Sunday, November 22, 2009

And freedom for all - except for THOSE dispicable man-lovers.

Shorter Manhattan Declaration:

We, ecumenical Christians of Evangelical, Catholic and Orthodox traditions, gather today to remember how Christians have historically and are actively serving and rescuing the downtrodden and oppressed. We declare that every single human life is made in the image and has a print of the glory of God and are worthy of dignity and a voice - with the exception of those that want to gay-marry. And also, the public option will kill grandma and the cripples. And further also, the government is taking Christianity away from us and will make us all perform mass gay abortion marriages.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

News of the Weird = The Conservative Bible Project

According to Conservapedia's Conservative Bible Project Page:
Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations...
As of 2009, there is no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines:
  1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias
  2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, "gender inclusive" language, and other feminist distortions; preserve many references to the unborn child (the NIV deletes these)
  3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level
  4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms to capture better the original intent; Defective translations use the word "comrade" three times as often as "volunteer"; similarly, updating words that have a change in meaning, such as "word", "peace", and "miracle".
  5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as "gamble" rather than "cast lots"; using modern political terms, such as "register" rather than "enroll" for the census
  6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
  7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
  8. Exclude Later-Inserted Inauthentic Passages: excluding the interpolated passages that liberals commonly put their own spin on, such as the adulteress story
  9. Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels
  10. Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word "Lord" rather than "Jehovah" or "Yahweh" or "Lord God."
Thus, a project has begun among members of Conservapedia to translate the Bible in accordance with these principles. The translated Bible can be found here...

First Example - Liberal-Promoted FalsehoodThe earliest, most authentic manuscripts of the Gospel According to Luke lack this verse fragment set forth at the start of Luke 23:34:

Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

Is this a corruption of the original, perhaps promoted by liberals without regard to its authenticity? This does not appear in any other Gospel, and the simple fact is that some of the persecutors of Jesus did know what they were doing. This quotation is a favorite of liberals, although it does not appear in the earliest and best manuscripts of the Gospel of Luke. It should not appear in a conservative Bible, because in point of fact Jesus might never had said it at all...

The committee in charge of updating the bestselling version, the NIV, is dominated by professors and higher-educated participants who can be expected to be liberal and feministin outlook. As a result, the revision and replacement of the NIV will be influenced more by political correctness and other liberal distortions than by genuine examination of the oldest manuscripts. As a result of these political influences, it becomes desirable to develop a conservative translation that can serve, at a minimum, as a bulwark against the liberal manipulation of meaning in future versions.

You can't make this stuff up. As Slactivist argues, this is like a parody of parody. You can't even lampoon it, because what else is left to say?

The good news is that, really, they can't change the Bible from what it is fundamentally. The Beatitudes are largely still in place and stand in opposition to power-worship that many of these seem to consider 'conservative principles'. So maybe, just maybe someone's eyes will open to the unmistakable beauty that is God's word and will see it as their duty to heal rather than hurt, to actively love rather than worry about appearing weak. Maybe the heavens will open and they will experience a revelation, an apocalypse.

Hopefully, prayerfully.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chicago Days 1 - Prayer Vigil in the 14th District

I've been trying to start a Chicago Tuesdays for the last two weeks, but that just never got off the ground. Hopefully, this can be a regular or semi-regular feature next week. But for now, I thought I'd share this prayer vigil announcement for anyone who lives in the Shakespeare District or around here in Chicago. We (including my church, Urban Vineyard) are participating this Thursday evening, and if you live nearby, I ask you to consider showing up as well:


"Prayer Vigil for Peace to Stop the Violence in Our Community"

Churches and Houses of Worship that partner with the 14th District Police Department invite neighbors from the 14th District and beyond to attend a Vigil and Special Worship Service to Seek God for the Peace of our Community.

Our theme verse is Jeremiah 29:7 "Seek the peace of the city; Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."

We will also be offering prayers for the families who have been hurt by violence this year.

Neighborhood young people will be leading us in songs, skits, and prayers.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

6:30p.m. Meet at the corner of Division St. & Spaulding Ave. for walking procession

7:00p.m. Worship Service at Church of God 3301 W. Lemoyne (773) 235-2958

WHO: 26th Ward Alderman Maldonado, 14th District Chicago Police Commander J. Escalante, Ten CommunityChurches and 100 community residents

Participating churches: Abrego del Altisimo, Armitage Baptist Church, Church of God, Humboldt Park Ministerial Association, Iglesia Mision de Valle, La Capilla de Barrio, Episcopal Church de Nuestra Senora de las Americas, Salvation and Deliverance, Vineyard Christian Fellowship, Iglesia de Agape.

For more information contact: Officer Iraida Torres, 14th District CAPS Officer 312-744 -1261,

Rosita De La Rosa
Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA)
Prevention Specialist Director / Intergenerational Organizer
2840 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL. 60618-7401
(773) 384-4370 x10

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sees, I tolds you we should nevah mixes the species up

Shorter Wesley Prudin, hopefully former editor of the Washington Times:

Obama bows, the nation cringes

It's not Obama's fault that he's a surrender monkey, he's got messed up blood because his mama had jungle fever and anyway Hawaii isn't in the real USof'HEY WE BOW TO NOONE!!1!

What is up with these crazy rightwingnutjob cats? Can't they even function a complete thought in their hateful heads without showing their complete ignorance and xenophobia?
They complain that Obama is arrogant, but then they complain that he's subservient to others? Which is it?
They complain because Obama bows, but forget Bush II's bowing to the pope and kissing his holy hand. Or kissing the Saudi King's oily lips.
And then they continue with the insanely racist meme of calling him an un-American. Or a child.
Or, in this guy's case, imagining him getting the bend-over treatment in jail - because that's apparently what happens to his fellow Black Americans ("unfortunately").

Thursday, November 12, 2009

News of the Weird: Charmin' WC Edition

From today's Chicago Reader (p. 78):

Proctor & Gamble announced in October that it will once again open public restrooms in New York City's Times Square for the holiday season as a promotion for Charmin toilet tissue. Earlier this month, as part of it's "Enjoy the Go" campaign, the firm conducted auditions for five "Charmin Ambassadors" who'll be paid $10,000 each to blog about their experience at restrooms from November 23 through December 3. "Charmin only asks that candidates should enjoy going to the bathroom so much - whether it be to catch up on reading or just enjoy some 'me time' - they never want to leave," said the press release.
Boy, I love me some 'me time.' Especially if I get rewarded handsomely for it.

But still, I think my bathroom is public enough...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I can see 2012 from my house!

Shorter Joel Cotkin, over at Forbes:

"Obama hasn't healed the nation yet, so he's a sitting-duck president unless he yields to my five simple steps of Palin-tology. Also, Drill, Baby, Drill!"

H/T to Carson "Daily" Clark via Facebook
'Shorter' theme is stolen from SadlyNo, who borrowed it from someone else who modified it from this other cat and so forth...

Monday, November 09, 2009

Questioning Evangelicals: Corporate Sin

"Corporations and nations don't kill people. Individual bad persons kill people. Individually. Sometimes with guns."

That line of logic is prevalent in my own Evangelical movement. Evangelicals do not recognize corporate sin, this concept that a group of people can be responsible for the sins of the entire group, even if they did not individually sin. Which is odd, to say the least.

First, Christians believe that all of humanity is cursed with the consequences of sin because of the follies of a couple representative members (Adam & Eve). Second, Christians believe that when sin entered the world, it ruined not just them and their offspring, but the whole world. Which includes not just nature, not just hurricanes and tsunamais and earthquakes and other "Acts of God." Every social interaction, every attempt at brotherhood (see Cain and Abel) and community (see Babel) is tainted beyond simple matters of 'me' and 'you'.

But let's look at an example, shall we?

"You shall not murder."
"If someone strikes you on the one cheek, offer him your other cheek."

How are these rather straight-forward Biblical imperatives reconciled in the minds of Evangelical Christians in the light of our constant drumming of war triumphalism? How does a Christian live a moral life and participate as a soldier - if the primary function (not necessarily purpose) of a soldier is to kill?*

A friend tried to help with this disconnect once, using common logic from the EV fray:

"Suppose you're called to the military by your country. You operate in obedience to your country. You fight because you have to. You shoot because you have to. That other person on the other side may, just like you, have a family - kids and a wife. But it's your duty to shoot, to defend your country. You can rest assured that you are not personally responsible for that person's death. The responsibility for the death is on the government's head."

At this juncture, it seems important to note that there are a few meteoritic holes in this argument (like, How come many of the same people who say we have to obey our government in times of war will openly disavow obeying the government in something so paltry as paying taxes? Or, Is it more important to be obedient to my government or to my conscience?), but let's take this example at face value, shall we? What we are told to do here is remove individual guilt and place it on a corporate entity.**

Which is one of the few periods when Evangelicals recognize any sort of corporate sin in any form. Evangelicals are so centered on individual sins (lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life as committed by each person) that the idea that companies, corporations, local governments, nations (or at least non-Axis-of-Evil ones), industries, markets and their directors and/or members can be held guilty for their actions is foreign to them. The meltdown at Enron, for example, can be blamed on a few reckless people - not a reckless corporate atmosphere of rapid growth and immense competition that precluded false financial reports meant to buff up their image yet accomplishing a wide-scale gang-raping of jobs and safety.

However, if one were to point out the evils rampant in, say, the police force, she will be told that it is the work of a few bad apples.
Likewise, the housing collapse was the work of individual predatory lenders (or, for the less compassionate, individual poor people who should have known better).
The related banking collapse.
The sex slave trade.

These are all the works of isolated individuals, not systemic problems. They just need some Jesus and those problems will be taken care of. Right?

And then there's more massive problems, not so easily deflected to individuals:
Global poverty.
Slavery in general (which is bigger than ever).

Often looking into the abyss of these problems, many fellow Evangelicals would rather not face the 'Why' of these dilemmas (or if they do they turn to overly-simplistic or even racist answers). Instead, they work on trying to serve the people caught in the problems (or, in the "Axis of Evil" example, advocate for war. Again...). Which is beneficial to a point, but severely limited. It only allows us to rescue a few hand-picked individuals and only for a short period of time. Further, the good vibes associated with the rescuing allow us a reprieve from the guilt associated with our comfortable life and all the riches; they allow us to continue to feed into the machines that entrap people. Rather than tearing down the prisons and allowing the prisoners to go free, we're content with sending in a check every once in a while. Rather than confronting our luxurious and wasteful nation. Rather than challenging banking and insurance policies and practices that are clearly unethical. Rather than calling the gods of war and their connections to account for the blood they shed. Rather than picking up our cross daily for the sins of our generation.

We'll just continue to blame individual sin and find a scapegoat here and there. As long as we don't have to be personally responsible for others' sins...

* I do not indict soldiers in this argument. I am merely bringing in a moral argument.
**Except, for many on the Evangelical Right, the sins of the government in declaring war on "our enemies" (currently, Brown People and Muslims) are absolved.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Top Shelvers of the Allright Aughts - So Far

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Second in a series of pre-emptive favorites (really, most influential). The official lists should be up in Jan/Feb, but this is my way of thinking about the lists beforehand and just having fun with it.

I try to limit these lists to one work per artist/author (though for movies, two of my definite favorites are from the same director. Since movies are more collaborative, I may have to break my own rule on that one. Not sure yet.) and to works released in this decade. Which, in the case of books, gives me a bit more leeway than the typical year list, as I rarely read a work in the year it was written...

In no particular order:

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection and the Mission of the Church
- N. T. Wright
Overview of the crusader's singular work against Gnosticism and escapism which has pervaded the Protestant churches (especially American Evangelical churches), especially in regards to heaven, the Resurrection and all that.

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie
Hilarious and poignant young adult novel about a high school freshman who decides to attend an all white school that's literally and figuratively miles and miles removed from his reservation.

What's So Amazing About Grace
- Philip Yancey
(I can't tell when this book was first published based on the Amazon reads, so it may be disqualified...)
What sets apart Christianity from any other philosophy or religion in the world? I'll give you a clue - it's in the title of this great set of meditations from my favority Evangelical writer.

Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay
- Michael Chabon
Ooh, comic books! A novel! Amazing and epic!

When You Are Engulfed in Flames
- David Sedaris
-or- Me Talk Pretty One Day
Ok, so this is a cheat, but I've got a couple months to make up my mind. Contrary to popular belief, I truly believe that Flames is Sedaris' strongest work yet. The Smoking Diaries at the end alone are worth the price of admission. However, Me Talk is one of the most influential books I've ever had the privilege to crib.

Jesus Wants to Save Christians
- Rob Bell and Dan Golden
I can't decide if this book or Velvet Elvis is more important to me. I actually think Elvis in that it helped me work through some transitional things and definitely provided a juncture for me. But if Elvis is the bridge, Save is a road map to the destination: Liberty for all, in the name of Jesus.

Searching for God Knows What - Donald Miller
As of print, I don't have his latest book, but I still think that Searching is miles ahead of his breakthrough Blue Like Jazz.

Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity
- Lauren Winner
In a world where Christians rarely talk maturely about sex (if at all), this book really helped me to look at sex as an issue of love and openness springing from the bedroom, through the home and then outwards.

Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation
- Jeff Chang
A social history of oppressed people framed by their music. There's nothing new there, but the first half of this massive book is so intriguing and yet comprehensive that much else fails by comparison - including its own second half.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Music for a Saturday

Who loves you baby?
Who gives you good credit,
Who says you'll regret it?

What does this say about my taste in music that this is my 666th post? Then again, Steve Taylor has always been known to play with the occult and garner the hate-vision of far-right conservatives.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Best. Beck. Impersonation. Ever!

Weekend Links We Like to Link to: Health Care Edition

Don't know how everything is gonna pan out. At this point, nobody really does, right?

Does the US really have the best health care in the world?

How dare the Mrs. POTUS indoctrinate our kids to eat healthy food at a fair! We oughta knock that asparagus outta her hands and replace it with the cotton candy and merry-go-rounds that everybody everywhere associates with fairs - like the ones at job fairs and college fairs! And exercise?! SHAME!!

Pricing. "The block representing the prices paid by American health-insurance plans looming over the others [England, Germany, Canada, Spain, etc.] like a New York skyscraper that got lost in downtown Des Moines." That's it! And why didn't they say so sooner?

The clustersuck that is our system in treating, say, diabetics. Partially because insurance companies - who do not retain their base for any extensive period of time (vs. a comprehensive national plan like Single Payer, et. al.) - are more concerned about holding onto their monies until they need to.
[In] the byzantine world of American health care... the real profit is made not by controlling chronic diseases like diabetes but by treating their many complications.

Insurers, for example, will often refuse to pay $150 for a diabetic to see a podiatrist, who can help prevent foot ailments associated with the disease. Nearly all of them, though, cover amputations, which typically cost more than $30,000.

Patients have trouble securing a reimbursement for a $75 visit to the nutritionist who counsels them on controlling their diabetes. Insurers do not balk, however, at paying $315 for a single session of dialysis, which treats one of the disease's serious complications...

"If a hospital charges, and can get reimbursed by insurance, $50,000 for a bariatric surgery that takes just 40 minutes," she said, "or it can get reimbursed $20 for the same amount of time spent with a nutritionist, where do you think priorities will be?"

In case you missed the story of the fat baby denied health care coverage because he was over the 95 percentile. A little close to home for me, as our daughter has always been in the 99.99999 percentile.

Just. So. Weird. "These are critical days if you don't want health care." At least Sean Hannity Freudiantly spoke the truth. Which I'm sure confused the mess out of him...

Oh. And, just in case you thought some of the vicious reaction against "Obamacare" was due to the whole Black "Kenyan" outsider problem, the conservative freak shows once again reveal that they're also equally misogynist.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

News of the Weird - Firin' Synapses and Mad Doctor Love

After a longer than long hiatus, it is good to return to the old News of the Weird files again. Let's get started:

Over a decade of experiments on patients awaiting brain surgery for severe epilepsy, researchers at UCLA have found that the brain's 100 billion neurons include some so specialized that they respond only to a single stimulus, the Wall Street Journal reported... Researchers have identified single neurons that fire only in response to Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Halle Berry, Mother Teresa, the Beatles, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Luke Skywalker, and Jennifer Aniston (but not when pictured with Brad Pitt). Last year researchers found a neuron in one patient that would spring to life only when presented with a clip of the The Simpsons. Such neurons, they say, fire whether the concept is presented through pictures or words. And while monitoring a new patient, Dr. Quian Quiroga found a neuron that responded only to him.

And you can see why here. Mee-ow!

From the WSJ article:
The research team reported that a single human neuron could recognize a personality through pictures, text or the sound of a name -- no matter how that person was presented...
Each neuron appeared to join together pieces of sensory information into a single mental impression. The researchers believe these cells are evidence that it only takes a simple circuit of neurons to encode an idea, perception or memory.

Okay, so it's not weird, but I do find it utterly fascinating. I know The Simpsons have been a great stimulus personally. Jennifer Anniston... not so much. (No comment on Halle Berry, though.)

From "News of the Weird", uncredited editor/writer. October 29th, 2009 edition of the Chicago Reader, p. 81.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Back from yet another sabbatical. I've actually got quite a few things coming out of the pike for the next few days, including a continuation of "The Best... of the Aughts (So Far)" series and a new series on my problems with Evangelicalism as it stands these days.

Which I'm both excited about and scared about, as I generally am with anything new (like the weather, every-flippin'-day-in-Chicago!)

I do feel that it's important for me to state my criticisms of the entire movement of Evangelicalism (particularly, I should note, of the American strain). If you love something, you're going to ask questions of it, but I understand that many in my EV family do not share my concerns and would thus question my belonging (some not just within the frame of the Evangelical movement, but as a legitimate Christian. Sigh...). So before I begin the semi-weekly series (come early next week), I want to be able to have a point of reference for those who will question my membership.

This, in short, are the points where I agree with Evangelicalism:

  • I agree with the ancient Creeds (such as the Nicene and Apostle's).
  • I agree that the Bible is the revealed word of God, is fully true, and is the final authority on the created order and reveals God to us (in other words, if I had a vision wherein "God" were to tell me to shoot an abortion doctor in the face because "God detests abortion", I would know that is a false spirit because it contradicts one of the prominent messages of the Bible, that we should Love our enemies and pray for those that persecute us.)
  • I agree that the Son of God (100% God and yet 100% man) came to earth in the person of a Galilean named Jesus barJoseph, loved and taught and healed (literally and figuratively), died at a fairly young age in an embarrassing manner on a heap of trash, took away the sins of the world, was buried and literally rose back from the dead (and not at all in a zombie way). I also concur that he is the firstborn from among the dead, meaning that those who follow him will also follow him through the chasm of death.
  • I agree that Jesus left his Spirit to comfort and lead us. And that the Spirit in us (the Third Person of the Trinity) testifies of the saving, healing work of Jesus (which is still continuing).
  • I believe in a literal heaven and even a literal hell.
  • I believe that there are spiritual forces (ie., angels and demons) above and beyond our grasp in the material world.
  • I agree that Jesus is the good shepherd and is the sole way to God the Father (there is a massive paradox in this exclusivity, I am aware and would like to expand on this in a future post as well).
  • I believe that Jesus' followers should distinguish themselves from those who follow the Way of the World (and more on that in another post also. But here's a four-letter tease: Love).
  • I agree that it is the responsibility/privilege of each individual follower of Jesus to testify of the Way of Jesus.
  • I agree that Christians need to be involved in the world around them.