Category ArchiveBlog Against Theocracy
By James Killus
3:15 And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to
Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and
offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a
feast to all his servants.
3:16 Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and
stood before him.
3:17 And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one
house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house.
3:18 And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered,
that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no
stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house.
3:19 And this woman’s child died in the night; because she overlaid
3:20 And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while
thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead
child in my bosom.
3:21 And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it
was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was
not my son, which I did bear.
3:22 And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the
dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the
living is my son. Thus they spake before the king.
3:23 Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth,
and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the
dead, and my son is the living.
3:24 And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword
before the king.
3:25 And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half
to the one, and half to the other.
3:26 Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king,
for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her
the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it
be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.
3:27 Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and
in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.
3:28 And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged;
and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in
him, to do judgment.
4:1 So king Solomon was king over all Israel
The story of the true mother was a tale spread by Solomon’s people at a time of civil crisis.
Solomon had an elder brother, Adonijah, who was the rightful heir to the throne, (or had, at least, a more legitimate claim than Solomon) but Adonijah had already been executed at Solomon’s command, along with a number of Adonijah’s supporters.
Solomon’s tale of justice was actually a warning to any remaining supporters of Adonijah. “I am not the legitimate heir,” he was telling them. “I’ll not hesitate to split the Kingdom, just as my father David warred against King Saul.” The “wisdom of God” that was in him, was, in fact, the ruthless calculation of a warlord. “If I cannot be King,” he told the people of Israel, “No one will.”
But history is strange, and is written by the victors. So ruthless cunning is now recorded for all time as wisdom and justice.
For all those that would seek to impose religious doctrine on a nation,
a world, a people, I would simply counter as a person of faith, that
faith requires freedom of belief, and in this strong sense, separation
of church and state. No faith can come of imposition. Choice is
always a requirement of faith. Confronted with the unknown, I need my
brothers and sisters of different beliefs to inform my understanding
and my choices. I may find my roots in a religious tradition
(Christianity, in my case), but realize that my exercise of faith can
never come from authoritative attempts to determine who I am and what I
Furthermore, faith, faithfully exercised, is generous. It invites
contrary views, because it knows that truth, in any deepened form that
we may know it, requires our facets of experience to come together,
from our deepest present understanding, to form a more complete and
universal knowledge. Faith, as deep spiritual interest, requires a
similar honoring, an engagement, understanding, intuition, and
experience of mystery, not a battle of wills. For the will, for all its
great power, is still quite attached with the ego, the interlocutor,
not the advocate, of the spirit. To betray faith to the will, to
political will or other, to collapse church and state is to exalt the
world over the spirit and to betray faith rather than uphold it.
Much jeering has spewed forth in the current battle between the
“reality-based” community (largely secular acolytes of scientific
empiricism and Enlightenment tradition) and the so-called “faith-based”
community (a largely fundamentalist “we-create-reality-you-study-it”
I am a scientist by training, a philosopher by nature, and a person of
faith by choice. In my experience, reality emanates in large part
from faith. Our lives themselves are exercises of faith. The meaning
we construct, the purposes we pursue, the poetry we create cannot be
merely captured or inspired by cause-and-effect, mechanistic thinking.
Conversely no faith worth its name can call itself faith while
insisting on rejecting rationality. Though faith may acknowledge the
non-rational, something beyond the merely rational, it should be secure
enough to embrace what is in front of its face. Without this faithful
engagement with empirical reality, personal suffering and social
injustice could be ignored (or victims blamed), and the central and
ubiquitous religious tenets of human compassion and loving-kindness
would be rendered void.
Reductive scientism and irrational religionism fail because they seek
to impose rather than embrace. Faith requires embrace. Let us work
toward a church and a state that eschew all authoritarianism and
embrace the challenge of this faith called democracy.
First, the update: Dr. Free Ride’s much anticipated follow-up to this extremely popular post will be arriving here tomorrow. Don’t miss it!
And now, the Thank-You’s:
The WAAGNFNP would like to thank Blue Gal and all the co-sponsors and organizers of Blog Against Theocracy Week(end). You worked your asses off to make it all possible, and it was a huge success. Thanks for bringing so many people, both religious and not, together to talk, sound the alarm, and share ideas about getting active before it’s too late. Here’s a link to the blogswarm participants. Lots of good reading in there, so check it out.
It is with great pride and an overflowing heart that I proclaim the WAAGNFNP made a truly outstanding showing for Blog Against Theocracy Week. From Friday -Monday, we had four tremendous posts offering unique and insightful angles on both the threat growing theocratic influence poses to our democracy, as well as reasons to be optimistic for the future. For those of you who have not had a chance to read these fine posts (and the extremely thoughtful discussion in the comments - a staple of this nascent community blog which is quickly making it a “must read”), please take the time to do so. Just scroll on down. You’ll be glad you did.
We actually received a total of six BAT Week contributions, but we’ll save those last two for future posting because the spectre of theocracy and the importance of keeping the church and state separate are always timely topics.
So a huge, no, a GIANT thank you to all our BAT Week contributors and commenters. Surely Gojira is smiling upon us all.
In honor of our fine BAT Week posts, I ask the following questions:
Continue Reading »
Blog Against Theocracy Posted by peter ramus, 09 Apr 2007 03:25 am
[A WAAGNFNP Special - Blog Against Theocracy Week: Expanded Edition!]
In the United Sates the policy of openly worshipping Undergod in public schools has a long and troubling history.
Oh, of course for the politicians this is a red meat issue, presumed to stir the deepest feelings of the fervid masses of believers and set them marching in droves with their pitchforks and staves and torches down to the nearest polling booth at election time to give a big boost up to the candidate most loudly trumpeting the right, —no, the solemn duty — of each and every otherwise ignorant child to voice allegiance to both the nation and to Undergod in the self-same breath on a daily basis as a regular part of the curriculum.
Only a few years back one tike’s father, appalled by the insistent reference to said deity his innocent child was being subjected to by the standard school pledge of allegiance, won a preliminary judgement in Federal Court that Undergod be stricken from the pledge, and sparked a most curious and heated uproar, as I recall.
Purely out of comity I rarely refer in public to the disturbing tenets of my own so-called “religious” beliefs, and even more rarely do I take advantage of the opportunity so often presented in this day and age to join in the heated discussion of others’. However, as the contentions surrounding Undergod don’t seem likely to dissipate soon, and as in the midst of even the most fractious debate a moderating word must eventually be spoken, I offer up my view on this matter for whatever calming effect it may provide.
The famous First Commandment of that well-known book, The Bible, hallows an insult, the ordinal, founding insult required of all the initiates of all the bewildering variety of groups claiming to adhere to that book’s strictures in some sense or other, an insult offered up as the core necessary and sufficient first nugget of the testament of true faith, pithily given in one exclusionary statement: I spurn your god. Oh, do I ever. Words to that effect, you see.
To my mind this is brisk and direct and useful in establishing the groundrules for further religious conversation, and I have no qualms at all following at least this far along the proposed path of proper religion sketched out there by the Bible. I spurn your god in a most thoroughgoing and adamantine way, — I do. Your god is as nothing to me, I swear, and I’m happy to acknowledge we’re on the same page as far as this goes. But all this pledging faith to Undergod in schools? A step too far, is what I’m saying. I won’t go there.
Blog for Religious Freedom graphic by Liz.
By Frank L. Cocozzelli
“Give me their names!” Demanded Bill Donohue, honcho of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights, when the artist Cosimo Cavallaro stated during a TV interview that two priests wanted to display his statue, Chocolate Jesus.
The confrontation took place during a recent edition of Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN. While Cavallaro remained dignified, Donohue was bombastic: “You’re lucky I’m not as mean [as the Taliban], because you might lose more than your head” he declared, displaying his usual Un-Christian scowl..
Donohue, if nothing else, is consistent, having once said, that bringing back the Inquisition “… is awfully tempting.”
But Cavallaro was wise to Donohue. He stood his ground — and refused to name names. He defended his right to express his beliefs according to his own conscience, free of coercion and called the Catholic League president the bully that he truly is.
It seems that Donohue and his Catholic League cannot handle the supposition that a Catholic artist would express his ideal of Jesus in a manner very different from his own. Why? Because Cavallaro had the nerve to cast Jesus in chocolate, crucified in the nude (as the Romans actually carried out such executions). Another Bill Donohue dust-up that is designed more to create anger and hatred for the freedom of expression rather than to further an ethic of self-discipline, charity and tolerance that signifies Catholicism at its finest, just as its Founder meant it to be. The self-styled Grand Inquisitor, once again, failing to see the forest for the trees.
“Give me their names. ”
These are chilling words that have echoed throughout history. It is the demand of agents of authoritarianism. Embedded within its use is the pernicious offer of “perhaps I’ll go easier on you if you give me someone more important for me to destroy.”
In our own recent American experience Senator Joe McCarthy demanded the same of witnesses who appeared before his Senate Committee on Government Operations that he chaired; as did members of the House on Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). We know what happened to some of those whose names were given; blacklisting, bankruptcy, family break-up and even suicide. Names were demanded for the purpose of instilling fear and stifling dissent.
We can easily imagine what Bill Donohue would do with the names of those two priests. Being the bully that is, he would most likely give their names over to Church hierarchy-perhaps Cardinal Egan or even to my own faith’s version of HUAC, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome. In case you didn’t know, the CDF’s former name was The Office of the Inquisition and was headed by the former Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.
If Cavallaro had given the names of two priests, Donohue would have made their lives hell. After all, that is what bullies drunk on power do to others less powerful. Sadly, Donohue has more and more friends in the Vatican who think like him; men who will stifle anything that threatens their narrow interpretation of faith.
The truth is that their Catholicism lacks confidence. They fear new ideas and different forms of expression. And because of its own self-constricting nature, their Catholicism demands the need to control the freedom of thought that exists within the surrounding secular society. What the Catholic League and its ultra-orthodox Pharisees offer is not spiritual hope, but a faith of anxiety. It is an aspiration of the church and state as one acting as the gatekeeper to salvation but attained at the cost of both government and Catholicism defiled.
In order to carry out his increasingly theocratic agenda, Donohue cynically uses his faith as a prop to undermine liberalism. He abandons coolly reasoned discussion in favor a hysterically exaggerated accusations of anti-Catholicism; a technique designed to push the emotional buttons of faction-all while often ignoring real expressions of anti-Catholic bigotry of his fellow Religious Right provocateurs.
But as history has shown, the inflexible often become the victims of their own set ways. Such religion crumbles from its own inability to foster agreement and cooperation. Corruption is often hidden in the name of the image of sanctity. As we have witnessed, reasoned dissent naturally arises. Perhaps we will even soon see the Catholic will be the Joseph N. Welch to Donohue’s Joe McCarthy. Welsh, a hero of American democracy stood up to McCarthy–who was also demanding names– saying in the infamous Senate Army-McCarthy hearings:
“Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?”
We now have the example of an artist standing-up to the bully on national television. I hope it will give others the nerve to do the same.
Oh, and if Donohue fails to get Cosimo Cavallaro to give up the names of the priests who wanted to display his Chocolate Jesus, don’t feel sorry for him–he can always wage his culture war on those candy companies that sell chocolate crosses around this time of the year.
Frank L. Cocozzelli is a director with the Institute for Progressive Christianity and writes a weekly column at Talk to Action concerning both Liberalism and the Catholic Right. This article originally appeared Talk to Action.
Thanks to Liz for this graphic.
For more than a decade, I have been a proponent, member, supporter, contributor, advocate, and activist for various groups including MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), and CCLE (Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics). At the core of my participation and activities has been my deeply held conviction that human beings share one absolute and essential core liberty: the freedom to think for themselves. Enlightenment philosophers, the “Founding Fathers” of the US, hell even Maslow—all recognized and acknowledged that the one constant in the expression of all human rights and liberties is cognitive freedom.
Among the various historical attacks upon cognitive liberty has been the repression of, and coercive violence against, freethinking by religious authorities. If the Spanish Inquisition doesn’t pop into your head, or the Taliban, then I suppose you are blissfully unaware of exemplars of these sorts of perpetrations and crimes against humanity. Religious leaders in the United States in the latter half of the 1800’s were able to successfully lobby Congress to pass laws prohibiting American Indians from celebrating and participating in their own religious activities. And so it goes on, and on.
Though I am not intentionally channeling Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett (both for whom I have deep respect), I propose that we do a grave injustice to the minds of our forthcoming seven generations when we allow, indeed insist, that religious leaders in the US demand that they be free to inculcate their theocratic beliefs in the minds of the children.
Hidden in the beauties of Babylon
The civilized behavioral notoriety
The more evil the empire
The more paranoid the society
Building to the new world order
We’re expected to carry the stone
Emperors and the feeding Class
Human beings being used up fast
The miners keep on mining
Intelligence is the mother-load
Imagination as an energy source
In this predators way of dining
Defining how and what we think
As we’re led to the way to believe
We call thought
Our reality rides
In how we perceive
In the ways of being lost and alone
Who runs from their doubt and fear
In the mask of everything’s normal
Who’s not feeling or seeing too clear
Could be we’re being programmed
Anyway our spirit bleeds
All over our lives.
Our lives become fuel
For predator needs
Hidden in the beauties of Babylon
The civilized behavioral notoriety
The more evil the empire
The more paranoid the society
This John Trudell poem is my daily reminder that we cannot, must not, continue to allow our children’s minds to be mined for power and energy, especially by religions. It is the propagation and perpetuation of sectarian religious ideologies and creeds that are being mined from the minds of our nation’s children. They are fodder in the future battles of theocratically-driven agents whose sole duty and purpose is to expand their congregational flocks to control the destiny and future of the planet. Convert the children and they will become the soldiers of the future wars, guided not by service to their inalienable rights, but rather by their sworn allegiance to religious authority.
Do I really need to mention the Academy Award nominee documentary: JESUS CAMP? Good lordy, the promo enough should freak you out:
At a summer camp for Evangelical Christians, children have their faith reinforced and their ideology honed by the camp’s founder, Becky Fischer, whose stated objective is to “take back America for Christ.” Under Fischer’s tutelage, the children speak in tongues and pray for the appointment of pro-life Supreme Court justices.
This is just one particularly vulgar and obscene perversity in the assault on the minds of the children. It is not, unfortunately, an isolated case. Legal teams encourage religiously misguided youth to stage actions to establish claims against local and regional governmental agencies, particularly schools, hoping to erect protocols and precedents reinforcing the theocratic intentionality. Pastors and corporate ministers shout from their pulpits (bully ones on broadcast and cable networks) inflaming the faithful to push their children towards belief in some rapturous salvation, thereby increasing the willingness of the children to commit acts of violence and hideously-vile intolerance.
The children are being mined. We are allowing these sub-humans to drill into their minds and extract political, social, and economic power from them. And as with any other mining process, we create the waste and tailings. Children intentionally left behind, labeled with various syndromes and disorders simply because they refuse to be drilled to their spiritual and psychological cores by zealots bent on accumulation of power and wealth. I am pretty sure I read once that that guy Jesus said something about protecting and keeping from harm the children. Well his acolytes are doing a really terrible job at that.
The Grand Canyon of the Colorado is recognized as one of the greatest wonders of the natural world, breathtaking in its incredible splendor as seen from the rim, and at river level. It is not just an icon of beauty, however, it is a solemn witness to the mighty power of God … the beautiful rock strata of the Canyon, with their evidence of deposition under widespread waters, speak of His world-convulsing judgment at the time of the great Flood. Similarly, the mile-deep canyon itself, which could never have been carved out by the waters of the present river, tells of a time when a great damned up lake full of water from the flood suddenly broke and a mighty hydraulic monster roared down toward the sea, digging deeply path it had chosen along the way.
Tom Vail in Grand Canyon, a Different Story (2003)
Thus begins a book about a new myth about an old myth; a book that lays claim to one of the greatest geological marvels and open air textbooks in the world. It’s a book of creative and fanciful musings - at best a hypothesis - presented to fit a creation myth as old as mankind (e.g., Epic of Gilgamesh, Genesis). But it’s more; it’s become a textbook in the science curriculum of the fundamentalist Christian universities and colleges. It’s science – devoid of the encumbrance of the methodology of science – for a new Theocracy.
A view of the Canyon from Guano Point, East Grand Canyon, Hualapai Nation, AZ.
Dateline STL (March 28, 2007): I have returned from my Ministry of Geology and Glitter (MOGG) junket to the wilds of the American Southwest and would like to thank our glorious Minister of Justice for extending a gracious invitation to share the results of my fact-finding mission with the Party. First of all, I have to post a disclaimer: In no way shape or form has Jack Abramoff influenced or subsidized any MOGG activities. Second of all, I am pleased to report to the membership that the state of the Southwest is good.
The MOGG entourage first encampment was an abandoned ranch near St. Johns, AZ., complete with Mesozoic Era, late Triassic Period Chinle Formation outcrop décor…
ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE MINISTRY OF OFFENSE AND DEFENSE
As speaker of the More Radical than the Radical Caucus Caucus, I argued strenuously that the Party should endorse the slogan After Theocracy, Revolution! - but my motion was voted down in the Central Committee. This humble blog will therefore be turned over to those who blog against theocracy for now; we expect all loyal Party members to contribute.
Please note the dates: April 6-8. The WAAGNFNP blog will have fresh, vibrant, gripping new posts all weekend long in support of BAT Week(end). Those of you in the habit of doing strange and bizarre things on the weekend that, for whatever reason, take you away from your computers, are asked to please adjust your schedules accordingly. (Seriously, we hope you’ll take a little time out to support and acknowledge the efforts of our fine, hard-working contributors).
In the meantime, this is an OPEN THREAD for all your ranting, grand-standing, pet issue, shout-out, baseball season-opening, networking, and squirrel-blasting needs.
Tribunus Laticlavius, MoOaD.
It’s happening April 6 -8, 2007. I first learned about this at PZ’s place, where I was directed to the ringleader of this esteemed event: Blue Gal, who now has a site devoted to it here. Mock, Paper, Scissors designed the cool logo (which gets better the longer you look at it), and is deeply involved with putting this all together, as is The Neural Gormet.
*Whew!* That’s a lot of credits. Hope I didn’t leave anyone out.
But now to the heart of the matter: The WAAGNFNP needs to be all over this. We need to be loud and proud on this one, people, and not simply because this dangerous melding of government with religion distracts people from focusing on their personal relationship with Astaroth and becoming One with the Vision of Gojira™ - the necesary prerequisites toward hastening the arrival of the Giant Nuclear Fireball.
So here’s your opportunity to show your WAAGNFNP Party Patriotism and click that Submit a Post link above. Officially, BAT Week goes from April 6 -8. But the Ministry of Justice is more than happy to start early and finish late if we have enough submissions. Go ahead, make us blog administrators work overtime processing all the great material you send in. It will definitely be a labor of love.
Remember, BAT Week is about how keeping religion and government separate gives us all more freedom, including the freedom from religion. It’s not a simple religion-bashing exercise. That being said, the good news is there’s plenty of room for participation, even for folks who express themselves in ways other than words. To quote Neural Gourmet:
The idea is simple. Just post something related to, and in support of, the separation of church and state each of those three days. Something big, something small, artistic, musical, textual or otherwise. The topic is your choosing. Whether your thing is stem cell research, intelligent design/Creationism, abortion rights, etc., it’s all good. Separation of church and state impacts so many issues and is essential.
See that? You can submit something artsy, not just wordsy, if you’d like. (Not that wordsy can’t be artsy, of course. But you know what I mean).
So saddle up people, and get ready to ride! When this thing is done, we want everyone to be saying, “Damn…did you see the WAAGNFNP during Blog Against Theocracy Week? They freakin’ tore the Roof off that Sucker!”