Jesus Christ

Suggestive of a Problem (Righteous Rebel Remix)

Glenn Beck, circa 2016, via Twitter.

Sometimes I think it really is just about action-hero fantasies imagining some good reason to kill people.

Glenn Beck’s radio program has been suspended from its SiriusXM simulcast after Beck described the election of Donald Trump as a “possible extinction-level event for capitalism” during an interview with a guest who suggested that a “patriot” will then need to “step up” and “remove him from office.”

During Wednesday’s “Glenn Beck Radio Program,” guest and conservative fiction author Brad Thor said he “guarantees” that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee would temporarily suspend the Constitution if elected president, calling the controversial candidate a “danger to America.”

“This could bring down incredible heat on me because I’m about to suggest something very bad―it is a hypothetical I’m going to ask as a thriller writer,” Thor said. “With the feckless, spineless Congress we have, who will stand in the way of Donald Trump overstepping his constitutional authority as President? If Congress won’t remove him from office, what patriot will step up and do that? If―if―he overstates his constitutionally-granted authority I should say as president, if he oversteps that, how do we get him out of office? I don’t think there is a legal means available. I think it will be a terrible, terrible position the American people will be in to get Trump out of office, because you won’t be able to do it through Congress.”

Instead of following up on Thor’s remark about Trump’s “removal” from office, Beck simply said he agreed before going on to say that he believed the economy would “reset” and decline “even if Jesus were in office.”

(Tesfaye)

(more…)

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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 Ben Carson Show (America)

Ben Carson and the United States of America: Composite sources ― Ben Carson Campaign/Twitter via Washington Post; Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

While not everything wrong with Ben Carson’s presidential campaign can be pinned directly on the good doctor, his own inability to communicate with others while respecting reasonable bounds of reality has left many questioning whether or not the man who believes so many absurd notions about history, science, and humanity is smart enough to be president of anything. And in that context, no, the latest failure of his campaign staff just doesn’t help.

Happy Geography Awareness Week! Recognizing that “too many young Americans are unable to make effective decisions, understand geo-spatial issues, or even recognize their impacts as global citizens,” National Geographic created this annual observance to “raise awareness to this dangerous deficiency in American education.”

Ben Carson’s presidential campaign inadvertently underscored this point Tuesday night, when it took to social media to share a map of the United States in which five New England states were placed in the wrong location. The campaign deleted the Twitter and Facebook posts Wednesday morning after media outlets and social media users pointed out the error.

(Ingraham)

Dr. Carson doesn’t help his assertion of Christian virtue with bigotry and cruelty toward war refugees; he certainly doesn’t help his assertion of presidential competence by losing track of New England.

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Image note: Composite sources ― Ben Carson Campaign/Twitter via Washington Post; Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Ingraham, Christopher. “Ben Carson’s campaign made a U.S. map and put a bunch of states in the wrong place”. The Washington Post. 18 November 2015.

Essential Reading: Daa’ish Winter

Emad Mostaque offers reflection on Daa’ish and Islam, for Reuters:

The Eiffel Tower is lit with the colors of the French flag in Paris on Nov. 16, 2015, to pay tribute to the victims of a series of deadly attacks on Friday in the French capital. (Benoit Tessier/Reuters)Yet, just as it is clear that Daesh is not Shi’ite because it rejects key elements of Shi’ite Islam — and actually hates Shi’ites with a passion — its views are not within Sunni orthodoxy. This is not to say that Daesh is not Muslim according to Sunni orthodoxy. For most Muslims, their religion is a matter of belief and not actions. Even murderers or pedophiles, for example, are still regarded as Muslims — though they commit terrible crimes and are awful human beings.

Yet Daesh goes one step beyond: It declares those who disagree with its views as non-Muslim. It labels them heretics based on their actions, not their beliefs. Muslims who do not follow the views Daesh professes are its main targets — and most frequently its key victims.

Daesh particularly targets refugees. They are most despised because they are fleeing from its professed utopia. So, Daesh welcomes calls in Europe to close borders because it feeds into its agenda. It also sees overflowing refugee camps as ideal sources of future recruits because it seeks to serve as their primary source of employment, much as Hamas does in Gaza.

This is essential reading.

No, really. Consider a question: How can Daa’ish expect to have Jesus Christ on their side?

Like I said, essential reading.

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Image note: The Eiffel Tower is lit with the colors of the French flag in Paris on Nov. 16, 2015, to pay tribute to the victims of a series of deadly attacks on Friday in the French capital. (Benoit Tessier/Reuters)

Mostaque, Emad. “Islamic State and the ‘management of savagery'”. Reuters. 17 November 2015.

Pretty Much What We Expect, Except It Is Unkind to Hold Such Expectations

Can we just admit that there is nothing “Christian” about Kim Davis?

At last week’s Values Voter Summit, Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel displayed a picture that he claimed showed a 100,000-person prayer in Peru for his client, Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis. That picture has since been identified as having been uploaded to Facebook on May 25, 2014 and portraying a massive one-of-a-kind five-day convention known as “Jesús Te Ama Y Te Cambia” (“Jesus Loves You And Changes You”).

After spending Monday defending the photo, Liberty Counsel has admitted that it is not of a Kim Davis rally. In fact, they no longer claim that any rally whatsoever took place for Davis in Peru, but merely that some people in Peru prayed for her.

(Ford)

There are, of course, all manner of complicating details; Mr. Staver and Liberty Counsel would like to blame the lie on Julio Rosas, a Peruvian Congressman.

Though Staver called the photograph “an honest mistake,” he insisted that people still give Davis a thumbs-up everywhere she goes. “Make no mistake, however, that there is widespread support for Kim Davis. Last week she was recognized by many people as she walked through the Philadelphia, New York LaGuardia, and Washington, D.C. Reagan airports. People gave her a thumbs up sign or verbally expressed support for Kim Davis. While she has obvious detractors, Kim Davis also has wide support.”

Detail of 'Lucifer' by Franz von Stuck, ca. 1890.Yes, such wide support that Liberty Counsel needs to make stuff up while their client receives a newly-invented award intended to celebrate bigotry and supremacism in America.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is Jesus Christ.

Oh, wait, right. No, it’s not. Because no matter how much Kim Davis wants you to believe she is a Christian, remember that Christ himself is absent from her hatred.

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Image notes: Top ― Christian supremacist icon and Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis receives the “Cost of Discipleship Award” at the Family Research Council Action’s Values Voter Summit, 25 September 2015, in Washington, D. C. Right ― Detail of Lucifer by Franz von Stuck, ca. 1890.

Ford, Zack. “Kim Davis’ Attorneys Finally Admit This Picture Is A Hoax”. ThinkProgress. 29 September 2015.

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 Not-So-Gay Divorceé

VIII. Adjustment.

The question of a divorceé has long plagued Christian supremacists who denounce marriage equality and gay rights, but, you know, really? Not only has Kim Davis already licensed transgender man and his pansexual wife, and most likely also issued plenty of marriage licenses to divorceés, but it also turns out that Ms. Davis is herself a serial adulterer.

On this point, Travis Gettys of Raw Story considers an appearance by Dan Savage on msnbc; the author, advice columnist, and editor of The Stranger, Mr. Savage spared no punches:

“I think Kim Davis is waiting to cash in,” Savage told MSNBC. “I predicted from the beginning that she would defy all the court orders, defy the Supreme Court, she would ultimately be held in contempt of court, lose her job, perhaps go to prison for a short amount of time. And then she will have written for her, ghost written books. She will go on the right-wing lecture circuit and she’ll never have to do an honest day’s work ever again in her life.”

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, in a mugshot, 3 September 2015, after being held in contempt of court by U.S. District Judge David Bunning, after she refused to comply with the law and issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.“This is about someone hypocritically cashing in, and she is a hypocrite,” he added.

Savage referred to the defiant clerk’s statement complaining that courts were asking her to “violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage” — which the columnist dismissed as ridiculous.

“This is a woman who’s been divorced three times and married four times,” he said, reading from the US News & World Report article that pointed out Davis “gave birth to twins five months after divorcing her first husband, (and) they were fathered by her third husband but adopted by her second husband.”

“She’s now onto her fourth husband,” Savage said. “Jesus Christ himself in scripture condemned divorce, called it adultery and forbids it. Jesus Christ himself in scripture says not one word about same-sex marriage.”

Savage said the U.S. Supreme Court had already decided the issue of same-sex marriage, and he said Davis clearly should have followed the law all along.

“She’s not being asked to perform a sacrament, she is tasked with ascertaining that the people in front of her, the couple in front of her, have a legal right to get married and to provide them with that license,” he said. “She is not a minister. She actually thinks she works for God there in the county courthouse, when she actually works for Caesar — and someone needs to acquaint her with that fact.”

Or we might attend Mr. Savage himself, who recently blogged, among other notes:

I would say I can’t wait for a Muslim county clerk in, say, Dearborn, Michigan (which has a huge Muslim community), to refuse to issue a marriage license to a Christian couple on the grounds that the this kafir couple hasn’t been paying jizya… but that’s not going to happen. Religious minorities in this country intuitively understand that to empower religious bigots like Davis is to paint bullseyes on their own backs. So the Jesus-freak goons at the Liberty Counsel work to frame discrimination as a “religious freedom” because they’re confident that American Christians will be the ones doing the discriminating, not suffering from it.

This is an important point. Something about functional reality goes here.

(more…)

Oklahoma Virtue

Detail of 'Lucifer', by Franz von Stuck, 1890.

Oklahoma. Republicans. Of course they did:

The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing this year the greatest amount of free Meals and Food Stamps ever, to 46 million people. Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us "Please Do Not Feed the Animals." Their stated reason for the policy is because "The animals will grow dependent on handouts and not learn to take care of themselves." Thus ends today's lesson in irony #OKGOP. (Oklahoma Republican Party, via Facebook, 13 July 2015)The Oklahoma Republican Party is under fire after a controversial Facebook post.

In the post, the Oklahoma GOP compared providing food stamp benefits for Americans in need to feeding animals at national parks.

“The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing this year the greatest amount of free Meals and Food Stamps ever, to 46 million people,” the Oklahoma Republican Party said on Facebook. “Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us ‘Please Do Not Feed the Animals.’ Their stated reason for the policy is because ‘The animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.’ Thus ends today’s lesson in irony #OKGOP.”

(Franklin)

The KFOR report notes the predictable negative reaction, including the obvious question about comparing people to wild animals, an invocation of the words of Jesus Christ, and an identifying conservative denouncing the “counterproductive” “disgrace” and “awful taste” of the post.

Which leaves only the other obvious question: What the hell is wrong with the Oklahoma GOP?

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Image notes: Top ― Detail of Lucifer, by Franz von Stuck, 1890. RightImage of Facebook post by Oklahoma Republican Party, 13 July 2015.

Franklin, Dallas. “Oklahoma Republican Party under fire after controversial Facebook post”. 14 July 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.

Oklahoma

Detail of 'The Virgin Spanking the Christ Child before Three Witnesses: Andre Breton, Paul Eluard, and the Painter', by Max Ernst.  Oil on canvas.  Paris, 1926.  (Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany)

This is a simple exercise in contrasts. Steve Benen explains:

… a major court ruling in Oklahoma, where state officials have been told to stop promoting one religion’s scared tenets on the Capitol grounds. The Tulsa World reported this week:

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday said the Ten Commandments monument at the state Capitol must be removed.

The plaintiffs said its placement at the Capitol constituted the use of public property for the benefit of a system of religion, which is banned by the Oklahoma Constitution.

State law isn’t especially ambiguous. Section II-5 of the Oklahoma Constitution says public property can’t be used to benefit or support any “sect, church, denomination, or system of religion,” either directly or indirectly. When state lawmakers approved a monument to the Protestant version of the Ten Commandments, it was hard to even imagine how this could be legally permissible ....

.... The Republican-led state legislature has been a little hysterical since the decision was handed down, and state House Speaker Jeff Hickman (R) said impeachment proceedings against the Supreme Court’s majority “will be seriously considered.”

To summarize:

(1) Oklahoma state Supreme Court decides under clear dictate of law that a state-sponsored tribute to Christian faith is not permissible on capitol grounds.

(2) Republicans will seriously consider impeaching the justices in retribution for enforcing the law.

Oklahoma.

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Image note: Detail of, The Virgin Spanking the Christ Child before Three Witnesses: Andre Breton, Paul Eluard, and the Painter, by Max Ernst. Oil on canvas. Paris, 1926. (Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany)

Benen, Steve. “This Week in God, 7.4.15”. msnbc. 4 July 2015.