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Thinkage

25/07/2015

“In recent years and elections one would have thought that homosexuality and abortion were the new litmus tests of authentic Christianity. Where did this come from? They never were the criteria of proper membership for the first 2000 years, but reflect very recent culture wars instead. And largely from people who think of themselves as ‘traditionalists’! (The fundamentals were already resolved in the early Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed. Note that none of the core beliefs are about morality at all. The Creeds are more mystical, cosmological, and about aligning our lives inside of a huge sacred story.) When you lose the great mystical level of religion, you always become moralistic about this or that as a cheap substitute. It gives you a false sense of being on higher spiritual ground than others.

“Jesus is clearly much more concerned about issues of pride, injustice, hypocrisy, blindness, and what I have often called ‘The Three Ps’ of power, prestige, and possessions, which are probably 95 percent of Jesus’ written teaching. We conveniently ignore this 95 percent to concentrate on a morality that usually has to do with human embodiment. That’s where people get righteous, judgmental, and upset, for some reason. The body seems to be where we carry our sense of shame and inferiority, and early-stage religion has never gotten much beyond these ‘pelvic’ issues. As Jesus put it, ‘You ignore the weightier matters of the law—justice, mercy, and good faith . . . and instead you strain out gnats and swallow camels’. We worry about what people are doing in bed much more than making sure everybody has a bed to begin with. There certainly is a need for a life-giving sexual morality, and true pro-life morality, but one could sincerely question whether Christian nations and people have found it yet.” — Fr. Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations (Sunday, June 16, 2013):  “New Fundamentals” Are a Contradiction in Terms

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Are You A Monster? Take This Simple Test!

29/06/2015

Cof Frankie edit a

No individual action in and of itself is either moral or immoral, ethical or unethical.  They are moral and ethical only in context.

In the latter part of the twentieth century, a woman was pinned down in the rubble of her home following a devastating earthquake.  A fire started, and not only was there no water flowing in the broken water mains, but the fire departments and paramedics were all swamped with horrendous casualties in their immediate vicinity.

Though neighbors were able to rescue the woman’s husband and children from the rubble, they could not save her.  As the fire grew closer and closer it became obvious the woman would die a slow and horribly agonizing death.

The husband stayed with her as long as he could, comforting her as best as possible, reassuring her that he loved her and would take care of the children…

…then as the flames grew too intense
for him to stay he shot her in the head.

If you do not see that as a kind and just and moral and ethical and loving act, you are a monster incapable of differentiating between good and evil.

A woman who willingly submits to invading soldiers to spare her child from being raped has committed no sin, has done nothing dishonorable, has not betrayed her husband, has not committed adultery.  She sacrificed herself to save an innocent:  She did a just and moral and ethical act; if you cannot see that, you are a monster incapable of differentiating between good and evil.

While millions were being marched off to gas chambers during WWII, some were saved by the khassidey umot ha-olam who looked the Nazis in the face and flat out lied, “No, no Jewish people here” while hiding them in their own homes.

Had their lie been discovered, they would have suffered for protecting Jews, up to and including going to the gas chambers with them.

If you think they committed a sin by lying to murderous anti-Semites in order to save innocent lives, you are a monster incapable of differentiating between good and evil.

Earlier this year I paid one last visit to a friend dying from cancer.

He was heavily sedated; I’m not at all certain he was even aware we were there.

But his wife was by his side, and though she was wracked with anguish she was determined to be as uplifting as possible for her husband even as he lay dying.

She tended to him and talked cheerfully to him and made sure his breathing tube was clear and did everything she could to look after him as he slowly slipped away.

She loved him, and if there is one joy any of us could take away from his passing, it’s that he went with his good and loving mate by his side, staying with him and supporting him as best she could under the most adverse conditions.

Do you think God smiles on their relationship
while condemning another of
equal strength and integrity and compassion
just because it’s between
two members of the same gender?

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Thinkage

2/06/2015

“Equality always wins.  And when it does, the victory is in a very real sense a triumph for the moral teachings of Jesus Christ, whether or not the reformers view their efforts in religious terms.  No institution — not even a church founded in Christ’s name— can withstand the subversive power of his message.” — Damon Linker, How Ireland’s gay marriage vote exposes the catch-22 of modern Christianity

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Thinkage

28/05/2015

“If you had asked me what causes drug addiction at the start, I would have looked at you as if you were an idiot, and said: ‘Drugs. Duh.’  It’s not difficult to grasp.  I thought I had seen it in my own life.  We can all explain it.  Imagine if you and I and the next twenty people to pass us on the street take a really potent drug for twenty days.  There are strong chemical hooks in these drugs, so if we stopped on day twenty-one, our bodies would need the chemical.  We would have a ferocious craving.  We would be addicted.  That’s what addiction means.

“One of the ways this theory was first established is through rat experiments — ones that were injected into the American psyche in the 1980s, in a famous advert by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.  You may remember it.  The experiment is simple.  Put a rat in a cage, alone, with two water bottles.  One is just water.  The other is water laced with heroin or cocaine.  Almost every time you run this experiment, the rat will become obsessed with the drugged water, and keep coming back for more and more, until it kills itself.

“The advert explains: ‘Only one drug is so addictive, nine out of ten laboratory rats will use it.  And use it.  And use it.  Until dead.  It’s called cocaine.  And it can do the same thing to you.’

“But in the 1970s, a professor of Psychology in Vancouver called Bruce Alexander noticed something odd about this experiment.  The rat is put in the cage all alone.  It has nothing to do but take the drugs.  What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently?  So Professor Alexander built Rat Park.  It is a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want.  What, Alexander wanted to know, will happen then?

“In Rat Park, all the rats obviously tried both water bottles, because they didn’t know what was in them.  But what happened next was startling.

“The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water.  They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used.  None of them died.  While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.” — Johann Hari, “The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think”

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Thinkage

3/05/2015

“In June, Jerad and Amanda Miller shot two police officers and another person dead in Las Vegas.  They had come from the standoff at the ranch of Cliven Bundy, where a bunch of white shitheels actually pointed guns at federal agents and everyone went home without a shot being fired or anyone being arrested, despite Bundy being guilty of essentially the same crime as Eric Garner, except Bundy owed the government more than a million bucks in grazing fees and not a few coins on single cigarettes.  The Millers were anti-government nutzoids who thought cops were oppressors who were gonna git their guns or some such shit.  They left a note on the scene saying they wanted to start a revolution.

“You know what didn’t happen after the shooting?  Police associations didn’t say that Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman had blood on her hands.  The cops didn’t condemn the armed numbskulls at Bundy ranch, who were, you know, protesters.  And the Vegas police unions most definitely did not say they were now a ‘wartime’ department, as the New York City PBA supposedly did.

“Imagine the shitstorm that’d happen if the cops said that violent white people were the problem and they needed to be stopped.  It would have actually made sense.  The Millers were directly connected with the Bundy ranch uprising.  The guy who shot Liu and Ramos was a solo dickhead with a Facebook page.” — Lee Papa, “Random Thoughts on Spreading the Blame for a Cop Killing

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Thinkage

3/05/2015

“We love America just as much as they do. But in a different way. You see, they love America like a 4-year-old loves his mommy. Liberals love America like grown-ups. To a 4-year-old, everything Mommy does is wonderful and anyone who criticizes Mommy is bad. Grown-up love means actually understanding what you love, taking the good with the bad and helping your loved one grow. Love takes attention and work and is the best thing in the world.

“That’s why we liberals want America to do the right thing. We know America is the hope of the world, and we love it and want it to do well.” — Al Franken, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

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Thinkage

22/04/2015

“‘The country has lost its moral compass’ is a dog whistle.

“Here in the United States when you pull the thread on ‘the country has lost its moral compass’ what follows, clanking and banging like a string of tin cans tied to a dog’s tail, is thinly disguised racism, misogyny, homophobia, hate, fear, bigotry, and nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ when people who looked and thought just like you owned everything.

“Every conversation that begins with ‘The country has lost its moral compass’ always and inevitably ends with the only solution being the commenter’s religion. Always. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

“And every single time you protest and tell me I’m wrong, as soon as you attempt to explain how ‘the country has lost its moral compass’ you always plow through thinly disguised racism, misogyny, homophobia, hate, fear, bigotry, and the good old days on the way to your religion. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

“Folks, today is no better or worse, morally, than any other day.

“We haven’t lost our moral compass as a nation. We never had one to begin with.

“And that’s a good thing.

“We face problems as a nation, as a civilization, just as we always have.

“The world is always going to hell, just ask anybody.

“Attempting to impose your morality on the rest of us isn’t the solution.

“It’s the whole damned problem.” — Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station: “The Myth of the Moral Compass”

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Thinkage

21/04/2015

“[T]he useful way to understand fascism, at least for the purposes of [redacted], is as an aesthetic – as a particular mix of fetishes and paranoias that always crops up in culture, occasionally seizing some measure of power, essentially always with poor results. It can basically be reduced to a particular sort of story. The fascist narrative comes, in effect, in two parts. The first involves a nostalgic belief in a past golden age – a historical moment in which things were good. In the fascist narrative, this golden age was ended because of an act of disingenuous betrayal – what’s called the ‘stab in the back myth.’ (The most famous form, and the one that gave the myth its name, being the idea that German Jews had betrayed the German army, leading to the nation’s defeat in World War I.) Since then, the present and sorry state of affairs has been maintained by the backstabbers, generally through conspiratorial means.

“The second part is a vision of what should happen, which centers on a heroic figure who speaks the truth of the conspiracy and leads a populist restoration of the old order. The usual root of this figure is (a bad misreading of) Nietzsche’s idea of the ubermensch – a figure of such strength that morality does not really apply to him. He’s at once a fiercely individualistic figure – a man unencumbered by the degenerate culture in which he lives – and a collectivist figure who is to be followed passionately and absolutely. A great leader, as it were. (This is, counterintuitively, something of a libertarian figure. Ayn Rand’s heroes – the great and worthy men who deserve their freedom – are archetypal fascist heroes, because they rise up over the pettiness of their society and become great leaders.) It is not, to be clear, that all cults of personality are fascist, any more than all conspiracy theories are. Rather, it is the combination – the stab-in-the-back conspiracy theory coupled with the great leader that all men must follow – that defines the fascist aesthetic.” – Philip Sandifer, Guided by the Beauty of Their Weapons

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Thinkage

19/04/2015

“I did examine myself…Solitude did increase my perception. But here’s the tricky thing—when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. With no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant. The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand. I didn’t even have a name. I never felt lonely. To put it romantically: I was completely free.” — Christopher Thomas Knight, The Last True Hermit

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Thinkage

5/04/2015

“We in the United States live in a deathly social context that’s marked by consumerism and militarism and the loss of the common good. Younger people that are committed to the gospel have to think carefully about how to critique that dominant system of military consumerism and how to imagine alternative forms of life that are not defined by those corrosive pressures…That ideological system causes us to be very afraid, to regard other people as competitors, or as threats, or as rivals. It causes us to think of the world in very frightened and privatistic forms.

“The gospel very much wants us to think in terms of a neighborhood, in terms of being in solidarity with other people, in sharing our resources, and of living out beyond ourselves. The gospel contradicts the dominant values of our system, which encourages self-protection and self-sufficiency at the loss of the common good. The church is in some ways a reflection of those dominant values.” — Walter Brueggemann, “It’s Not a Matter of Obeying the Bible”

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