Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Bigotry of Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas, a nationally syndicated columnist, wrote an article that appeared this week in the Daily Oklahoman, the state newspaper of Oklahoma. My mother told me about the article but was unable to send it because the newspaper was inadvertently discarded with the evening trash (that happens a lot with the Daily Oklahoman). Mom encouraged me to google for it, and I found it this afternoon. You can read it by going here.

Thomas' titled his article Barack and the Bigot. He was referencing the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright's speech blasted on Fox News and other places of mindless political commentary. Thomas believes that members of Trinity UCC and other's desiring to listen to the voice of a prophet should not listen to Wright, but rather Bill Cosby. Here is what Thomas said,

The voice that black people should be listening to is not Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but Bill Cosby. At Jesse Jackson's 33rd Annual Rainbow/PUSH Coalition conference in Chicago in 2004, and at many other venues, Cosby called on his fellow blacks to stop blaming the "white man" for their problems. Cosby suggested most of the problems in black America are caused by "what we are doing to ourselves."

This is the attitude that appeals to others, especially whites, and makes them want to help poor blacks escape poverty. Blaming whites for black problems may empower the speakers, but it repels people who genuinely want to assist the disadvantaged to become advantaged.

I ask you, who is this white man telling black men who they 'should be listening to?' What privilege does he think he has to tell members of Trinity Church and others whom he deems more worthy to proclaim the gospel? This is very condescending and reveals his elitist leanings. But Thomas' statement is very revealing: Thomas likes Cosby because it lets him off the hook when it comes to an accountability of racism; let's put the onus of responsibility on poor black persons helping themselves rather than on how he and others in the white majority share in the responsibility for black person's (and other people of color's) problems. This way, the white man doesn't have to do anything different.

Thomas is right about one thing though, white people do love it when black people blame themselves instead of others--then they don't have to face the conviction that they cause and maintain a continued atmosphere of racism and prejudice.

Another point of contention I have with Thomas' article is that, from what seems as a slap from left field, he judges Union Theological Seminary. Read what he writes:

Obama says Rev. Wright is a "Bible Scholar" and has spoken at seminaries around the country. He specifically mentioned Union Theological Seminary, which is theologically and politically liberal. Liberal seminaries teach a "social gospel" that is more social than gospel and more the earthly agenda of the Democratic Party than the Kingdom of G-d.

Calling Union Seminary a place that is more concerned about social justice than it is about the gospel and a place more concerned about the Democratic Party than it is about the Kingdom of God, is wickedly blind beyond words and it shows that Thomas has no idea what Union Seminary is all about. At Union, we had a saying that explained its unique approach to training ministers. "Union trains prophets instead of pastors."

I ask you to look to the prophets and ask them if they're being more concerned about politics and social gospel than about God. To them (and us Unioners), God's Gospel IS a social message of equality and aid to the poor and disenfranchised. It is a message of deconstructing systems of power that aid the elite. For only by exposing the ways in which we disempower and corrupt the system will true freedom be possible. In its essence, one tenet of the social gospel is a message that proclaims from the mountaintops that the sins that affect us all are wraught by those who use their positions of privilege to keep, maintain, and support injustice.

But Thomas doesn't believe that--or that Wright or Union Seminary is concerned about it. To him, it's all about politics as he dismisses and condemns the messages Wright and the prophets from Union Seminary who are trying to speak to the power of racism.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

This is kinda scary...

At first, it looked like two men carrying something up a hill...and then, I realized it wasn't. This is for real. I wonder what it'd look like with machine guns, tear gas, and other crowd-breaking spectacles. The future is getting closer and closer....

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama's Speech

This man is inspiring; as well as explaining the challenging issues of racism that has been affecting his campaign as well as his relationship with Dr. Jeremiah Wright. This speech is extraordinary--one that'll be remembered and studied in universities for ages to come. Yes, it's that good.

Go here to read the transcript.

h/t Towelroad

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cool Sponge Tips

When it comes to cleaning, here are two great tips to ensure that you really do clean and, not make things worse while thinking you're making them better.

1. To disinfect a dirty sponge, microwave it for 2 minutes. Be sure to wet the sponge to avoid a fire in the microwave.

2. Since so many of us buy things in bulk (sponges are so much cheaper that way), often we use the same color sponge for all our cleaning tasks. One nifty idea to keep the sponges noticeably separate is to clip the end of the sponge (or some other fancy cutting design) that you scrub the dog's urine stains out of the carpet with to differentiate it from the sponge you clean your dishes with. Great idea, right? This totally explains that funny taste I've had after washing my dishes. (Yuck!)

h/t to LifeHacker

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Get Human

Don't you just hate listening to those automated voices when you call a company directing you, in order to better serve you, to the appropriate customer service representative? If you've ever called Verizon about your DSL and went through 5 such transfers only to get disconnected or sent to the wrong person only to have to hang up and start all over again, then do I have a website for you!

Get Human lists a plethora of company's phone numbers and how to get a real live human being on the phone and by-passing all the automated conversations. Go to the link, bookmark it, and then thank me for passing this along to you. ;)

And, I'll h/t Dumb Little Man for sharing this with me.

Jay Brennan Sings

I love this guy's music. And, he's such an in-your-face fairy radical (and I mean that in a good way). Check out this video and when you're done, follow the links below (if you like his singing) to my other favorite songs he wrote and sang. He tends to add commentary at the beginning of his videos but just bare through it--his singing is worth the wait (this will be more apparent on his Soda Shop video where his singing starts at 2.30)

Jay Brennan's hilarious American Idol and Soda Shop.

h/t to Wayne Besen who also seems to like Jay Brennan too.

1 in 4 Female Teens has an STD

Wow!! I am of the mind to say both, "Is this for real?!" and "Holy Shit!" What makes this even more shocking is that it's the result of a federal study, not some quasi-study of some non-profit or paid-for marketing campaign by either a religious study group, a pharmaceutical company, or a liberal political agenda group (not that I am opposed to the latter, I am just always suspect when I read of a study-claim that just so happens to support its agenda too). But I digress, let me get back to my shock. Holy Shit!

If you've read my posts in the past, you know how much I dislike the abstinence-only education. We should be providing choices in our education, not just the ones that are directed at religious folks. We need to include as many other groups in order to effectively lower the teenage birthrate (which by the way, has increased significantly with this administration) and STD infection (to include HIV). How much more evidence do we need that programs based on ideology-only do not affect the target groups we're supposedly trying to help? In other words, we're willing to allow horrible things to happen to our nation's kids at the expense of maintaining our convictions. When we put ideology, religion, or conviction above the value of human life, then to me, this is hypocrisy at its worst.

Go here to read the FULL STORY.

h/p to QueerTwoCents.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

They're Back!

Remember the Filipino prison folks dancing to Michael Jackson's Thriller or to Queen's Radio Gaga? Now they're back dancing to MC Hammer's Can't Touch This. Watching these inmates makes me think we American's could probably do a much better job with our prisoners. At least they'd have more fun...but you know there is bound to be someone who would counter such a thing with, "Who said prison was supposed to be fun, anyway?" I say, let prisoners dance to fun old songs!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Stop the Violence Already

Fight OUT Loud has put a video that makes it clear why the LGBT community is a group still under siege, the victims of hate crimes. Look at just a sample of crimes that made the news so far this year:

h/t Pam's Houseblend

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What a Way to Get Stoned!

Doubters and yet, not really doubters

I found this interesting story posted on Wayne Besen's blog about an Israeli "researcher"Benny Shanon who thinks Moses was high on drugs when he met God. Or rather, Moses while present before and during the Wilderness Wanderings thought he met God but didn't because he was tripping on drugs. What I find comical about this explanation is this: the researcher doesn't doubt that Moses did the things written about him--he just doubts that he met God in the burning bush or on Mt. Sinai. He sounds more like one of the Israelites in the wandering bunch who hears Moses' claim and doesn't believe it.

You'd think if someone was going to doubt the Moses and Wilderness experience, they'd doubt the whole dang thing! Rather, Shanon wants to keep hold of his Jewish religion to the point where he'll accept its historicity but deny the supernatural in it. It's like having your cake and eating it too.

This is one troubling thing about a deconstructive approach to biblical religion (and one that I contend with in my own doubts): knowing what to keep, what to discard, and what to interpret. The challenge comes in when our "psuedo-intellect" makes us doubt part of a story but our faith is too afraid to 'go all the way'. Charles Spurgeon addresses this conundrum in his analogy of the slippery slope. Once you start down a path of doubt, you may inevitably careen out of control and stopping on a downward slope when you're faith has disengaged the breaks will be impossible to control. Okay, so he didn't say it exactly like that. But Spurgeon is right about one thing--when you start doubting or de-constructing, where do you stop? Unfortunately, I don't have the answer to this. I have found myself disengaging my breaks in a similar way that Shanon appears to be doing.

What I do know is that life is messy--theology is messy--and how we interpret it all is messy too. We want neat and nice corners and explanations where everything makes sense and seldom contradicts itself. In reality, one must often employ even more faith to remain consistent to one's continued ramifications of one's ideology than to the ideology, theology, or concept itself.

Personally, I have begun to engage my faith and theology in a way that I wouldn't have done 10 years ago: I have limits to what I'll deconstruct. Does this sound faithless? Perhaps, but it saves a world of hurt when I choose to disregard a loss of faith because I've careened my faith out of control on a slippery slope from deep faith to deep doubt. Let me give you an example: Here of late, I have set upon myself 'a faith truism' that the Trinity is not to be messed with (too much). While I may doubt how men and women of faith have interpreted this development, I hold to it in my prayer time, my sermons, and my conversation. While I may give permission to deconstruct at will--I'll be the first to defend it too. I do this because there are some things that need to remain constant in my faith and in my psuedo-systematic theology. There are other things I keep near and essential to my faith.. not many things mind you, but a few.

But then, in my self-righteousness I find myself thinking I am more honest that the guy who thinks Moses was stoned while talking to a burning bush. But am I? Perhaps me and Shanon ought to sit down and share what we have in common, before I go trashing what we don't.