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Before rushing out door to class -

Okay, so this document that the Vatican just released - the one forcibly shoving gays right back into the closet?

It is just me, or does using the phrase "deeply rooted homosexual tendencies" sound like the Church is admitting that homosexuality is a wee bit more than a 'choice'?

Pope Man - I do think you done fucked up there, boy....
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Israeli Doctor: Clot May Have Killed Jesus

Dr. Benjamin Brenner, a researcher at the Rambam Medical Center in the Israeli port city of Haifa, said he was publicizing his theory to raise awareness pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal disorder often associated with long-distance air travel.

Way to go, Mr. Pimp My Flavor-of-the-Month Medical Cause.

"What they are doing is the autopsy of the physical body, which is always interesting from an academic standpoint," said Stephen Pfann, a Bible scholar in Jerusalem. "But if people concentrate on that part of the event alone they are missing the most important part, which is the spiritual suffering."

I think that would be a good thing to point out next time you go visit someone in the hospital - "Hey, just think of this as a good opportunity to work on your spiritual suffering."

::headdesk::
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Goodbye, Mr. Pope-Man Dude. Godspeed and all that.

Anyone wonder what the next Mr. Pope-Man Dude is going to be like?

I'm not Catholic and pretty much couldn't care less for my own purposes, but I can't help thinking that this is still going to affect all of us, religious affiliations notwithstanding.

'Cause see, an awful lot of people, rather than thinking for themselves, count on whoever happens to be Pope at the time to do all that nasty thinking for them.

This therefore means that whoever is Pope has quite a bit of power.

Granted, power over a lot of spineless twats, but a lot of those twats can vote and hold picket signs.

Not meaning to be directly insulting to the people who just happen to be Catholic and still maintain some semblance of intelligent, rational, independent thought. Y'all have my sympathies. Hope you get a nice shiny new Pope at the earliest possible convenience. Keep an eye on that Papal Smoke Stack for your high-tech bulletin of ascension.

You know, there really should be a game of Risk that divides up the world, not into countries, but into religious affiliations. Different colors for Christian, Islam, Buddhist, etc. - and don't forget the Jews because everyone gets to gang up and pick on them, right? And then see which religious organization gnaws their way to World Domination. Maybe you get an extra miracle with every role instead of an extra army. Have to think about that. I don't know how you'd divide up all the subfactions, i.e., Christian = Catholic and Protestant but then Catholic = Eastern Orthodox, Reformation, etc. and Protestant = Baptist, Episcopal, Seventh Day Adventist, etc., then there's Islaam = Shiite, Sunni, etc. - damn, ran out of colors; going to have to start putting stripes and polka dots on pieces just to keep track of everyone - and totally have so many splinter groups and factions left to play with - what FUN! Or maybe give them random object markers like in Monopoly. Oh, man - this could be such a blast!

...

I don't suppose it's obvious that I'm not getting enough sleep lately, is it...?

Back to work...
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Okay, so you don't actually get to buy one of these web-toed, babbling bible-bangers - but you can see that a worthwhile organization can profit from one - and all for a cause that will keep them sleepless and gnashing their teeth in ecclesiastical fury for ages - and what better kind of gift is there than that?

Turn a Prostester into a Pledge for Planned Parenthood!

Link courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] flemco, bless 'im.
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From Snopes, in regards to, not the appointment, but the re-appointment of Dr. Hager:

===========================================

In December 2002, W. David Hager was one of eleven physicians appointed to the Food and Drug Administration's Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs, a commitee whose job it is to evaluate data and make recommendations on the safety and effectiveness of marketed and experimental drugs for use in obstetrics, gynecology, and related specialties. Dr. Hager is a part-time professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University Kentucky College of Medicine and a well-known specialist on gynecologic infections, and therefore at first blush his appointment to this committee would seem a good fit.

However, he is also vehemently pro-life and has vigorously played a part in the campaign to get the FDA to withdraw its approval of mifepristone (RU-486), a drug that terminates pregnancies. He is indeed the author of a number of books in which he's advocated prayer and the reading of the Scriptures as cures for medical ills.

Dr. Hager makes no bones about his beliefs but says they won't compromise his judgment: "Yes, I'm pro-life. But that's not going to keep me from objectively evaluating medication. I believe there are some safety concerns (about mifepristone) and they should be evaluated."

Contrary to the claim made in the now widely-circulated e-mail decrying his appointment, Dr. Hager says he does not deny birth-control prescriptions to unmarried women. However, Time magazine reported that "In his private practice, two sources familiar with it say, Hager refuses to prescribe contraceptives to unmarried women."

The appointment is a done deal, and Dr. Hager is now part of this committee (although, perhaps as a result of the controversy raised by this message, he was not appointed to chair the committee).

In June 2004, Dr. Hager was reappointed to the committee for a further year. Immediately after the re-election of President Bush, the e-mail decrying the appointment of Dr. Hager was circulated anew.

================================================

Sucks.
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From my e-mail. And I'm sorry to say, I don't think even a mass influx of angry e-mail would make any kind of difference - why the fuck would Bush start listening to anyone opposes him now, as opposed to before he convinced himself of his supposed 'mandate?'

This is an evil fucking world we live in, folks.
========================================================

Subject: The Bush Agenda for women

OK. Its time once again to take a stand. The Pres is at it again.

And so it begins...

Hager FDA appointment: President Bush has announced his plan to select Dr.W. David Hager to head up the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA)Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee. This committee has not met for more than two years, during which time its charter lapsed. As a result, the Bush Administration is tasked with filling all eleven positions with new members. This position does not require Congressional approval.

The FDA's Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee makes crucialdecisions on matters relating to drugs used in the practice of obstetrics, gynecology and related specialties, including hormone therapy, contraception, treatment for infertility, and medical alternatives to surgical procedures for sterilization and pregnancy termination. Dr. Hager is the author of "As Jesus Cared for Women: Restoring Women Then and Now." The book blends biblical accounts of Christ healing women with case studies from Hager's practice. His views of reproductive health care are far outside the mainstream for reproductive technology. Dr. Hager is a practicing OB/GYN who describes himself as "pro-life" and refuses to prescribe contraceptives to unmarried women.

In the book Dr. Hager wrote with his wife, entitled "Stress and the Woman's Body," he suggests that women who suffer from premenstrual syndrome should seek help from reading the bible and praying.

As an editor and contributing author of "The Reproduction Revolution: AChristian Appraisal of Sexuality Reproductive Technologies and the Family," Dr. Hager appears to have endorsed the medically inaccurate assertion that the common birth control pill is an abortifacient.

We are concerned that Dr. Hager's strong religious beliefs may color his assessment of technologies that are necessary to protect women's lives or to preserve and promote women's health. Dr. Hager's track record of using religious beliefs to guide his medical decision-making makes him a dangerous and inappropriate candidate to serve as chair of this committee. Critical drug public policy and research must not be held hostage by anti-abortion politics. Members of this important panel should be appointed on the basis of science and medicine, rather than politics and religion. American women deserve no less.

There is something you can do. Below is a letter to be sent to the White House, opposing the placement of Hager. Please copy all the text of this email and paste it into a fresh email; then sign your name below and SEND THIS TO EVERY PERSON YOU KNOW WHO IS CONCERNED ABOUT WOMEN'S RIGHTS.

Every 10th person please forward e-mail to president@whitehouse.gov

I oppose the appointment of Dr. W. David Hager to the FDA Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee. Mixing religion and medicine is unacceptable in a policy-making position. Using the FDA to promote a political agenda is inappropriate and seriously threatens women's health. Members of this important panel should be appointed on the basis of science and medicine, rather than politics and religion.

American women deserve no less.

1. Chuck Higgins, Santa Fe, NM

================================================================

I applaud you, Chuck. You have more faith than I do.
my_window_seat: (Hank)
Christian Exodus - Non-profit organization dedicated to creating a Christian homeland in North America via the secession of a US State from the Union.

See, if we get them to all to move one state - and South Carolina, you are sooooo welcome to them - it will be that much easier to keep an eye on them.

Especially after we put up the electrified fence.
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I've been working on one of two papers due, respectively, on Monday and Tuesday. I am within a sharp, pointy instrument's blade of finishing the 'fun' one; a "Create a Religion" paper - that desparately needs just a wee bit o' trimming to make the final cut. It can't be any longer than three pages, double-spaced, or off with my head - and I am three lines over my limit.

I've been reading and re-reading, and I'm getting to the point where I've started adding as much as I'm trimming. I must siesta from this task or my head will go kablooey.

So if you're of a mind to practice the ol' slash-and-hack - by all means, have at it.

Religion Paper: 'The Play's the Thing' )
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In the Hindu tradition, time is divided into world cycles, and each world cycle is divided into four ages, or yugas.

Dharma - the moral order in the world; action and its direct results in the present and the future - is natural in the first age. The second age has humanity being taught their proper roles in society. In the third age there is darkness; revealed values are no longer recognized, people lose their altruism and willingness for self-denial, and there are no more saints.

The final age, Kali Yuga, sees the world at its worst, "with egotism, ignorance, recklessness, and war rampant." According to Hindu calendar, we are now living in a Kali Yuga period, described in the Vishnu Purana (Book IV, Chapter 24 for you scholarly types) as follows:

When society reaches a stage where property confers rank, wealth becomes the only source of virtue, passion the sole bond of union between husband and wife, falsehood the source of success in life, sex the only means of enjoyment, and when outer trappings are confused with outer religion..."

There's a song in all this, but I think Bob Dylan would have to be the one to write it.

I don't have the heart for it.

Or the time, with all the homework I have left to do.

And yes, one of my classes is a Religion class. Guess which chapter I'm on right now?
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I should have tried to write this earlier, but Mannie called and distracted me for a few hours with yet more stories about Things I Think I Could Have Lived Without Knowing About the Gay Culture. Such as, the website dedicated to describing and rating the various merits of 'cruising' spots in every town and hamlet in the world. Yay, verily. I give you:

Squirt.org

Yeah. I'll never sit on another public park bench again. EVAR.

Anyway...

What's really been on my mind for the last few hours is the whole Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life thing. Because of the proposed Unborn Victims of Violence bill that's currently under the ham-handed fist of Dubyah, I've had to seriously think about how I feel about the whole thing. And I come away knowing even less of how I feel, rather than being able to clarify my own opinions.

Except during those early years of ignorance spent as a (shudders) Born Again Christian in my youth, I've pretty much always been a Pro-Choice person. What I am now - I am really have a hard time saying.

I just don't know.

Not that it really relates in any other than my ongoing tendency to generalize and stereotype people that I choose to dislike, namely, knee-jerk fundamentalists - but I find it interesting that the same people who are rabid Pro-Lifers also tend to be Pro Death Penalty. How this kind of contradiction is rationalized in some people's minds escapes me. Part of the whole Old Testament mentality, I guess; an eye for an eye and all that. But how is it more justifiable to scream and holler about the rights of the unborn and the sanctity of all life while at the same time being totally okay with the concept of legalized murder of an adult human being? I'm not saying let's all kiss and make up with the the guy who just raped a nun or murdered a bunch of co-eds in their dorm room or anything, but really - who gave you the Scepter of Justice and deemed it okey-doke to decide who lives and who dies?

I mean, I'm just sayin'...

But anyway, this new bill "recognizes the unborn child as a second victim when he or she is killed or injured during the commission of a violent federal crime." While it seems straightforward on the surface - it's technically just there to allow a person who has committed a crime against a pregnant woman to be charged for two counts rather than just one - it's very obviously a step towards the movement to grant full rights to a fetus - and of course, to repeal legalized abortion.

And this is the start of where I get tangled up in my thought processes.

On the one hand, I think about instances where a girl or woman is, I don't know a better way to put it, a victim of her own biology. A rape or incest victim who then finds out that she is pregnant. Or a teen who hasn't had the benefit of the kind of parenting that would give her the appropriate choice-making capability to avoid becoming pregnant. Or the classic case of a mother's life being endangered by giving birth.

When I was listening to a story about this issue on NPR, the person being interviewed on the Pro-Choice side was having a very hard time trying to talk about the people directly affected by the proposed bill. She talked about how she certainly empathized with the mothers who have lost their children because of cases like this - they were attacked and lost their babies, and felt the loss of a child that they would never know.

Where it really got sticky with me was when she was trying to show the difference between this kind of case, where a woman who obviously fully intended her pregnancy had lost the child because of a criminal act, and a case of a woman having the right to terminate a pregnancy - and to distinguish between the two types of situations, she made a reference to the difference between a 'wanted child' and an 'unwanted child'.

The only way my brain could interpret it was that, if it wasn't wanted, it was a pregnancy, if it was wanted, it was a child.

I really don't know how to wrap my brain around this one.

If you really want to stretch the analogy, who can blame the Nazis for killing Jews? As far as the Nazis were concerned, Jews weren't really people, so where was the harm in killing them?

Yes, I know it's a very big leap in logic - but then again, is it?

The whole Pro Choice thing is based on the idea that a woman should have the right to be able to choose what happens with her own body. On the surface, I can't argue with that at all. And science hasn't yet been able to prove that a fetus has anything that resembles thought processes - or if they have, I don't know about it. Not that that means anything, ignorant as I am...

But is it only passage through the birth canal that validates human life? You're not really 'human' until you've had your passport stamped?

Where do you draw the line?

sigh

In a better world, I'd like to see more time and thought put into making this whole choice business something that has to be wrangled with much less. I'd like to see young women grow up with a healthy sense of self, common sense, and the ability to defend themselves whenever necessary. I'd like to see young men raised with the same respect for women that they want extended to themselves. I'd like to see both raised with the fortitude to act responsibly - and the willingness to accept responsibility for their actions, whatever the consequences may be.

But what about the victims? And who exactly are they?

And what, really, is the difference between a 'wanted child' and a 'fetus'?

I can't make up my mind on this one. On the one hand, I don't want to live in a country where women are once again dying from backroom abortions and are made to feel that they have no rights to their own bodies and what happens to them.

On the other hand, there's again that question - who, really, has the right to decide who - or what - is really human?

The only thing I could think of, is that I can only be responsible for my own actions. I already have to take responsibility for the choices that I have made. And I am a person who has already faced the choices presented here. And I have to live with the results of these, and many other choices.

But as far as how I feel about things now, at this stage of my life? Do I want to be a person who decides who has the right to live or die?

If someone attacked me, right now, I would certainly fight to try to save my own life. But would I rather kill another person in order to save my own life?

Honestly, I'd like to say, no, I would rather not. Even if the other person was a baby-raping Hun who just wanted to stab me and rid me of my wallet - I don't think I want to be the person who decides that my life is more valuable than theirs. That, in the end, I will have proved that their destruction for my safety was the right choice.

Could I live up to that sacrifice? Couldn't it be that that person would eventually change their life and become a valuable contributor to the world in the end - even more valuable than me, sloth that I am?

And an 'unwanted pregnancy'. A cluster of cells, without conscious thought or volition. Nothing but tissue - but with the same kind of potential for good or evil as anyone already fully-formed and living right next to me at this very moment.

I guess that all I can say is, I don't want to make the choice for anyone other than myself, unless I absolutely have to. I don't want to take responsibility for any life other than my own - or tell anyone else that my choices are right for them, either.

This spawns - and yes, that was an unfortunate, but entirely unintentional, choice of verb - a whole different train of thought. One that I'm not even going to go into here.

I. Think. Entirely. Too. Much.
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I should make up my mind, one way or the other - do I believe in God or not?

The problem is this - if I find that I believe in God, how can I possibly ever find it in my heart to do anything other than loathe him?

They seem like particularly biased questions coming, not only from Left Field, but somewhere out past the bleachers entirely - but if you were raised in what can only be described, despite the obvious oxymoron, as a moderately extreme religious community (Seventh Day Adventist) - hey, they're pertinent questions.

Of course, to my way of thinking - that is to say, perverse at best - they are important questions to anyone, regardless of their upbringing.

Because anyone who spends even a few minutes of their time engaged in looking at the world as something other than a place to find the most convenient and shiny distraction in the least amount of time and for the lowest available cost - jesus people, look around you - if we aren't on the brink of the Apocolypse, whether a secular or a religious one, I'm fucking Mary Poppins.

I'm not going to go into a point-by-point analysis of all the 'signs' I see around me every day. There are better minds than mine who do a much better job of it all around me. But if this kind of thing is obvious even to someone like me, who practically lives under a fucking rock for all intensive purposes, how can it be less than obvious to any other sane human being?

As if that were a logical question. Ignorance is much easier. So much more comfortable, and easier to accept as 'safe'. Honestly, though I'm far from being a 'big brain' myself, there's hardly a day that goes by that I don't wish I were a great deal more stupid than I generally consider myself to be.

I long for ignorance sometimes. There are times when I would gladly trade anything anyone could possibly ask of me, if I could just stop thinking.

Which is a part of the whole theological issue I have with myself. Whether or not to believe in God.

It was only a work of fiction, and not even one of the better ones at that, but it had a fairly substantial emotional impact on me - the film "The Rapture". In it, the central characters lead lives of apparent debauchery and decadence until they are introduced to the word of God, at which point they do the standard lifestyle 180 and become born-agains - just before the End Times start into the final countdown.

The part that resonated the most to me - and I do recognize that I am very susceptible to emotional manipulation, particularly when presented in an even clumsily rendered artistic form - was when the main woman character is standing on one side of a rather silly depiction of the River Styxx, with her dead daughter standing on the other side, pleading with her to "say you love Jesus!" so that they can be joined again on The Other Side.

And the woman has to reflect on the concept of really and finally embracing a belief system that she used to justify murdering her own daughter in order to demonstrate her faith in God.

The daughter, seeing her mother's indecision, reminds her that, if she doesn't make this statement, if she 'turns her back on God,' she'll spend the rest of eternity in nothingness. The film doesn't, if I remember correctly, go so far as to say Hell and eternal torment - but enough already.

The woman makes her choice. And says that she would rather not exist than to claim to love a God that could ask such things of the beings he claims to 'love'.

Yes, this was just a poorly cobbled together piece of Hollywood hoodoo. But anyone who's had any kind of bibical training knows, it's not at all out of step with Standard Operating Procedure for God as portrayed in the Bible.

The God of the Old Testament asked Abraham to take his son up a mountain and offer him as a living sacrifice to show his loyalty. Abraham didn't even tell the poor kid he was taking him on a hike to carve his heart out for Jehovah - he just schlepped him up the side of the mountain, and it was only at the last fucking minute that God said, hey - psych! - here, have a magical sheep, never mind all that, I proved my point - you were willing to murder your own son to earn your celestial merit badge, I'm not going to make you, ha-ha, actually go through with it or anything.

I could go on and on with examples - but you get the picture.

How could anyone in their right mind BUY INTO this kind of insanity?

How could I have done it for as long as I did?

How could I possibly even entertain the idea even now?

For the same reasons it ever seemed like a plausible idea in the first place. Other than the fact that, at the time, I was a kid and didn't have a lot of say in the matter.

For a while, if you're scared enough, just about anything can seem like a good idea.

One of the things that the Seventh Day Adventist church did, and probably still does, is place a great deal of emphasis on 'The Last Days'. They like to go over and over the details about the Signs of the Apocolypse, and how 'the Faithful' will be persecuted in the time just preceeding the return of King, blah blah blah. How we would be, first reviled, then systemtically targeted and finally driven from our homes to live in the mountains - those of us that survived torture and murder, of course.

All in the Service of the Lord. Can I hear a quiet and reverential Amen.

You get enough of this stuff crammed into your head at an early enough age, and looking around at the world today is enough to give you the crawling heebie jeebies.

Because, when seen through the spectacles of early indoctrination, we're getting really fucking close to The Last Days.

Nikki would say, people have been saying that since the world began - that there's always been someone claiming that the world's about to end in the next fifteen minutes. And she'd be absolutely right. There's never been any shortage of sheet-wearing religious wackos claiming that JAYSUS is already on the elevator down, and he's going to kick some Righteous ass when he hits the lobby.

And even when I leave out the religious angle, and point out that the world, with or without a God, is being dropped head first into an enormous toilet, and that because the majority of humans evince absolutely no desire to accept this simple fact and strive to make the necessary, the logical, the humane gestures to try to change this direction -

She says, things always change, and people always adapt. One way or another.

I know she's right.

In a way.

To a degree.

And I still wonder.

If there is a God, and I face the possibility, as a result of my life choices, and the choices I didn't make, of an eternity of either complete nothingness or everlasting torture -

How could I still, even facing that, choose to say, hey, God, it's cool - I don't really get it, but you must have some Master Plan that I'm just too clueless to fully understand right now.

Simple answer.

No. Fucking. Way.

And even though the idea of hell and spending the rest of time being slow-roasted over an open pit doesn't exactly fill my heart with joy, hallelujah -

I still can't do it. I can't sign a contract with someone or something that seems to have the worst sent of Situational Ethics I've ever encountered.

The other question I can't get out of my head is this, though -

What if I'm wrong?

What if there is a God. What if he's just been given really bad press, and the entire Bible is just the end result of centuries of people playing campfire story 'telephone' games.

You know, the one you played at camp, where the story starts at one end of the circle, get's whispered into one ear after the other, until the end result at is so far removed from the beginning that everyone gets a good guffaw and goes on to roast a few marshmellows before plotting which poor bastard gets their hand dunked in warm water while they're sleeping to get them to wet their sleeping bag.

What if God is just - misunderstood?

And what if I face an eternity of misery because I didn't listen to the 'still small voice' that's been tap, tap, tapping at the door to my heart?

Hey, if God's so all-fucking-powerful -

Why didn't he hire a better Image Consultant?

Sorry, God. If I have to choose between you or eternity with a fog machine and a poorly rendered river - even between you and a thousand barb-tailed, pitchfork-wielding pixies -

You're on your own, Big Guy. If you can call the big hoe-down yuo're going to have with entire membership of the 700 Hundred Club 'alone'.

Anyway, you can count me out.

I guess I need to just accept my non-acceptance, and figure out what my real questions are.

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