06. September 2014 · Comments Off on The War of Zion · Categories: Politics, Religion, Social/Culture · Tags: , ,

Only a few days after the end of hostilities in Gaza, the Zionist-controlled Israeli government  boldly claims another 1000 acres of land in the West Bank.  In other words, they are taking land that belonged to Palestinian families for generations and telling them to get out so they can build “Jewish” settlements for any Jew in the world that wants to live there.

Would that not be a fundamental equivalent to what perhaps Texas would experience if a large group of foreign people united by a religious claim that God gave them the right to take over Texas came in and told the Texans to leave so they can build settlements for anyone else in the world that wants to live there, as long as they belong to their religion? Would we expect the Texans to bow down without a fight? What if those foreigners were so well connected to the hegemonic superpower that they are always guaranteed to overpower whatever the Texans can throw back?  I’m not making this up folks. I’m just changing names.

So in other words, the Zionists, who insist God gave them the title deed to the Levant, are continuing to feed the blow back, which is what the attacks on Israel is… blow black. Inspired by hatred yes, but hatred that itself is encouraged by aggressive Zionist behavior. By this, I am not suggesting that we validate terrorism, I am suggesting that the Zionists stop encouraging it. Land grabs and class structures that take from the Arabs and give to the Jews continue to give Palestinians very compelling reasons to hate them. And if the pattern continues, the more extreme reactions among Palestinians will come to violence and the State of Israel will put on the same act they always do… that THEY are the one’s being attacked first.

The more perspectives I add to the meta, the more I am convinced that the history of modern Israel is not so much a history of frequent multiweek wars… but one long continuous war that started with the Zionist migration of Jews to Palestine around the turn of the 20th century, up to this very moment. What historians try to describe as wars between Israel and it’s enemies are actually battles. Israel is still occupying territories gained in battle in 1967. They also gained territory through a highly unusual example of international diplomacy in 1949 and of course even before that when the Jewish National Fund was gaining territory through hostile economics. Each of these gains were acts of aggression upon the families and communities being conquered. The belligerents are the same, the reasons are the same and the struggle never actually stops, it just deescalates to police actions.

This recent claim to nearly 1000 acres is just a continuation of the aggression, hidden behind the stage curtains of “official peace”. When the more defiant Palestinians manage to scrape up enough battery to throw a punch, Israel will respond with routine air-strikes and THEN the media will call it a war.

So next time Hamas “comes out of the blue” with another offense like launching rockets or kidnapping soldiers, try thinking how it might also be described as yet another counter-attack in an ongoing war that hasn’t stopped in the last 100 years. Something else this perspective reveals is that the aggressions started before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1947, so I think it would be more accurate to describe the driving force of belligerence as the Zionist movement. This extends the possibility that the State of Israel CAN exist without trespass, if the Zionist influences are disengaged.

I think it’s also important to point out that although the Zionist movement claims connections with Judaism it is not a complete representation of the the Jewish people, in fact there is a solid group of Jews that oppose Zionism as an aberration of the faith. Orthodox Jews have organized a political group called the True Torah Jews that denounces the Zionist movement and it’s agressions. In fact these Jews insist that the State of Israel is “diametrically opposed” to the teachings of Judaism. Other Israeli Jews have organized a political group called Peace Now. This group favors compromise and a two-state solution. My hope is that these Jewish activists, the liberals seeking peace and harmony and the conservatives pointing to the discrepancies between the Torah and what the Zionists are doing, will some day, some how get through to a LOT of very thick headed people that Zionism and it’s 100-year war against the Palestinians really isn’t cool.

 

22. March 2007 · Comments Off on Praise for Prayer · Categories: Religion, Social/Culture · Tags:

This may sound weird coming from someone who isn’t necessarily sold on the “God” concept, but I have nevertheless found a purpose to prayer.

I was in the hospital the other day visiting my mother who is recovering from a knee replacement and I heard what I thought was the beginning of an announcement on the PA that visiting hours were expiring but the voice sounded too serene and slow for that kind of business and the words were describing the setting sun and the rising moon at the end of the day. It took me a moment to realize that this was going to be a call to prayer and sure enough, after the poetic prologue it was indeed a call to prayer. After all the hospital was a Catholic enterprise. The contrast of this calm and soothing voice against the normal noise of buzzing and beeping machines and clinical chatter of nurses and doctors struck me. I began to realize that at some level, it didn’t matter if God is tuning into the prayers there is still the benefit of simply allowing the mind to switch gears, if even for a brief moment, from the chatty shallows of taking care of business that seems to dominate everything including commercialized entertainment to the non-profit depths of inner peace.

For those of us that can’t visualize God scratching His chin and nodding His head as we ask for guidance, or favors, there is another word for this type of gear shifting. It’s called meditation and without the need for a response from a higher being the benefits of meditation have proven to be obvious, many times leading to a sense of clarity that allows people to find for themselves the very things that others ask God to find for them. Listening to the soothing voice of the priest on the PA, I found it difficult to imagine that these prayers don’t have the same benefits.

I have to imagine that many of the answered prayers are in reality a simple result of allowing the mind to shift into a meditative mode, enabling the faithful to figure things out on there own. Of course, God never seems to protest the credits given to Him.

08. August 2005 · Comments Off on Intelligent Design in Schools? · Categories: Politics, Religion, Social/Culture · Tags: , ,

So now Bush is pushing schools to teach Intelligent Design,
another battle in the Christian fundamentalist campaign to bring America back to church. I say this because I think if the evolution vs. creationism debate was isolated from the rest of the religious-political crusade there would be far less heat.

The way creationists ignore the simple fact that many evolutionists actually do believe in God and even suggest that evolution is God’s creative process is evidence that this argument is a mere component in the larger struggle between religion and secularism which has nothing to do with God and everything to do with politics. Obviously, evolution does not negate the existence of God. This argument is all about the creationists negating the theory of evolution, a theory that makes God an option.

Intelligent Design is focused on discrediting evolution; this much can be said without argument. But what can be argued is that they are claiming to be “scientifically” disproving evolution. This is where I see the danger. Although the presentations of Intelligent Design come loaded with all the bubbling test tubes, dials and flashing lights that we associate with science, they have yet according to the science community, to prove or disprove anything. Indeed, this isn’t your typically obscure group of lab technicians tucked away in some campus, working toward a whitepaper to be submitted to the scientific community, this is a widely broadcasted effort stocked with lay publications, television shows and even a U.S. president stating that it should be taught in schools… all this aimed at the lay public with the side-note that the scientific community simply doesn’t want to accept it. So it seems to be more than discrediting Darwin, it’s discrediting the science community itself, and secularism in general.

Perhaps, Intelligent Design is really about amazing the gullible public with the bubbling test tubes, dials and flashing lights. This would be an obvious next step for religion which has always made adjustments in their presentation in order to appeal to the people of the time, the image of Jesus, who was a native of the middle east, as a young man of Germanic physique is a great example. Certainly in this modern era where our very society is built on the proven models of science, it would make sense for religion to morph into the image of science.

But what convinces me even more that Intelligent Design is not about science but about religion is the odd way in which the advocates pair religious dogma, always concerned with the absolute truth, with science which has never made claims to absolute truth. Science is merely a language of understanding by which theorists bring their ideas into communal acceptance. Newton and Einstein both did this, presenting their theories as mortal understandings while maintaining a belief that there is still a larger truth yet unknown and perhaps never to be mortally understood. The advocates of Intelligent Design on the other hand, have not yet managed to bring their anti-theories into communal acceptance, which in the simplest terms, means that they have not yet achieved the scientific goal. The fact that they proceed to flood the public forum with claims that they have already scientifically disproved evolution to me only proves that the scientific goal is not as important as simply convincing everyday people that evolution is wrong.

All bubbling test tubes aside, the ID community has completely missed the mark when considering the intention and foundation of science and falls completely in line with the forms and methods of manipulating public opinion, the true forum of organized religion.

Assuming that I’m right, it would be hard to measure the success of the Intelligent Design efforts. Science not really being the issue, Intelligent Design is nevertheless a popular anti-theory, but has it really converted anyone? It seems to me that most people who supported evolution still do and most people who support Intelligent Design were creationists to begin with. Again, this argument seems to be an extension of the religious war waged on secularism. I don’t see any reason to suspect that this will ever change, even if Bush and his allies do succeed in forcing Intelligent Design into public schools.

But I think public schools are going to have an awkward task of trying to teach scientific principles while also suggesting that Intelligent Design qualifies as science. It’s one thing to present alternatives to Darwinism or even to secularism but it’s another thing entirely to dissolve the structure of science itself. Personally, I would prefer that schools simply start teaching creationism as what it is, an alternate theory extracted from scripture despite science.

12. May 2005 · Comments Off on Religion vs Enlightenment · Categories: Religion, Social/Culture · Tags: , ,

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything… I’ve been kind of busy working on a very absorbing project. But I thought I’d share my response to someone who recently sent me an article about the role of religion in our society. The article points out that religion stands in the way of progress. My friend remarked that he is not religious but has moral codes of his own but wonders if others would degenerate of they didn’t have the imaginary “hell stick” waved over them.

My response as follows…

I think most people have moral codes… Of course religious folks get them from whatever “vending machines” they believe in, which is fine, but if those churches and bibles weren’t there I think most of them would find their moral codes on their own anyway, just like secular people do. I think the people that need the fear of God to keep them in line are the exceptions, which is why I’m grateful for Bible studies in prisons.

I think it’s human nature to want to be good – it’s really a survival instinct. Humans can’t survive outside of their tribes so they need to fit in. I think that’s the basis for moral codes. What’s interesting is the way some religions hijack this human nature by offering proprietary codes and convincing people that without them there would only be sin and darkness. This results in a transfer of natural power from individuals to figures of authority… Perhaps that’s the purpose of religion?

I think this is what the article points out – that religion denies the natural human powers of discovery. The first story in the Bible is about the equation of knowledge to sin and it’s all downhill from there. At every turn, biblical guidelines are channeled through “special figures” and heaved onto the “flock” with a weight that crushes their ability to discover for themselves.

On the opposite end of religious anti-knowledge is enlightenment, as prescribed by Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), which suggests the use of our natural human ability to discover. What’s interesting is the noticeable lack of war and crime among Buddhists. Another reason to doubt that a recession in religion would result in a degradation of humanity.

03. April 2005 · Comments Off on Schiavo and the System · Categories: Politics, Religion, Social/Culture · Tags: , , , , , , ,

The emotional case of Terri Schiavo it seems, has come to symbolize one of the biggest problems in the American social system. The question that asks… How does our “system” handle moral questions around which citizens are in strong disagreement? It seems that some moral questions are too powerful to be contained within the democratic answer of “majority rule”.

I found an interesting post by Professor Stephen Bainbridge, a corporate law professor at UCLA, on his blog, Terry Schiavo, Congress and First Principles, that introduces an approach to looking at this problem by isolating the engines of our system; the culture of life, limited government, federalism and rule of law. Although I disagree with much of what he says I nevertheless found in considering his dissection an approach to what I think may be an answer.

The culture of life:

It seems ironic to me that religious people, who believe in a “life-after”, cling to earthly life more tenaciously than non-religious people who believe they will simply disappear. But regardless of what people believe, I think the culture of life should be governed by personal choice and religion should be a personal choice. I think people are generally uncomfortable with death and so they avoid it’s contemplation. This means that when misfortune falls upon their bodies the natural process (designed by God or otherwise) is subject to interference by the man-made, billable technology of hospitals and the abscence of any personal choice to avoid it.

Limited Government:

I think the only business the government has in this domain comes in two processes. The first is dealing with the cases in which people failed to make a personal choice and the second is to limit the number of times that happens. I think the government should require that people file their choices, maybe as part of the tax filing process. However they do it, they need to start limiting their liability while encouraging the churches and the people themselves to take more responsibility for these tough questions.

Federalism:
A concept in which it’s virtue and vice are one and the same. Much can be said about the advantages and the dangers of localized power and the moment in which the federal government overrules the state is a perpetual argument. But the line between state and nation is severely one-dimensional, based on nothing other than geographic territory. There are more lines to consider and the line between social convention and personal choice (religious or otherwise) is one of them. I think federalism is over-rated and maybe it’s time for people to understand that this is an age in which other lines can be brought to the same level, such as the lines between organizations that can better answer the questions regarding the culture of life.

Rule of Law:
The judicial process is often slammed for being slanted or self-serving… The simple fact is that no matter which way they go, that charge will remain. A conservative ruling gets slammed by liberals and a liberal ruling gets slammed by conservatives. The problem is in the gap between the general law of the people and the specific application to the person. There there is a lot of room for interpretation. Since this is by design, I don’t think narrowing the gap with more explicit laws from congress is the answer – I think once again, the reduction of government liability applies here by limiting the cases, not the judgment.

I think most people can find agreement with an organization of their choice with very little effort, whether it’s a church, the ACLU, or whatever they feel represents their best interest. So it seems silly to me that we fight endlessly to force everyone under federal jurisdiction to conform to one answer when there is no reason why we can’t simply let the people decide for themselves. The living will is a step in the right direction, but as long as it remains optional, the government will continue to be liable for choices people never get around to making for themselves. I think limited government should start with a requisite that people file these choices for themselves. This should be an easy process, maybe included in the tax forms that we file. If people are too uncomfortable to make the choice for themselves, they should be able to select a proxy to make the choice for them, such as a spouse or a church. After all, this is the age of global networks and democratization where interests can be carried from the individual to the global level instantly. If such a system were already in place, Terri Schiavo’s destiny would have been decided by her own personal choice, not a court.

20. February 2004 · Comments Off on A feeble attempt at "legalese" by a homophobe · Categories: Politics, Religion, Social/Culture · Tags: ,

I’m trying to understand the conservative hangup on gay marriage. I can understand the tax hangups because taxes have a direct impact on everyone, but gay couples getting married? Honestly – who are they hurting?

In my search for the answer I found this conservative opinion offered by Jeff Jackson. It’s a little overstated so I will try to summarize to save you some time. Jackson, opens up with a bold statement… “In America you don’t have the right to marry.” He goes on to explain that marriage is a “side product” of a right that we do enjoy and refer to as religious freedom and that marriage, being a religious institution, is a benefit of the right to religion, but in itself, is not a right at all. The obvious assessment here is that “marriage, in it’s most basic form, is not a government institution; it is a religious institution.”

Therefore, the government cannot define the rules of marriage. He further enforces this with a mention of the 1st Amendment, which he explains, prohibits the government from interfering with religious institutions.

However, he does bring up the point that governments, such as ours, that are based on religion have co-opted marriage
as a “legally binding status that confers upon their people certain privileges (and in some instances punishments)”; which explains the marriage license and various government policies about legally married people.

I believe the point he is making is that the government can base statutory laws on religious institutions but they cannot manipulate the laws of the religious institution itself. It’s the only point he makes really. He does make an effort to justify the point by diving into some far-fetched scenarios to prove that if marriage was a legally defined right, people would be forced, unwillingly, into marriages… So if you enjoy twisted logic, it’s there for you, but really, the entire article brings up just that one lonely point, that the rules of marriage are off-limits to government, making all the appeals to government by gays moot.

Of course his point makes a pretty weak road block. For one, the government could easily provide the same legal benefits to gay couples based on a non-marital partnership without ever touching the “religious definition of marriage”. Just call it a “family partnership” status available to any couple committed to a family unit. This way the state uses one set of rules and religions use another, no interference and no 1st amendment violations. This is already the case for my marriage… My wife is Roman Catholic and I’m Protestant. The ever uptight Catholic church refuses to recognize our marriage but the state does and as a result, we’ve enjoyed the legal benefits of being married for 20 years!
(So, stick that up your religious ass..!)

Also, I can’t help but point out that according to the 1st amendment logic that Jackson belabors in his article, the addition of
a new Constitutional amendment to “define” marriage as a union between man and woman is actually a violation.

Anyway, although I have found an attempt to leverage existing rules to invalidate gay marriage, I have yet to find a
logical motive for seeking the invalidation in the first place. So I ask again, what’s the hangup? The best guess I can come up with is that the religious right is populated with homophobes and they just don’t have the stregnth to admit it.

12. February 2004 · Comments Off on Creationsists · Categories: Religion, Social/Culture · Tags:

What amuses me about creationists is the effort spent discrediting evolution by scientifically prooving it’s imposibility, thereby sweeping aside the “impossible theory” and making room for what they basically explain to be a miracle…

…which is to say, true despite being impossible.