Bible

#DimensionSteve (Theme Song Edition)

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

President Donald Trump delivers remarks at a press conference in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, D.C., 16 February 2017. (Photo: Associated Press)

Notes and quotes from Steve Benen, at MaddowBlog, 20 February 2017:

#ProbablyNot: “If it makes Sweden feel any better, many Americans often have no idea what Trump is saying, either.”

#WatersEdge: “As a factual matter, the senator is a Maverick in Name Only.”

#WhatTheyVotedFor: “There’s no reason to go along with this as if it were somehow normal.”

#GettingWorseNotBetter: “Republicans may be eager to blast Democratic ‘obstruction’ and partisan delays, but the truth of the matter is simple: Democrats can’t block nominees who don’t exist.”

#McCarthysMouth: “That’s the kind of quote that could use some clarification.”

#Backfill: “The era of ‘fuzzy math’ is back with a vengeance.”

#WhyGovernmentDoesntWork: “So, the nation’s Education Secretary, even now, isn’t sure the position she now holds should exist―apparently because she’s still not on board with the idea of having a federal Department of Education, which she now leads.”

#MatthewFifteenElevenα: “The president is himself on board with the ‘Never-Mind-What-Trump-Said’ approach to foreign policy.”

#PutiPoodle: “Why Cohen would tell two very different stories to two different newspapers is unclear.”

#YesWeHave: “Have we really reached the point at which Trump World is so accustomed to pushing bogus and misleading information that even the president’s golfing is fair game?”

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A Question of Faith, and Other Notes

Detail of 'Corpus Hypercubus', by Salvador Dali, 1954.

“What we have in the Gospel of John is a biblical portal between Christianity and Islam. If we choose to walk through it in faith we will discover that our religions issue from the same divine source; we will discover that we are siblings in faith, meant to bear witness to the truth side by side (John 15:26-27) and collaborate in manifesting God’s will on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

Rev. Dr. Ian Mevorach

Quite honestly, the first thing to mind reading through the Rev. Dr. Ian Mevorach’s reflection on the Gospel of John as a predictor of Islam is to recall that nobody has quite figured out how to deal with the question of pages or single-page, the difference between flipping back and forth and scrolling up and down.

And it’s true; in the end, books still have contexts that the internet simply can’t match.

As to useful commentary, though, we might simply start with the milquetoast proposition that it is a strong, albeit obscure effort; it is easy enough to say, “Abraham, Jesus, Muhammad, Joseph Smith”, but actually drawing the connections that run deeper than the superficial, obvious point of “Abramism” is harder, and seemingly offers a low return on investment unless the larger community of the corpus Christi decides to pay genuine, faithful attention. That is to say, this is not the kind of discussion suited to sound bites.

And, of course, we ought not pretend that any given Muslim will agree, or even appreciate the effort.

Still, though, Mevorach’s missive is intended for Christians, and in that context it is worth suggesting that the basic term synoptic gospels, in my own experience, actually confuses many Christians who never learned what the phrase means; one wonders just how obscure the question of Christianizing the Hebrew experience post hoc actually is. It doesn’t come up much in broader discourse, but is also at the heart of a dispute among Christians regarding the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, which was in turn replaced by the New Revised Standard Version, and there are plenty who claim the further revision only made the problem worse; the original complaint was that the RSV showed too much respect to the Hebrew experience. (No, really, part of this was about whether Christians should rewrite the definitions of Hebrew words in order to smooth rough spots on the long-accepted article of faith that Jesus fulfilled old prophecies.)

The sum of that critique, quite simply, is that Mevorach’s entry for the Huffington Post probably won’t find much audience among those Christians who most need reminding. To that end, we can only wish the Reverend good luck and Godspeed.

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Mevorach, Ian. “Did Jesus Predict Muhammad? A Biblical Portal Between Christianity and Islam”. The Huffington Post. 25 April 2016.

The Ted Cruz Show (Michelangelo Fist)

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), speaks at a rally Sunday, 21 February 2016, in Pahrump, Nevada. (AP Photo/John Locher)

It is, as we have recently observed, easy enough to pick on David Brooks but then along comes Charles Hurt to remind why meandering desperation in lieu of useful analysis is still a better option than attending a hardline conservative posturing as some manner of serious mind. While the New York Times endures Brooks, Mr. Hurt’s résumé is a proper slime trail leading from the New York Post on through Breitbart, Newsmax, FOX News, and the Washington Times; just to make the point he picked up a gig with Drudge. For The Hill, however, Hurt attempts to explain “The problem with Ted Cruz”. It’s a doozy:

While the media attention has focused entirely on the exuberant and entertaining traveling carnival nature of the Trump campaign, this overlooks another, deeper problem conservatives have today: Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas).

Washington Times columnist Charles Hurt appears on FOX News in December, 2015.In the past eight years, no one has captivated the realistic hopes of conservative constitutionalists the way that Cruz has in this election. On every single issue of importance to conservatives, Cruz is right. He is a walking, living, breathing Supreme Court dissent, masterfully articulated and extensively annotated on paper.

Then, he opens his mouth. And people scream. They run for the exits as if their hair is on fire. They want to take a shower.

We might fixate on the phrase, “captivated realistic hopes”, all day, and never figure out what the hell the author intends. The nearest thing to a realistic hope we might project for these “constitutional conservatives” is to somehow elect Ted Cruz, watch him get crushed by Congress and Court alike, and spend the next twenty years like they have the last, complaining about evil gov’ment and the usurpation of democracy just like they’ve been mewling at least since Romer v. Evans.

Still, though, Charles Hurt is a conservative; it is unfair to expect that he should make sense according to reality.

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An Unfortunate Update (Dubious Hero)

Rowan County Clerk and infamous Christian supremacism icon Kim Davis receives the "Cost of Discipleship Award" at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., 25 Septemer 2015.  (Photo: Jonathan Swan/The Hill)

“And Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He replied, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many’.”

Mark 5.9 (RSV)

Kim Davis is the sort of memory we might wish to let fade. The embittered Rowan County Clerk went so far this week as to honor the Kentucky Democratic Party by switching her registration to Republican; meanwhile, conservatives celebrated her cause:

Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who became a hero to conservatives after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was compared to Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks as she was awarded a prize by a prominent Christian organization Friday evening.

Dabbing her eyes with a tissue and with a trembling voice, Davis told hundreds of evangelical Christians: “I feel so very undeserving.”

“I want to start by thanking my lord and my savior Jesus Christ, because without him it would never be possible, for he is my strength that carries me,” Davis said.

“I am only one,” she shouted to be heard above the cheering crowd. “But we are many.”

(Swan)

And while there are ironies aplenty, and some even sickening, about all that, the carryout point here is simple enough. I can still remember, in youth, a classmate earnestly trying to explain to me how we all had it wrong and the KKK was a misunderstood guardian of society and something about why Dr. King was a terrible person, and what strikes me about that recollection is that one could push such garbage unimpeded. In a day when feminsim is so (ahem!) “unflattering” as to require schoolhouse censorship, and Christians expel girls from school for not being girlish enough, we might understand why conservatives would wish to elevate a supremacist as some sort of civil rights hero, but it is also hard to imagine they might actually get away with it.

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Image note: Rowan County Clerk and infamous Christian supremacism icon Kim Davis receives the “Cost of Discipleship Award” at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., 25 Septemer 2015. (Photo: Jonathan Swan/The Hill)

Richardson, Bradford. “Kim Davis switches to GOP”. The Hill. 25 September 2015.

Swan, Jonathan. “Christian group honors Kim Davis with award”. The Hil. 25 September 2015.

Warren, Rosalyn. “A School Blurred Out This Girl’s Feminist T-Shirt Because It Was ‘Unflattering'”. BuzzFeed. 17 April 2015.

The Donald Trump Show (Artful Dodger)

Donald Trump.

“Watching the video, it’s hard not to get the impression that Trump almost certainly hasn’t read the Bible; he probably doesn’t have a favorite verse; and the GOP White House hopeful has no idea what the differences are between the Old and New Testaments.”

Steve Benen

Uh … ya think?

The thing is that Donald Trump is clearly pulling a really simple sales bit; indeed, as annoying as we might find the man, we might also sympathize with the part of him that wrestles with the question of whether or not he believes they’re really gobbling it up like this.

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Faith, Juxtaposed

The front entrance of the Metropolitan Community Church of Our Redeemer in Augusta, Ga. that was vandalized overnight is seen Tuesday morning July 21, 2015. The Church's pastor, Rick Sosbe, and his fiancee, Michael Rhen, recently became the first same-sex couple to get a marriage license in Augusta-Richmond County following the recent decision by the US Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage. (Michael Holahan/Augusta Chronicle)

“To me, it seems so interesting that they’re saying on there that you’ll burn―in other words saying ‘You’ll burn in hell,’ I’m sure―and quoting scripture. Is that what Christianity―right-wing, fundamentalist Christianity―has come to?”

Pastor Rick Sosbe

‘Tis a fair question. And even the pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Our Redeemer must pause to check his tongue; quite clearly this is not what Christianity itself has come to. Still, though, Pastor Rick asks a fair question.

And here is another question: Many on the American political right wing rushed in the wake of the Mother Emanuel massacre to dismiss white supremacism and characterize the killings as an attack against Christianity. Would they be so kind as to condemn this attack against Christianity? Sure, nobody’s dead, and that’s all to the good. But in this case it’s a real, actual, genuine attack against Christianity, so … you know … Hello?

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Sieczkowski, Cavan. “Church With Openly Gay Pastor Vandalized With ‘You’ll Burn'”. The Huffington Post. 24 July 2015.

Benen, Steve. “The Charleston massacre wasn’t about ‘religious liberty'”. msnbc. 19 June 2015.

Clarkson, Frederick. “Charelston Massacre an Attack on Christianity? Yes, But Not How the Christian Right Says”. Political Research Associates. 24 June 2015.

Francis the Red?

Pope Francis is presented with a gift of crucifix carved into a wooden hammer and sickle, the Communist symbol uniting labor and peasants, by Bolivian President Evo Morales in La Paz, Bolivia, Wednesday, July 8, 2015.  Apart from the carved hammer and sickle, Morales gave Francis another politically loaded gift, a copy of "The Book of the Sea," which is about the loss of Bolivia's access to the sea during the War of the Pacific with Chile in 1979-83.  Morales said things ahve changed with this pope and the Bolivian people are greeting Francis as somone who is "helping in the liberation of our people." (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

Sometimes, the unsaid really is that important.

This is something worth considering:

Pope Francis avoided altitude sickness in La Paz, Bolivia, but he may have woken Thursday with a ringing headache anyway.

The day before Bolivian president Evo Morales gave Francis a large garish cross carved into the shape of a hammer and sickle – the symbol of Communist unity between workers and farmers.

That’s a bit bang-on-the-nose for his holiness, who has been branded a Marxist by Rush Limbaugh, and dogged by claims that he is a radical with dreams of toppling the global economy.

To be fair, a communist is typically defined as a member of the party, which denies the existence of God. That’s not Francis. But the pope is indeed a bit of a radical with dreams of a fairer global economy. In a much-anticipated papal letter released by the Vatican last month, he warned “every living person on this planet” about the reckless pursuit of infinite growth and boundless, buyable pleasures.

(Dokoupil)

Every once in a while, conspiracy theories arise among conservative Christians having to do with Catholics, communists, and other groups, such as Wiccans, as one iteration had it, trying to redefine morality and destroy Christianity in the New World Order.

The question of whether or not Pope Francis is a “card-carrying member” of the Communist Party is pretty much a distraction. In truth, a Christian’s command to seek from each according to ability and give to each according to need predates Karl Marx (1875), Louis Blanc (1851) or Étienne-Gabriel Morelly (1755).

He diagnosed it as “the deification of the market,” and argued that if we hope to flourish, we need “a bold cultural revolution” in the way we live and work. But by Thursday morning, Francis was busy pushing back on the c-word.

“When I talk about this, some people think the pope is a communist,” he told a gathering of peasants and workers, according to the Associated Press. “They don’t realize that love for the poor is at the center of the Gospel.”

One wonders about politics, and whether the straightforward Biblical truth would simply make too many Christians’ souls explode in confusion.

Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet; and distribution was made to each as any had need.

(Acts 4.32-35 (RSV))

Critics who worry that Pope Francis is communist are missing the point.

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Image note: Pope Francis is presented with a gift of crucifix carved into a wooden hammer and sickle, the Communist symbol uniting labor and peasants, by Bolivian President Evo Morales in La Paz, Bolivia, Wednesday, July 8, 2015. Apart from the carved hammer and sickle, Morales gave Francis another politically loaded gift, a copy of “The Book of the Sea,” which is about the loss of Bolivia’s access to the sea during the War of the Pacific with Chile in 1979-83. Morales said things ahve changed with this pope and the Bolivian people are greeting Francis as somone who is “helping in the liberation of our people.” (L’Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

Dokoupil, Tony. “Is the pope a communist?”. msnbc. 9 July 2015.

Weigle, Luther, et al. The Bible: Revised Standard Version. New York: Thomas Nelson, 1971.

The Supremacist’s Lament

Zombie Republic: The Demon Sisters cope with the results of their plan.  (Detail of frame from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, episode 8, '… Of the Dead')

“Public officials are ministers of God assigned the duty of punishing the wicked and protecting the righteous.”

Win Johnson

The disgraceful derby scrambling in the wake of Obergefell has yet to settle out; with presidential candidates struggling to find ways to evade the U.S. Constitution, or taking up the notion of just calling the whole marriage thing off, an Alabama attorney named Win Johnson has appealed to Gov. Robert Bentley (R) to opt out of the U.S. Constitution. Mr. Johnson, for his part, is a state official, a director at the Administrative Office of Courts, which in turn oversees the courts for state Chief Justice Roy Moore.

It seems a striking letter; Charles J. Dean reported, for AL.com:

In harsh words and a lecturing tone, a lawyer who works for Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has written a letter seemingly directed at Gov. Robert Bentley rebuking him for saying Alabama will obey the U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring same-sex marriage legal.

More appropriately, it really is a striking letter, so wild-eyed and seemingly irresponsible that the Souther Poverty Law Center has called for Johnson’s resignation.

And let us be clear; part of the problem with excerpting the letter is that the whole thing really is a show and a half. Christian supremacism, abdication of duty, rejection of the Constitution, and hey, even a Godwin violation just to hit for the cycle. Again, let us be clear: All for hatred in Jesus’ name, amen.

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A Fair Point

→"I didn't 'evolve' from no monkey! I descend from two people cursed for disobeying God, and the incestuous unions of their children!" | (I never understood the 'argument from dignity'.)← ('Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal' by Zach Weiner, 21 May 2015.)Two notes:

(1) He’s got a point.

(2) Argument from Dignity? Is that what it’s called? Really?

Something about Scott Walker goes here, but something else tells me that’s not quite right.

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Weiner, Zach. “Descent”. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. 21 May 2015.

Piety for the Sake of Being Seen by Others

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 9 March 2015.

“Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”

Jesus Christ

Everybody thinks I'm crazy.  They say, "You take the Jesus thing too seriously".  Well I don't know, but Christ took me pretty seriously when he died for me on the cross.  (Cross Cards, via Facebook)Facebook is the new bumper-sticker faith. It is an easy way to show your religious piety to everyone, you know? Just slap a slogan on the ass-end of your automobile, or litter everyone’s Facebook feed with sappy, sentimental hackery.

Everybody thinks I’m crazy. They say, “You take the Jesus thing too seriously”.

Well I don’t know, but Christ took me pretty seriously when he died for me on the cross.

Or He took Himself so seriously.

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