Monday, April 21, 2008
A brief story about two young women, young women we will name Ophelia.
The first Ophelia lived in a small, isolated community. Though she has gifted hands, she was never allowed to think much about becoming something other than what she was raised to be in her community, a young bride and mother. Until the day the police came, when new men in uniform told her that the men she’d listened to her whole life were abusing her and the other women and girls in the only home she’s ever known. She has no more choice now, it appears, than she did then ... a man sitting behind a bench, and men in lab coats swabbing inside her cheeks for her DNA, will let her know what her future is to be.
As always, men will decide.
The second Ophelia lives just to the north, in a big city. She had her first child while still a teen, and two more followed shortly thereafter. She and her children have limited options. She’s has a mind for numbers, but her strict parents and her indifferent teachers never told her that she could become so many things with that gift, perhaps an engineer or scientist or computer programmer. She was raised to believe that motherhood for a girl like her would be a blessing. She would have someone who loved her unconditionally. Later this year, when she finds herself pregnant again, the men in her state want to force her to have an obstetric ultrasound before she can have the abortion that she feels she needs to have, a new demand on top of all of the other delays and obstacles that those “righteous” men have placed in her way. She can’t make such decisions for herself, silly woman, any more than she could have benefitted from more encouragement when she was in school.
As always, the men know best.
It is not for either Ophelia to question any of this. They have a role, after all, a role that has been determined for them by men based upon what those men read in a book written by other, deader men. The Ophelias are supporting characters, plot points in men’s grand stories, pawns to be pushed and sacrificed for a higher good, to serve the King/Prophet/God/Senator/Minister, even to their deaths.
Neither Ophelia could make choices for herself, develop her natural talents, become her own story. They are, after all, only women.
I wish my story was fiction, but it’s all too real, not just in Texas, not just in Oklahoma, but in far too many villages, towns, cities, states ... COUNTRIES. Yes, even in this country, which likes to proclaim itself a land of freedom and equality and opportunity. The Ophelias of the world are left to sink or swim, to serve the demands and rules and madness of the men around them.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Yankee Stadium Is Hallowed Ground For Papal Visit
I can’t think for a more appropriate place for that authoritarian enabler of pedophiles to preach than a big sports stadium. A place where rules are followed for the sake of the game, not for any higher purpose (despite proclamations to the contrary by hacks) but to entertain, to keep people focused not on anything real, but on something else, anything else other than brutal war, a brutal prison industrial complex, a brutal economic system that steals from the poor to elevate the rich. No, play ball, drop to your knees and pray, look away from your problems and gaze drop-jawed at the expensive vestments and ruby slippers.
America’s favorite sport isn’t baseball, or football, or basketball or BMX racing or NASCAR. America’s favorite sport is the wagging of fingers, interventionist scolding, hypocritical moralizing. America loves to tell you what to do, while reserving the right for those giving the instructions to do as they please.
Whether he’s meeting with just five of the thousands of victims raped by Priests, or standing side-by-side with our war criminal President, Pope Nazinger just loves to tell us that many of us are wrong, while he and his friends are right, are champions of Truth, the Way and the Light:
In the wake of the French Revolution, in contrast, many European nations developed what Benedict calls a ‘’conflictual’’ separation of church and state. A godless state sees its role as chasing the vestiges of Christianity from the public square. As it has succeeded, Europe has been robbed of its civilizational vigor. ‘’Europe seems hollow,’’ Benedict has said, ‘’as if it were internally paralyzed by a failure of its circulatory system.’’
If Benedict reflects the Catholic Church’s new attitude toward America, evangelicals in turn have warmed to the church. It’s not the ‘’Whore of Babylon’’ of yore, but an ally in a deep-seated cultural struggle. As Benedict himself has said of evangelicals, ‘’They have come to see Catholicism as a defender against the pressures of secularization and an upholder of the same ethical values that they themselves profess.’’
He might as well have been speaking of President Bush, a man famous for his impatience for pomp and circumstance who went all out - from a 21-gun salute to a four-tiered, lemon-flavored birthday cake - for the pontiff. Bush told Benedict, ‘’In a world where some no longer believe that we can distinguish between simple right and wrong, we need your message to reject this ‘dictatorship of relativism.’ ‘’
The phrase is one of Benedict’s signature lines. It was featured in his homily at the 2005 Mass for the papal conclave that so impressed his fellow cardinals before they selected him as pope. Benedict’s point was that if relativists consider any claims of moral truth as inherently oppressive, they feel justified in attempting to muzzle those who make them. In Benedict’s words, they ‘’seek to subordinate all religions to the super-dogma of relativism.’’
Relativism (I guess “secular humanism” doesn’t have the same scary ring that it used to) ... oh that terrible relativism. A straw devil that Papa likes to erect and then ritually exorcize, that ole’ devil relativism.
Pope Benedict XVI waves to the crowd as he joins President Bush
The old fraud, and others like him on the Protestant Christian right, like to insist that relativism means that anything goes, that any system of values, or no values, is as good as any other. Of course, there is no acknowledgement of the arrogance inherent in the idea that the believer/preacher/minister is able to discern “truth” where others can’t, that imperfect human beings would even know it if Truth sat on their face and wiggled around.
Relativism, in real practice, is the idea that robust debate, the conflict of ideas, is the path toward finding BETTER solutions to our problems, BETTER ways of living our lives. It is the recognition that Truth is a boundary we can not reach, but rather a horizon that we can try to approach, and if we reject other points of view, other beliefs, we might miss a critical insight, a new solution that our own limited beliefs and experiences blinded us to.
Of course, such a society would make it a little harder to fleece the sheep, to keep the collection plates full, to provide fresh-faced altar boys and girls to diddle, to lie into evil wars and unsustainable exploitation of our world and of each other. Debate, discussion, interaction with the other must be quashed, stamped down, kept at bay, which is what Bush and Ratzinger have in common. It’s the motivation for so much of how our society runs, and thus its expression on a playing field for a children’s game played by adults and paid for by taxpayers is the perfect place for the Pope to sell his wares.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
The Presidential candidates can’t fun fast enough away from reason and toward superstition:
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are eager to talk about religion. But why are they so scared of science?
The two remaining Democratic presidential candidates recently agreed to participate in the Compassion Forum, scheduled for April 13 at Messiah College in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Billed as a conversation on faith and values, the event will be broadcast by the Church Communication Network. It also comes five days before a proposed science debate that was canceled after the candidates refused to participate.
The would-be debate was organized by Science Debate 2008, a coalition of scientists, academics, business leaders and citizens who’ve pushed the candidates to talk about scientific issues that—despite their critical importance to America’s well-being—have been downplayed during the campaign and within the nation’s political discourse.
After Obama declined and Clinton and McCain failed to commit, organizers abandoned the April 18 debate. They’ve now presented the candidates with three alternative May dates prior to the Oregon primaries on May 20.
“These are issues worth discussing,” said Shawn Lawrence Otto, chief executive officer of Science Debate 2008. “Because of the huge impact that science and technology is having on our lives and our policies, voters have a right to assess the candidates on these topics—and candidates have an obligation to tell voters what they’re thinking."
Perhaps it’s hard to pander in an area where it requires one to actually do some research, to know something about the world. Reason, after all, as long since departed the public sphere in this nation.
"Nearly every scientist I’ve spoken to recently says that the next one or two Presidential administrations have a chance to determine the future viability of the planet. Those are dire words, coming from people used to being conservative in their language,” said Otto.
Other issues include stem cell research, drug patents, global disease pandemics, bioterrorism, nanotechnology, population growth, environmental conservation, water shortages, renewable, space exploration and the integrity of government science.
As for why Obama and Clinton are willing to debate moral but not scientific issues, Otto was baffled.
“Is there a greater moral imperative than the ongoing viability of the planet?” he asked. “Science is about practical solutions to moral questions."
Solutions? Since when do our political “leaders” give a shit about SOLUTIONS?
All they care about is power, and money ... preferably more of it for themselves and their friends, and it’s easier to get help rounding up votes from people prone to leaps of faith than from people who ask a bunch of questions.
Obama, Clinton or McCain, either way you’re voting for Worshipper in Chief, and that ole’ time religion is the easiest path to power.