Friday, July 27, 2012

Black wedding banned by Baptist church - And other discriminations

Black wedding banned by Baptist church - - Jackson, MS - Jackson, MS

The day before black congregants were to marry in a majority-white church, the use of the church for that wedding is vetoed by the majority-white congregation.

First, the parts that are supposed to make us feel better about all this crap:
  • The dissenting people within the church were a tiny minority, according to the pastor.
  • "I didn't want a controversy to affect the wedding of Charles and Te' Andrea. I wanted to make sure their wedding day was a special day," according to the pastor, Mr. Weatherford
  • So the couple is married by Weatherford at a nearby church.

But, then there's this:
  • "I didn't want to have a controversy within the church."

Too bad. Too late. It's not just a "controversy", Pastor Weatherford. It's obvious, direct evil. And the unity of some nice white people isn't worth ignoring this obvious, dreadful sin.

That's a problem, and bigger than just the sin of denying a couple a wedding at the last minute based on their race. It's allowing that same crap to continue unabated and under the coverage of "difference of opinion" and "maintaining unity."

Discipline your church, man... Before it gets media attention for being so anti-Christ.

And then think about how the same may discriminations may be occurring to lesbian, gay, interracial, transgendered, immigrants, people with disabilities or mental disorders, non-conformists and other oppressed groups within and around your church.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Galileo: King of Insight

The following beautiful response was written by a friend, artist Cameron Webb, to another friend. It was inspired in part by the Chick-Fil-A controversy, but it's much more than that. It is a conversation about the wonder and vastness of God's nature, about varied sexuality, about learning of the grandness of nature and the power that that distributes and the fear that that power grants to us all without discrimination. 
Importantly, this text is rooted in love and compassion and deep friendship. It is quoted with permission. Please feel free to share

All of the things that create a marriage, that sustain it, that make it holy - loving, caring, sacrificial giving on both sides as Christ loved and died for us - egalitarianism, nurturing, honoring, cherishing - all these things are what God ordained.

None of those things have anything to do with the race, gender, sexual orientation, able-ism (and handicapped people have been denied marriage rights in the past, and discriminated against in this same way, and in areas, still are today). God created this world with infinite variations. Male penguins and sea horses that care for the young, creatures that procreate in ways that blend gender and sex roles. There are animals that will literally change sex in certain instances. There are instances of homosexual couples in thousands of animals - a natural variation of the infinite incredible world that God has created.

Humans are no exception.

We are created just as varied. An infinite, complex diverse God created and ordained uniqueness that is so complex that each individual's combination of gender identity, orientation and sexual formation is unique to each and every one of us.

Heterosexuality is by far and away the dominant variation, just as many other variations are dominant throughout creation. But given all the variations of all the infinite creation, we have enshrined heterosexuality, paired it with a narrow definition of what gender traits must go with what, and we have made it an idol to be worshiped, to the exclusion of and condemning all of the rest of God's creation.

Remember, there was a firm belief in the Middle Ages that the earth was center of the universe, and the sun revolved around it - a belief held based on Biblical language. We know today that the poetic Spirit-breathed words of scripture of the universe do not, on the surface reading, explain the fact that the sun is in the center and the planets orbit it, as God ordained.

The upheaval of that realization left ruined lives due to the church's violent opposition. It was not until the 16th century that a fully predictive mathematical model of a heliocentric system was presented, by the Renaissance mathematician, astronomer, and Catholic cleric Nicolaus Copernicus of Poland, leading to the Copernican Revolution. In the following century, Johannes Kepler elaborated upon and expanded this model to include elliptical orbits, and supporting observations made using a telescope were presented by Galileo Galilei.

Florence. Galileo's Observatory
Galileo's Observatory: A. D. White Architectural Photographs, Cornell University Library 

All three men faced disdain, persecution by the church.

Copernicus waited until his death bed to publish his scientific findings for fear of the church; Galileo was threatened with torture and exiled to permanent house arrest for the remainder of his life for advocating the beautiful heliocentric solar system that today we praise God for.

Today, science is turning up more and more and more evidence faster and faster that substantiates the infinite and beautiful variations of human sex, orientation, and gender created so complexly by our Incredible creator.

The Bible is misquoted, mistranslated and out-right ignored and used, as it was used on Copernicus and Galileo, to support HUMAN prejudices and idolatry, all the while ignoring not only his infinite complex creation, but the true heart of marriage - to love, honor, cherish, and love as Christ loved us. Our marriages fail, because we do not nurture, cherish, honor and love one another as Christ loved us and died for us, as He loves and nurtures us still.

And as long as we focus on human prejudice - hatred and destruction of relationships - and refuse to honor God and all his stunning creation, we will live with this idea that marriage has to do with anything, but what God intended: to love and honor one another.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Misdirected Moral Outrage in the Pro-Life Bible Belt

 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
 John 10:10 (NIV)

I have come so that you may have life...
In a statement published Monday morning, Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) “proudly” declared that he will decline to implement key tenets of the Affordable Care Act — a move that will see his state forgo an estimated $164 billion dollars in federal aid and leave over 1.2 million low-income Texans, who would have finally been eligible for health care, helpless and uninsured..
With his announcement, Perry becomes the sixth governor to refuse implementing a key aspect of the Affordable Care Act: the Medicaid expansion and the state-based health care exchanges. Republican governors in Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana and Wisconsin have made similar decisions.

So, South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas. The Bible Belt. The heart of the Pro-Life movement. Solid Southern Baptist strongholds. Where is the moral outrage from the Christian churches in these states?

But the thief...

They're certainly willing to shut down abortion clinics and allow poor mothers the chance to raise their children alone or with minimal assistance - and STILL deny them necessary medical assistance.

Nearly 25 percent of Texans — 6.5 million people — do not have health insurance, including more than 1.2 million children, and the state’s health care system ranks last in the nation overall.
Why are 1,200,000 children denied basic health care coverage in the state of Texas? That is a lot of children that the governor who hosted a prayer before he announced his presidential run is willing to let suffer. Those same people who hosted his prayer rally, by the way, were not praying that these children would be covered. They were not praying that the state and legislature of Texas would care for the sick, the dying, the young, the poor, the imprisoned.

...the thief comes...

john william waterhouse: a sick child brought into the temple of aesculapius (detail)

To be honest, I wonder if these churches are good for anything some days. They sure don't seem to want to follow the example of Jesus. And I'm sick of their bullshit. I'm sick of their lies and their deceit and I'm sick of them blaming Muslims or Gays or Wiccans or Mexicans or the Lazy Poor*, or Atheists or Libruls or the Black Scary Man in the Oval Office for all the problems in the world when they are actually praying, lobbying and fighting against protection for the sick and the poor. Because Lord knows, they aren't doing a thing on their own. They talk a mighty big game, but when it comes down to it, they are not putting their money where their mouths are. They won't. They can't if they tried. But in all honesty, they won't.

...he comes to steal...

They can be involved on ocassions. They can help run soup kitchens. They can run pantries and do all this stuff, but in the end, they argue against anybody else helping the poor. They argue, in oddly, the one place where they seem to care about coercion, against taxes being used as instruments of justice (though they're awfully quiet about any other form of coercion - including the violent coercion of war which takes a much higher claim and is much more coercive). It doesn't seem to bother them much that tens of thousands in the US die from preventable causes due to lack of adequate, preventative health care (and no, the Emergency Room is neither adequate nor preventative) because they are poor.

...he comes to kill...

Rick Perry, governor of Texas. Rick Scott of Florida. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.
Men highly favored by the pro-life Christians in their state.
Men who are all claiming warfare on a government policy they don't want to lose to - even knowing the policy benefits their coffers. AND, more importantly, knowing that refusing the policy will end up killing many of their states' poorest. Literally, killing them.

Where is the pro-life movement here? You know where. They are protesting the Affordable Care Act under the pretense that it may drive up abortions. For all their outrage at the taking of life of the pre-born, they are doing a damned good argument that there is no justifiable reason for a child to come into this world at all. It's all bloody hell, this world that they are working so hard to destroy.

... he comes to destroy...

The NRA profits off of massive death in Mexico and the US. Any questioning of policies that lead to massive gun shipments between places with weak gun laws (AZ, IN) and stronger ones is charcterized by them as being unAmerican and antifreedom. It also opens up the possibility that the questioners will themselves be under fire.

Since when was an imaginary concept of freedom more important than actual lives of actual children, women and men?

Oh, yeah, when it's directed at the white, rich boss on the hill. The one who comes to town to steal, kill, destroy in the name of his freedom. His freedom is the only one that matters anyway, right?

But I have come to offer you abundant life...

Dear pro-life movement, choose you this day whom you will serve. I shall serve the Lord. For it is the Christ who gives life to the fullest. It is the Christ who loved us while we were yet enemies. It is the Christ who freely gives healing, who attends to the sick, who welcomes the unclean, who sets the prisoners free.

Oh, there's that word. Free. Used for prisoners, at that. Not necessarily, in Jesus-context white, rich men, generally speaking.

May all be free.
*AKA, Black and Latino families on welfare or in poverty. The white or rich folks who get 'gubmint handouts' are okay. They can't possibly be lazy, amirite?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Change and Pervert the Natural Order of Things

The levellers only change and pervert the natural order of things...
- Edmund Burke

Quotes here within are from the introduction to Corey Robin's The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin.

Historically, the conservative has favored liberty for the higher orders and constraint for the lower orders.  What the conservative sees and dislikes in equality, in other words, is not a threat to freedom but its extension. For in that extension, he sees a loss of his own freedom. (p.8)

Despite the very real differences between them, workers in a factory are like secretaries in an office, peasants on a manor, slaves on a plantation - even wives in a marriage - in that they live and labor in conditions of unequal power. They submit and obey, heeding the demands of their managers and masters, husbands and lords. They are disciplined and punished. They do much and receive little. Sometimes their lot is freely chosen... but its entailments seldom are. What contract, after all, could ever itemize the ins and outs, the daily pains and ongoing sufferance, of a job or a marriage? Throughout American history, in fact, the contract often has served as a conduit to unforeseen coercion and constraint, particularly in institutions like the workplace and the family where men and women spend so much of their lives. Employment and marriage contracts have been interpreted by judges, themselves friendly to the interests of employers and husbands, to contain all sorts of unwritten and unwanted provisions of servitude to which wives and workers tacitly consent, even when they have no knowledge of such provisions or wish to stipulate otherwise.

McCall Homemaking Cover

Until 1980, for example, it was legal in every state in the union for a husband to rape his wife. The justification for this dates back to a 1736 treatise by English jurist Matthew Hale. When a woman marries, Hale argued, she implicitly agrees to giver "up herself in this kind (sexually) to her husband." Hers is a tacit, if unknowing, consent "which she cannot retract" for the duration of their union... As late as 1957... a standard legal treatise could state, "A man does not commit rape by having sexual intercourse with his lawful wife, even if he does so by force and against her will." If a woman (or man) tried to write into the marriage contract a requirement that express consent had to be given in order for sex to proceed, judges were bound by common law to ignore or override it. Implicit consent was a structural feature of the contract that neither party could alter. (4-5)...

Edmund Burke:

The occupation of an hair-dresser, or of a working tallow-chandler, cannot be a matter of honour to any person - to say nothing of a number of other more servile employments. Such descriptions of men ought not to suffer oppression from the state; but the state suffers oppression, if such as they, either individually or collectively, are permitted to strike... (8)
Holding strikers in check, Lawrence, Mass. (LOC)

During the Seattle general strike of 1919, workers went to great lengths to provide basic government services, including law and order. So successful were they that the mayor concluded it was this, the workers' independent capacity to limit violence and [chaos]*, that posed the greatest threat:

The so-called sympathetic Seattle strike was an attempted revolution. That there was no violence does not alter the fact... True, there were no flashing guns, no bombs, no killings. Revolution, I repeat, doesn't need violence. The general strike, as practiced in Seattle, is of itself the weapon of revolution, all the more dangerous because quiet... that is to say, it puts the government out of operation. and that is all there is to revolt - no matter how achieved. (7)
Elizabeth Cady Stanton:
Here is the secret of the opposition to woman's equality in the state. Men are not ready to recognize it in the home.
Schooled in the Enlightenment, John Adams believed that "consent of the people" was "the only moral foundations of government." But when his wife suggested that a muted version of these principals be extended to the family, he was not pleased... Abigail wrote him, "In the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do no put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could."...

Adams was clearly rattled by this appearance of democracy in the private sphere. In a letter to James Sullivan, he worried that the Revolution would "confound and destroy all distinctions," unleashing throughout society a spirit of insubordination so intense that all order would be dissolved... No matter how democratic the state, it was imperative that society remain a federation of private dominions, where husbands ruled over the wives, masters governed apprentices, and each "should know his place and be made to keep it." (14)...

Workers at a hat factory, St. Paul

Conservatism, then, is not a commitment to limited government and liberty - or a wariness of change, a belief in evolutionary reform, or a politics of virtue. These may be the byproducts of conservatism, one or more of its historically specific and ever-changing modes of expression. But they are not its animating purpose. Neither is conservatism a makeshift fusion of capitalists, Christians, and warriors, for that fusion is impelled by a more elemental force - the opposition to the liberation of men and women from the fetters of their superiors, particularly in the private sphere. Such a view might seem miles away from the libertarian defense of the free market, with its celebration of the atomistic and autonomous individual. but it is not. When the libertarian** looks out upon society, he does not see isolated individuals; he sees private, often hierarchical, groups, where a father governs his family and an owner his employees. (15-6)

James Fitzjames Stephans:
To obey a real superior... is one of the most important of all virtues - a virtue absolutely essential to the attainment of anything great and lasting (17).***

*Here, Robin uses the word "anarchy". But it seems to me that they were acting anarchically - the people were acting as their own government.

**American libertarians seem to publicly ignore the power paradigm while benefiting from it, as if the only thing keeping them from being in epochs of their own power were the limits placed upon them by government and government's collusion with corporate interests (that's only IF they think that corporations can be limiting, rather than just limited). But a problem I have here is that they tend to want to do away with social group distinctions that actually serve to protect people. In my understandings, they largely fail to acknowledge that People of Color are discriminated against en masse, and if so, only as a result of the War on Drugs or the War on Terror. Their disapproval of the "statist" Civil Rights Act only further proves that they are not interested in minority groups being empowered, but whatever limitations they could possibly find themselves in. It's a very WASP way of thinking, unfettered by other (to their minds') murky perspectives.
EDIT: Huh. I may have to change that...

*** I am certainly no longer a conservative by any means or measure, really. But I still have a conservative's temperance for following leaders and Messiahs. It's a struggle to give that up for a truly egalitarian practicum.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dump That God Already!

You fathers--if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead?
Luke 11:11 (NLT)

John Piper, a prominent Calvinist pastor and author and one of the heads of the Neo-Reformed movement of Christians that includes luminous pastor-leaders as Mark Driscoll seems to believe in and speak for a misogynistic, bullying, monstrous God that if the Christian Church is his bride, as the bible says, we would need to divorce and put out a restraining order on. Being battered, bruised and subject to abuse is no way to live in a relationship. And it's hardly a way to live at all...

I've already written about Piper's excuses for a physically abusive spouse here, and plenty of prominent Christian scholar/writers (including Tony Jones, Rachel Held Evans, and Scot McKnight) have written about the problems of Piper's all-controlling, male-dominant god/supervillain before. And then this morning I saw that Peter Enns delved head-first into the swarm. And I'm thankful for that. Because this is the sociopath that Piper describes as God based on his reading of the genocides of the book of Joshua:

God is taking life every day. He will take 50,000 lives today. Life is in God’s hand. God decides when your last heartbeat will be, and whether it ends through cancer or a bullet wound. God governs….
If I were to drop dead right now, or a suicide bomber downstairs were to blow this building up and I were blown into smithereens, God would have done me no wrong. He does no wrong to anybody when he takes their life, whether at 2 weeks or at age 92.
God is not beholden to us at all. He doesn’t owe us anything.
This, courtesy of Heath March at marchingonandon

This is what we're supposed to believe about the Hebrew/Christian God. We are supposed to accept the image of (and cower before and accept the fate of) the God of Conquering, Genocidal Joshua over and above the God of Humble, Healing Jesus. I can't. I refuse to. I've seen enough abuse in my clients, in my friends, in my co-congregants, in the churches I've attended and been around, in my community, in my own life. I refuse to bow before a God who demands I love Him*.


I used to sing songs like this, in church, to this destructive, manipulative, abusive God. I used to pray to Him and try to find some solace among all the destruction and death surrounding me that He supposedly allowed and even willed. I used to sing lyrics about how He is greater and stronger and able to beat your god into a pulp.


Is this the kind of God that Jesus presents?

  • The kind of God that has to force you to love Him?
  • The kind of person that wants us to accept how beautiful He is, but tells you you're contemptible and ugly?
  • The kind of lover who treats you like garbage and will only accept you when you realize that you are worthless without Him?
  • The kind of husband who forces you to receive and accept His seed? (Does that sound like rape? Because, despite the counter-claims by the authors, it is)
  • The kind of man who believes that His emotional needs are supposed to be first and, if there is any left over, you must give that to your other leaders?
  • The kind of spouse who gives ultimatums and threats?
  • The kind of lover who can only accept you as worthy of His presence when He hides you behind someone else's (His own?) image?

Is this the God of Jesus, or the God of our theology based on a man-centric, cold and cruel world? This kind of God/lover can't be trusted. He is abusive.

Or is Jesus and his God known as a wooer? As the ultimate in Truth. As a healer? Loving all? Creating all? Asking that we love our neighbors AS we love ourselves, and our wives as Christ loved the Church?

What kind of God do we believe in?

Any father who gives His children snakes when they're hungry needs to have His children removed, brought to a safe place far away from Him, and counseled and treasured.

*I normally do not use gender-specific pronouns to describe God. But this is a different God, a patriarchialistic God, and so needs to be identified as such.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Isaiah 58 - On Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy

Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Scratch the needle on the DJ's table!
Shout aloud! Don’t be timid.
Tell my people America of their sins!
Yet they act so pious, so righteous, so deserving!

They come to the Church every Sunday and Wednesday,
and seem delighted to learn all about me.
They act like a righteous nation
that would never abandon the laws of its God - they even make laws in my name.
They ask me to take action on their behalf,
pretending they want to be near me.


‘We have fasted before you! We have committed prayers,’ they whine.
‘Why aren’t you impressed? We sure are!
We have been very hard on ourselves,
and you don’t even notice it!’

“I will tell you why!” I respond.
It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves.
Even while you fast,
you keep oppressing your workers.
What good is fasting
when you keep on fighting and quarreling?
This kind of fasting
will never get you anywhere with me.
You humble yourselves
by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads
like reeds bending in the wind.
You dress in sadness
and cover yourselves with ashes. You cry during prayer gatherings. You bemoan presidents and policies.

Is this what you call fasting?
Do you really think this will please the Lord?

Day laborers picking cotton, near Clarksdale, Miss. (LOC)

No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;

lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

 Prison Labor in Louisana on the Mississippi River 4a17926v

Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.

Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.

Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring, full of veggies and fluoride-free.
Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes.


Keep the Sabbath day holy.
Don’t pursue your own interests on that day,
but enjoy the Sabbath
and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day.
Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day,
and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.

Then the Lord will be your delight.
I will give you great honor
and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

(Slight edits to make it more contemporary. But really, shoot, what hasn't changed here?)

Monday, July 09, 2012

LulZ postUrs!

Been having some fun with images and words recently, which you may have noticed if you subscribe to the Left Cheek: The Blog page on the Facebooks. My favorite meme right now is Hipster Jesus. I think he's a fan of Rob Bell and Sufjan Stevens. Plus, he's SOOOO not mainstream Jesus. I really don't care for that Jesus.

Enjoy. I have a few more down the pike, so look out for updates.

Also, check out the page: Pinko Commies Wrote My Bible. Hoping to get a blog going sometime as well.

Friday, July 06, 2012

The Loop of Wingnut Racism

Ask someone how she can justify a war that displaced millions upon millions of citizens for no fault of their own - under the guise that we are there to liberate them. How can we be okay with a war that cost at least a trillion dollars and killed perhaps a million civilians by some estimates.

Yes, some bad apple soldiers may have killed children and women and such and all that.

Um, didn't I just say "One million"?

She answers that they probably would have killed us first. They had the capabilities, etc. They must have moved the weapons of mass destruction and etcetera. Yeah, that's what happened. 

Why would you assume that? Even if the leaders were that foolhardy to attack the US, why hurt so many civilians in the process? They did not ask for Saddam to represent them.

But they're Muslims, she protests. And Muslims hate us and will kill us at every first chance.

How do you know this?

It says so in their Bible, the Koran. And Christians tell me. I trust Christians, don't you?

Yes, Jesus. At this point, I should probably just leave this conversation...
Not if they're spreading false witness about others I definitely don't.

Well, you can't trust the Muslims to tell you the truth. They'll lie all the time. That's also in their Koran.*

What? Do you have any idea how racist this all is? You accuse Muslims (who are almost always dark-skinned people) of being prone to violence and stupidity. You say they follow this tract because their holy writings tell them too, despite the fact that most Muslim clerics would say that those verses don't apply. Just like the book of Joshua doesn't apply, nor does most of Leviticus. Just as we can't deny that there are passages that call for genocide or capital punishment in those books that we have to ignore, they would say the same for those scriptures that call for the death of "infidels."

How do you know that Muslims don't believe that way?

Because I talk to Muslims and I read Muslim literature.

You can't trust Muslims. They'll lie to you.

God. Just. Stop. Please. You realize that if I said, "Never trust a woman," I'd be rightly labeled a sexist misogynist, right? That it wouldn't matter what a woman said, she would always be inferior to my sense of "right", right or wrong. And that is the thrust of what misogyny is. And, if extended to races of people, the fundamental quality of racism. So please, just stop this racism. That's all.



You can't trust the Muslims. My Christian friends and their Christian email forwards told me so. It's in their Koran, which they're too stupid and ugly to read anyway...

*Head. Desk. Head&Desk. Headdesk. Hddsk!*

*Of course it's not.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Strings Attached Are Attached to All of Us

We live in this big, intricate, messed up, imperfect world filled with imperfect humans. And it seems like most of us know that and take that for granted. Most American Evangelical Christians sure do. What many of them don't seem to notice, or at least acknowledge, is that we also live in this interdependent, intricately connected, living, breathing society.

Society is not just a concept. It's not an out-there thing disassociated from our everyday reality. It is very present and it is very real. We may not be able to touch it like the hard oak of this heavy but falling-apart table I like to rest my feet on occasionally, but it is every bit as real as the sweat gleaming off my forehead.

So it bothers me to no little effect when people complain about having to participate in society and act as if they owe it nothing - as were the basic arguments raised this last week over the healthcare ruling from the Supreme Court. It's an argument that the poor are using the government to steal from the rich (rather than the truth that the rich are stealing from the poor), or that we're being forced to buy something we don't need. And for all the problems of the Affordable Care Act - and there are many, many - these reasons don't come into play, but expose a deeper problem in contemporary American society and politics: we believe we do not benefit from the very systems that benefit us and we believe that our benefit is not the result of exploiting the very poor of our country and the world.

But first the good stuff. We benefit largely as a result of shared work. That's how a society functions. Everybody puts in; everybody gets results.

The dreams we have, the work we do, the benefits we enjoy, the language we possess, the identities we carry, the food we eat (less that you hunt and grow), the health care we enjoy, the cars we drive, the streets we roll down, these are all effects of the shared work of society. One cannot decide to not participate. One cannot decide that they owe nothing to society nor that society has not given them and continues to give them what they need and often what they desire. If these people want to live like a hermit, fine. Let them fix their own water, electricity, food. Keep them off our roads. Allow them the privilege of developing their own language for their imaginary conversations with imaginary friends. They need to stop using ours for their fantasies.

Plank road in forest in Tillamook County, Oregon
Look, a socialist road!
Now, if you drive, you have to have insurance, right? Because you're socially responsible for the economic burden that could happen due to any accident that may occur to or as a result of your car. It's part of the price of participating in sharing the roads. Sometimes the cost is nearly unbearable, but when we run into a problem, we're better off for it. That day may not happen for some of us - but it could happen to any of us no matter how safe and responsible we are (or believe we are) as drivers - and that is the point.

Everybody needs healthcare insurance. There is no getting around that. If you don't have it, but something, anything, unexpected pops up (an unidentified lump, an accident, a heart murmur) everybody else pays for it. Everybody needs it. If you don't want it, it doesn't matter. You need it. That's why it's called "insurance."

Everybody shares the load. That's what makes a society. If you can't handle that, never ask for a job, fix your own water, become a hermit. Because we don't deserve to have to share the cost of society with selfish people who take without considering to help and then want to cut off food and survival functions for workers and mothers and children who do or will or want to give back through their sweat, who create wealth for the privileged classes.

Which brings us back to our second point.

American patriots constantly point out how generous the United States is, both in terms of government and private charity. But we don't acknowledge the strings that come attached. We talk about how much we help Haiti and African people but ignore the fact that they are in such dire straights because of oppressive economic lending practices, because we deplete their resources, because we have installed leaders that were horrible for their countries but were good for us.

That's how it's always turned out, in Southeast Asia, in Latin America, in the Pacific... With our influence and money, we get to curry favors and effectually rob what we now deem "developing" countries so that they need to ask for more favors - wherein we or our surrogates come in to effectively own the country and its resources (be it water, energy, diamonds, gold). To add demonic joy, we love playing these countries against each other to distract other countries in the region while we keep them in check (cf, the Middle East).

These are the costs of society that we need to gather and figure how we can do without and how we can run off. We live in Orwellian times. "Freedom" means the freedom of rich white people to steal from most of the rest of the world and not give a sh*t about the rest of us.

We may be free to dream of a better world for us all, but we're not allowed to speak it outloud, for fears that somehow a better world for all is somehow fascist. I believe conservatives should focus more on reducing the costs of healthcare rather than putting all their efforts in oppressing the poor and keeping them from receiving it.

So some things you don't have a choice on. So what? A lot of people don't get to decide whether or not they'll sleep with one eye open or whether or not their home will be collateral damage for our War on Drugs or our War on Terror or our War on War or whatever other euphemism we can figure for Blowing People Up for Political Expediency and to Extend Our Imperialism and Corporate Interests.

Get over it. Get involved in society and help us find better ways to live and act as a civil social humane society.

Until we get to the point where all are protected and truly represented in an equitable system, though, I believe that the government's obligation is to protect the most vulnerable.

I'm a socialist. But I'm one because Jesus and the prophets taught me to be one. If the Christian Right (and most every interaction with people who complain about having to help other people I have had in the last few years has been with a conservative Christian) does not believe in sharing and helping (and it's pretty obvious they don't), and they can't see where the Bible tells us to bear one another's burdens both as neighbors and as citizens through government, I'm not sure what Bible they're reading. Tt's not the Hebrew and Christian one. It's not the one written by Commie Pinkos. Perhaps the Satanic Bible...