John McCain and Sarah Palin's stump speeches. The reporter's bio on her site shows she's a major republican supporter, family donates thousands to RNC. Surely it's just a coincidence that her husband is a GOP MEDIA CONSULTANT! And on Thursday she asked McCain a set of softballs. But look, tough questions are great, but not if some of them are 100% false or aim to equate the Democratic candidate for president with Karl Marx. There's no equivalence between the Obama tax plan and Marxism. Have the Republicans been taking cues from McCarthy? Biden kept his cool in the face of some really woefully ignorant questions, that were obviously taken from talking points. What’s actually newsworthy is Biden’s elegance at disposing of the wingnuttery so frankly. If she had more time she probably would have asked for “a penetrating expose on who is an anti-American in Congress"!

I will agree on one thing though; it does seem a bit silly for the campaign to have said in response to the interview that Jill Biden wouldn't appear on the show next week. So the lady asked some stupid questions; so she's a tool for an agenda; Jill's a big girl and could have taken advantage of the opportunity.

But since just two days ago the PA McCain campaign told 75K jewish voters that if they voted Obama they could be repeating the same steps that led to the Holocaust, I guess a Marxist or socialist charge isn't the worst they have done.

How I wish this all had gone:
Anchor: Senator Biden, what do you say to the people who think that Barack Obama likes to rape kittens while feasting on the entrails of Republican virgins that were sacrificed at the Satanic Marxist altar built by the Democrats using money that Acorn stole, with the help of Willam Ayers, from old white women?

Joe Biden: [cuts a bitch]

Funny how things change:

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Systematic Theology of Modern Mainline Evangelical Christianity in America

*note: what you are about to read is a caricature based upon isolated realities. It is tounge-in-cheek and meant only to spur polemical debate, not to flame.

The Bible is a book of absolute statements (absolutely understood by the reader) to be read in piecemeal segments used to identify who is "other"** and what the other is doing wrong and to determine the physical and spiritual fate or should be fate of the other. It's secondary use is to help the reader feel better about themselves or "encourage" them in their current path. The only statements that should be read and taught are those that accomplish this goal and can be most easily understood and espoused by the reader (i.e., John 3:16, Phil 4:13, some of the 10 Commandments, or the ones about abortion, evolution and the gays).

2. The aforementioned minutia of Biblical teachings will make up 10% of one's belief system. 50% will come from the culture of your first 18 years of life (anything learned after these years is to be mistrusted, especially if it is learned in a college or university or other institution of higher learning [*Bible colleges excluded] & universities are solely useful as issuers of passports to privilege). 10% will come from Fox News, Drudge Report & talk radio (avoid NPR). 10% from music & television (top 40, Christian radio, & nu-country are excellent truth tellers). 10% from commercials & advertisements (Mama's got the magic of Clorox Bleach). The final source would be 10% from friends that share the previous 90%.

3. Any teaching that is presented that goes against one's personal happiness or belief should be regarded as relative, figurative or misunderstood. If these options are not possible then cognitive dissonance should be employed to dizzying effect (Anything that looks communistic or confronts one's ideas, interests, or allegiance to country should be discounted most quickly & Remember, self-sacrifice is Jesus's job...or the troops).

4. Doctrine can best be understood in bumper sticker form and is a sociological trend (see also #1).

5. The heart (or gut) is always to be trusted above the mind (see also #3).

The Gospel is understood as a personal decision that Jesus will pay your airfare to heaven upon death. If you believe this hard enough, repeat a mantra and don't screw up. Jesus will also pay for other things on earth for you...just don't mess up!!! Believe harder maggot!!

7. Salvation is limited to a person's soul and has no other broader ramifications. It only addresses the most "spiritual" aspects of life. God cares about nothing else going on in the world and neither should you unless it effects your personal happiness (God may choose to place a real "burden" on your heart for maintaining the status quo to your betterment).

8. Personal salvation is the single most important moment in one's life (keywords: single & moment). Again, don't mess up!! (but if you do, you can always "recommit" yourself).

9. A Pro-life stance only concerns the time in a person's life between conception to delivery.

10. Prayer is a tool to pursue happiness or to indicate your disapproval with a person or their behavior (i.e., "I will pray for you, _____").

11. Community most often refers to a neighborhood with a gate around it.

12. Unquestioning faith is second only to unquestioning nationalism (to the "pro-America" regions of the country***).

13. "Afterlife, Slavery to the Law, and Liberty to fully Pursue Happiness & Safety First" is the creed.

**(The "other" includes Jews with the dispensationalist exception of when it involves protecting Israel so as to encourage the return of Jesus.)

*** Pro-America regions are represented by the red and orange areas on the map.If I was an outsider looking in, from that perspective, this would be my 13-point assessment of the beliefs of American Evangelicals.
What would you add?

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Saturday, October 25, 2008


America's REAL favorite domestic terrorist, James Dobson is baaaack. Prepare yourself, according to Dobson, an Obama presidency will force your boys to sleep with pedophiles in tents thanks to the Supreme Court and Boy Scouts. OH YEAH, he's that apeshit.


AP, October 24, 2008 · Terrorist strikes on four American cities. Russia rolling into Eastern Europe. Israel hit by a nuclear bomb. Gay marriage in every state. The end of the Boy Scouts. All are plausible scenarios if Democrat Barack Obama is elected president, according to a new addition to the campaign conversation called "Letter from 2012 in Obama's America," produced by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family Action.

The imagined look into the future is part of an escalation in rhetoric from Christian right activists who are trying to paint Obama in the worst possible terms as the campaign heads into the final stretch and polls show the Democrat ahead.

"It looks like, walks like, talks like and smells like desperation to me," said the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell of Houston, an Obama supporter who backed President Bush in the past two elections. The Methodist pastor called the 2012 letter "false and ridiculous." He said it showed that some Christian conservative leaders fear that Obama's faith-based appeals to voters are working.

Like other political advocacy groups, Christian right groups often raise worries about an election's consequences to mobilize voters. In the early 1980s, for example, direct mail from the Moral Majority warned that Congress would turn a blind eye to "smut peddlers" dangling pornography to children.

"Everyone uses fear in the last part of a campaign, but evangelicals are especially theologically prone to those sorts of arguments," said Clyde Wilcox, a Georgetown University political scientist.

continue full article and a partial list of the insane remarks from Focus on the Family here:

Focus on your own damn family, James.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hard to watch no matter the frequency

I'd normally just laugh this kinda malarkey off for the absurdity that it is if I wasn't STILL hearing this or some variation of it from so many Christians. It's not just on the satire shows or even out of the mouths of the Mississippi folks I grew up with (that would be too easy) but from surprising places like students, recent college grads or people I meet through work. The same dissonant, divorced from reality nonsense, it just takes different forms with different levels of vocabulary. The mind balks. (and Jesus weeps)

NPR: How McCain Shed Pariah Status Among Evangelicals

Exerpt: "In May, McCain began to court the evangelical leaders he had once disdained, with the help of Bauer, his friend and religious insider. All summer, McCain met privately with leaders and stressed his credentials that he is strongly pro-life, anti-same-sex marriage, a religious conservative by record if not by countenance."

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Brooks calls Palin "Fatal Cancer to Republicans," Decries culture of willful ignorance

Conservative columnist/writer, David Brooks, (with whom I have a long standing love/hate, or more appropriately the other way around, relationship) spoke frankly about the presidential and vice presidential candidates Monday afternoon, calling Sarah Palin a "fatal cancer to the Republican party" but describing John McCain and Barack Obama as "the two best candidates we've had in a long time."

In an interview with The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg at New York's Le Cirque restaurant to unveil that magazine's redesign, Brooks decried Palin's anti-intellectualism and compared her to President Bush in that regard:

[Sarah Palin] represents a fatal cancer to the Republican party. When I first started in journalism, I worked at the National Review for Bill Buckley. And Buckley famously said he'd rather be ruled by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty. But he didn't think those were the only two options. He thought it was important to have people on the conservative side who celebrated ideas, who celebrated learning. And his whole life was based on that, and that was also true for a lot of the other conservatives in the Reagan era. Reagan had an immense faith in the power of ideas. But there has been a counter, more populist tradition, which is not only to scorn liberal ideas but to scorn ideas entirely. And I'm afraid that Sarah Palin has those prejudices. I think President Bush has those prejudices.

Brooks praised Palin's natural political talent, but said she is "absolutely not" ready to be president or vice president. He explained, "The more I follow politicians, the more I think experience matters, the ability to have a template of things in your mind that you can refer to on the spot, because believe me, once in office there's no time to think or make decisions."

The New York Times columnist also said that the "great virtue" of Palin's counterpart, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden, is that he is anything but a "yes man."

"[Biden] can't not say what he thinks," Brooks remarked. "There's no internal monitor, and for Barack Obama, that's tremendously important to have a vice president who will be that way. Our current president doesn't have anybody like that."

Brooks also spent time praising Obama's intellect and skills in social perception, telling two stories of his interactions with Obama that left him "dazzled":

Obama has the great intellect. I was interviewing Obama a couple years ago, and I'm getting nowhere with the interview, it's late in the night, he's on the phone, walking off the Senate floor, he's cranky. Out of the blue I say, 'Ever read a guy named Reinhold Niebuhr?' And he says, 'Yeah.' So i say, 'What did Niebuhr mean to you?' For the next 20 minutes, he gave me a perfect description of Reinhold Niebuhr's thought, which is a very subtle thought process based on the idea that you have to use power while it corrupts you. And I was dazzled, I felt the tingle up my knee as Chris Matthews would say.

And the other thing that does separate Obama from just a pure intellectual: he has tremendous powers of social perception. And this is why he's a politician, not an academic. A couple of years ago, I was writing columns attacking the Republican congress for spending too much money. And I throw in a few sentences attacking the Democrats to make myself feel better. And one morning I get an email from Obama saying, 'David, if you wanna attack us, fine, but you're only throwing in those sentences to make yourself feel better.' And it was a perfect description of what was going through my mind. And everybody who knows Obama all have these stories to tell about his capacity for social perception.

Brooks predicted an Obama victory by nine points, and said that although he found Obama to be "a very mediocre senator," he was is surrounded by what Brooks called "by far the most impressive people in the Democratic party."

"He's phenomenally good at surrounding himself with a team," Brooks said. "I disagree with them on most issues, but I am given a lot of comfort by the fact that the people he's chosen are exactly the people I think most of us would want to choose if we were in his shoes. So again, I have doubts about him just because he was such a mediocre senator, but his capacity to pick staff is impressive."

original article from HuffPo | author: Danny Shea | October 8, 2008 02:09 PM

example of some of that "willful ignorance":

Related Film to Topic - Stupidity -

"Stupidity sets out to determine whether our culture is hooked on deliberate ignorance as a strategy for success. From Adam Sandler to George W. Bush, from the IQ test to TV programming, to the origins of the word moron, Stupidity examines the "dumbing down" of contemporary culture. Stupidity embarks on an exhaustive search into its meaning, and the implications of a culture that is obsessed and saturated with stupefying culture."

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Bad Gospel, Bad Mortgage

Foreclosures: Did God Want You to Get That Mortgage?
By David Van Biema Friday, Oct. 03, 2008

Has the so-called Prosperity Gospel turned its followers into some of the most willing participants — and hence, victims — of the current financial crisis? That's what a scholar of the fast-growing brand of pentecostal Christianity believes. While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California Riverside, he realized that Prosperity's central promise — that God would "make a way" for poor people to enjoy the better things in life — had developed an additional, toxic expression during sub-prime boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe "God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house." The results, he says, "were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers."

Others think he may be right. Says Anthea Butler, an expert in pentecostalism at the University of Rochester in New York state, "The pastor's not gonna say 'go down to Wachovia and get a loan' but I have heard, 'even if you have a poor credit rating God can still bless you — if you put some faith out there [that is, make a big donation to the church], you'll get that house, or that car or that apartment.'" Adds J. Lee Grady, editor of the magazine Charisma, "It definitely goes on, that a preacher might say, 'if you give this offering, God will give you a house. And if they did get the house, people did think that it was an answer to prayer, when in fact it was really bad banking policy." If so, the situation offers a look at how an native-born faith built partially on American economic optimism entered into a toxic symbiosis with a pathological market.

story continued at

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

In preparation for tonight's debate

what we might expect (HOPE HOPE HOPE) to see:


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Where we're at...

Moderate Conservative Peggy Noonan and Jon Stewart talk about the general heartbreak and small-town offs.

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