Happy Easter and thanks again and again for your prayers and thank God…

April 16, 2017

Well happy Easter to all. I’m not doing much. Did not attend a sunrise service or go to church.

Oh, well of course I didn’t. I’m not religious. However, I am not anti-religious, and if I were I would certainly be a Christian, and I guess that is because that is part of the wider culture I was brought up in.

I tend to steer clear of addressing religion directly because it can be such a sensitive subject.

I respect the primary religions as long as I feel people are actually trying to follow the guidance of God or some supreme being or concept of one with the intent of good will toward all. I do not respect religion when it is used as a device to divide people and to intimidate people as it is in too many places.

The best education I ever got on religion was a short course I took at a Methodist church when I was maybe 13. The father of one of my friends was a Methodist minister. But he did not teach the class. A man named Bob Singh taught it. He was of the Sikh religion of India (often pronounced seek instead of sick because it sounds better in English). He wore a turban. These days many of them who wear the turbans (not all do) are confused by some as being of the Islamic faith and then in turn some people who are quick to hate further confuse them with being of that radical sect that seems to want to kill us all. Not true, the Sikhs are some of the most peace-loving and friendly and gracious people I have known. But what I got out of the class is that of the major religions all believe in pretty much the same thing and even share the same characters in their histories. So what is the problem? I often wonder. I think it’s man.

And a little bit more about my attitude toward religion. I was brought up in a non-religious household. My parents were not religious but they were moral and hardworking. It could be said that their ideas of morality came out of the tenets of Christianity. At least one of my siblings is a devout Christian and I respect that.

Enough about my own family.

I used to take on a sardonic attitude toward people who in a crisis turned to religion. But then came my own crisis several years ago when I was diagnosed with incurable but treatable and so far survivable cancer (if that makes sense). Then for a time I talked of attending church, which one I was not sure. I never did.

Have I prayed to God? Yes, at various times in my life I have, mostly on the behalf of others. I guess I was praying to some supreme force or being but I called this force God in my mind.

A little aside from this: I would think that despite what the Bible says, that man was made in God’s image, this God or supreme being would not likely resemble anything we know. I just think that. And what about this question? one I have never heard anyone ask, although many must have:

If God created us, who created God?

But there is comfort in religion. And it is natural, I think, to look to something bigger than ourselves for guidance and help and hope.

I know that when I was going through cancer treatment and it was not known if I would make it many, many people from more than one church — good Christians all — prayed on my behalf. And I feel somewhat like an ingrate by not accepting their religion with all my heart.

But of course being good Christians they will forgive that shortcoming on my part.

However, in all sincerity if you are one of them, one who prayed for me, thank you, and thank God.

Actually I think I previously offered my thanks or actually in some way I say thanks every day.

I should leave off there, but I will add, I’ll keep an open mind and who knows? I may finally accept the almighty into my heart.


All the jailed Kentucky clerk has to do is resign her post and she is free…

September 6, 2015

 

UPDATE: (9/8/15 2:31 PDT)

So real quick I see that the defiant clerk has been let out of jail. But she still maintains she should be able to defy man-made law by what she interprets to be God’s law. I need to study all this, but what I can say is that if every government official, elected and otherwise, and using their own interpretation to boot, were allowed to decide which public laws to follow, what a mess things would be and that would be the end of our democracy.

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Sorry, but I don’t get the story of the Kentucky clerk who opted to go to jail rather than issue marriage licenses to homosexuals.

I mean she had the option of fulfilling here duties in office and following the law or resigning.

She states that issuing licenses to homosexuals violates her religious beliefs.

It seems that some fundamentalists don’t understand that freedom of religion means that our government is secular. We cannot favor one religion over another or countermand laws passed by our legislatures or as interpreted from the Constitution by our judiciary based on the beliefs of one religion or sect thereof.

I ask: what would Christian religious fundamentalists think if a county clerk decided to act on laws out of the Koran or some other religious book because he or she followed that religion?

We have a secular government and that’s the way it is.

I do think sending the woman to jail is harsh and wished that could have been avoided. Actually, it seems to me she just should have been relieved of her post and that is that. It may be that under the legal system in effect that was not a possible route. And it is clear that she voluntarily chose jail to make a statement.

I just think that Christian fundamentalists only support freedom of religion when they feel it benefits them, but really feel that we are a theocracy. Or they believe that Christianity (and their form of it) is at least the de facto state religion.

The First Amendment  of our Bill of Rights reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

—————-

Now I’m not going to get into some kind of scholarly interpretation here, but I think the first sentence makes it clear or has been interpreted to mean that the government just stays out of religion — except to guarantee everyone has the freedom to believe as they choose. If you as a government official simply chose not to enforce laws that you feel are counter to your religion and your right to do so was upheld, the government would in effect be saying that such religion is the established religion. And put another way: we just can’t have individual office holders and bureaucrats deciding which laws to enforce and which not, based on religion or anything else.

But certainly I believe the Kentucky clerk in no way should be forced by the government to do something that violates her religious principles. But the remedy is clear: resign the post.

p.s.

Even though I am not officially religious, I have to admit in my upbringing Christianity seemed to be synonymous with religion or going to church, even though I recognized that there were other religions. And furthermore I saw that public institutions sometimes bent the rules a little with Christian prayers used to begin meetings, traditional Christmas celebrated in the school, and we even said a little prayer in my public school kindergarten before we had our Graham crackers and milk. None of this hurt anything, except that was then and this is now. I have not read yet that people have actually been forbidden to follow their religion on their own time, as long as they were not somehow involving others or forcing others who were not so inclined to do so.

I’m all for tolerance, though. My dad once told me when they were doing an invocation: “just look at the floor”.

 

 


Conservatives turn liberal when it comes to money…

February 27, 2014

It’s interesting, amusing even, when usually conservative business interests suddenly become quite liberal when it comes to money issues.

I mean gay rights (I would prefer to say “homosexual rights” but gay seems to be the word in common usage) is usually a social issue connected with the liberal or progressive agenda. But the pressure from business interests on Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (of fame for signing into law the famous or infamous your-documents-please immigration law) was intense. She saw the light and vetoed the so-called anti-gay/pro religious rights bill. Business interests were terrified that such a law would have a negative effect on business. Companies said they would not locate their businesses in Arizona if it became the law and the Arizona tourism industry and the airlines were against it. I mean they want money from gays just as much as they want it from anyone else — it all spends the same. And in some lines of work gay workers are in demand (as my late mom used to say: “they’re always so talented”).

So much for morals.

No I don’t mean to say there was any real moral issue here. It’s just that the bill was being sold as a moral thing. The idea purportedly was that a business person would have a right not to serve a customer whose morals he or she disagreed with or I should say whose social arrangement was against their religious tenets.

Well there is freedom of religion guaranteed under our First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution but it does not trump individual rights. My religious beliefs (or lack of them) give me no right to somehow interfere with your personal rights.

If you are in business you are obligated to serve the public without discrimination. And if you do not care for that, then maybe you should not be in business. I think I heard there was an issue, somewhere along the line, of a wedding photographer refusing to take photos of a gay wedding. I have to say that is a tricky one. I mean on the one had it might seem that if the practice of homosexual marriage is repugnant to an individual he or she should not have to take any part in it. But maybe when you do business with the public that puts you in a different light. We could hardly have supermarkets, for example, refusing to sell groceries to gays on the grounds doing so would force them (the employees) to help promote the gay lifestyle.

But anyway, it seems economic activity is a good promoter of individual freedom and the tolerance of varied lifestyles.

Money does indeed talk.


Sorcery charges in Iran portend what could happen in U.S. if religious fundamentalists take control…

May 7, 2011

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black or accusing it of black magic, I can hardly take the folks in Iran’s higher ruling echelons seriously when they have political rivals arrested for practicing “sorcery”.

It seems that the slightly eccentric President Mahmoud Amadinejad, noted for his idiotic pronouncements and tirades, his opposition to the survival of Israel and his denial that the Holocaust ever happened, his looking as if he forgot to shave, and his penchant for wearing what most would call a light work jacket, instead  of the customary coat and tie, or even robes in his part of the world, is having a feud with Iran’s supreme religious leader Ayatollah Khamenei (not to be confused with his predecessor of a similar name), who claims that he, the Ayatollah, is the final arbiter of all things political as well things religious and cultural (in other words everything).

So without getting into all the details, Akmadinejad has seen some of his cohorts arrested for practicing sorcery.

Being able to level a charge of criminal sorcery would be a handy tool to have here in the United States for a political rival who feared his or her opponent’s charisma and ability to mesmerize audiences. For instance, Sarah Palin seems to manage to captivate certain  audiences (ignorant though they may be). Maybe she’s a witch. Maybe The Donald is a warlock. Have them locked up for sorcery. Or maybe they in turn would level charges of black magic against our first black president (that would be Barack Obama, not Bill Clinton).

It seems a little strange and ironic to me that the supreme religious leader in Iran would accuse anyone of practicing sorcery. I mean, I do not want to offend anyone who considers themselves religious or anyone who is a religious leader on any level. I have to explain that I personally cannot claim to be religious, even though I often invoke the name of God and even have a kind of latent belief in some type of holy (or higher) being and because of cultural upbringing lean toward Christianity. But to be a regious leader, such as the Ayatollah, or even the Pope, seems like, on its face, must require the belief in the supernatural by both the leader and the followers who recognize the leader.

So one sorcerer accuses another of being a sorcerer.

On the serious side, the goings on in Iran point to the dangers of having a religion-controlled government, a theocracy, or even just an official religion.

It is not a stretch to say the same or similar goings on could happen here in the United States if the religious right ever got complete control (they have made serious inroads into the Republican Party, with potential candidates feeling it necessary to make their appearances and kowtows before fundamentalist Christian gatherings).


Appreciating and giving thanks for Thanksgiving…

November 25, 2010

The freeway was crowded with cars last night what with everyone going here and there to be with family. Well if everyone goes somewhere, who stays home?

I’m in a good mood, even though I also have the sadness that this will be the first Thanksgiving in more than 40 years I will not spend with my wife, she having passed away this past summer. I’m in a good mood because I will be with family and family is what I need right now.

It is heartening to me to see that people are so eager to be with family. Maybe we all haven’t quit the family thing after all in this increasingly impersonal world.

Of course I know the holidays can be a tricky time too when it comes to family get togethers. Sometimes old rivalries and jealousies, aided and abetted at times by alcohol, come out.

But let’s hope that is not the case for you reading this, and my advice is that if you see it coming — back off, nothing is to be gained.

I’ve been so busy driving the long haul that I am not fully up on the latest nonsense from Sarah Palin, but from listening to John Rothman on KGO last night I understand she has criticized JFK for a statement or speech he made about separation of church and state.

You’ll recall that his campaign for the presidency was threatened by charges that he being a Catholic would mean he would be taking cues from the Pope. He answered that although he was indeed a devout Catholic, he understood the need for separation of church and state in a nation where our constitution guarantees religious freedom.

There’s a lot of irony here. We know from our earliest school days, dressing up like pilgrims, that those funny-clad folks came over here for religious freedom. But strangely they would not have been too tolerant of anyone who did not believe like they did.

But here’s the deal as far as I can see it — and like so much else, I have blogged this before:

You cannot have religious freedom (which to me includes the right not to be religious) if the government in any way favors or otherwise recognizes one religion over the other.

On the other hand, we (the U.S.) are by our history nominally (maybe not the right word) a Christian nation. And we do have In God We Trust written on our money (although that does not specify the Christian God, but we know that is what it means). But we have also agreed to allow all to worship or not worship as they please.

I’m not going to go on with all of this now, since I need to prepare for visiting with family and chowing down on Thanksgiving dinner.

But I will say I am thankful for family and the bounty God (or whatever supreme power) has bestowed upon me. And I recognize that not all are so fortunate.

And what do I do for the less fortunate? Not a lot. I do not feel that I have the money to spare for charity directly, but I do pay taxes, and I do not begrudge any of that money going for those in true need.

And I am trying to get out of this blog and not digress into further subjects or variations of the same subject. But I wish there were some way to create a public assistance program that targeted individuals and families in true need due to circumstances beyond their control, such as unemployment and health problems. But a lot of our social service funding is wasted (and I mean a lot) on people who make a career out of gaming the system. Yes it works that way at both ends of the ladder. People at the bottom game the welfare system and people at the top game the federal tax structure and the financial system.

Honest people carry the burden. But they also have a clean conscience and will not have so much explaining to do when they meet God (or the supreme power).

And that is my sermon for the day.

Enjoy! HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


Even with freedom of the press, do we really need to give a crazy reverend a platform?

September 9, 2010

I’m not usually one to get down on the news media publishing or broadcasting things, especially since I believe in freedom of the press and since I also worked for many years as a journalist and besides news is news whether one likes it or not.

But I would not mind if some of the major news outlets played down the story of this nut case The Rev. Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida who plans to burn copies of the Quran (Koran), the holy book of the religion of Islam. Should the crazy so-called preacher be given a platform?

In addition I am not sure but whether there are grounds for some type of law enforcement action or court injunction against him on perhaps such charges as inciting a riot, disturbing the peace or even civil rights violations, seeing as such action might be akin to the KKK conducting a cross burning. I’m not sure that a cross burning that is not on someone’s front lawn and is designed to terrorize particular victims is against the law, but everyone knows what the idea of such things are. And then of course there is also the fire safety issue concerning the planned Quran burning set for the anniversary of 9/11 on Saturday.

Another strange thing I have noticed is that this crazy reverend in the photos I have seen bears a striking resemblance to the late Buddy Ebsen of Beverly Hillbillies fame — my apologies to Mr. Ebsen’s memory.

I do not say that the story of all of this should not be reported. It is a legitimate story concerning the ongoing controversy over world-wide terrorism and its connection with Islam and whether it is really a part of Islam or just concerns actions taken by those hiding behind the shield of Islam. And certainly if a lot of people were to take part, it would be a major news story.

But for now it basically seems to be something about a weirdo who claims to be a man of God and who may in reality be using this as a publicity stunt because he and his church and other enterprises have money problems.

And I have to ask anyone who would do this, burn Qurans, what is the difference between burning one religion’s holy book and another’s. Should not Moslems (or Muslims) then burn the Holy Bible?

There is also the question of what this action does for the safety of military personnel and others. It is one more excuse for terrorists and their sympathizers to attack Americans, although they probably are not waiting for another excuse.

I am glad that so many people, religious leaders included, have condemned what one obviously demented man wants to do.

——————–

ADD 1:

Since I posted the original version President Obama has spoken out against the planned Quran burning. Of course the crazies among  us will just say he’s a Muslim anyway (and for the record, as far as anyone of intelligence knows, unless he is a secret or closet Muslim, he is actually a professed Christian only).

——————-

The only good thing out of all of this may be that the rest of the world can both see that most Americans do not approve (I hope that is so) but at the same time we have so much freedom here that the man is safe to do it anyway (what I suggested notwithstanding).

ADD 2:

I guess you can’t unring a bell, so this hate monger of a reverend already got what he wanted — he is news, with even the president commenting upon his planned action. But news as pure entertainment has certainly cheapened news.


First Amendment protects mosque building plan, but we need to keep an eye on it…

August 7, 2010

When I saw a photo on the Time Magazine online site of the rear ends of Muslims praying in Washington, D.C. in connection with a story about the controversy over the planned building of an Islamic mosque near the 9/11 ground zero site in New York, I recalled that I used to tell my now late wife that the best way to strike back at that part of the Muslim world that is out to get us was to wait till they get down on their knees to pray to Mecca and take that opportunity to kick ’em in the behind.

My own silliness aside, I don’t see how the building of the proposed mosque, which got New York Landmark Commission approval this past week and which has the blessings, so to speak, of the current mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, but not of the former mayor and former Republican primary presidential candidate and all-around stick in the mud Rudy Giuliani, can be denied when we have the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

As we all know, the First Amendment guarantees religious freedom and prohibits our government from favoring one belief over another.

Opponents say it would be disrespectful to the surviving family members of 9/11 victims (probably conveniently setting aside the fact many were Muslim) and the victims themselves, and furthermore, they are suspicious of what might be the real intention of those building it — might they use it as a meeting place to work out further plots against our nation?

Now that last point is of some valid concern. And I would think that the authorities need to be aware of that possibility. But the constitution says explicitly that the government is not supposed to mess with the practice of religion or favor one over the other — even though many Christians would say, yes, yes, of course we have religious freedom, but ours (Christianity) is the historical main religion in the U.S. and needs special consideration.

But you know, I’m all for the proper undercover authorities keeping their eye out for conspirators against the nation, but I don’t think conspirators are limited to hatching their plots in churches or mosques.

I am unclear as to who all might be behind this mosque project. I know that the main person is supposed to be a supposedly moderate Muslim imam known as Faisal Abdul Rauf. Some, however, charge that he only pretends to be moderate for western ears (don’t know). At any rate, as long as there is no evidence that the project is anything more than a benign religious one, I don’t see any legal basis for denial.

P.s.

It does seem troubling that the silence from the part of the Muslim community who are peaceful and not out to get us that we are told exists seems deafening at times.

P.s. P.s.

It would also be troubling if the new mosque, which I understand is also to be an interfaith center, were to be used as a forum for spreading views subversive to our nation. But that can happen even in supposedly Christian churches — Jeremiah Wright?

And some of the white or predominantly white Christian fundamentalist churches seem to put out a message of extreme intolerance and even defiance of our democratic (note the small d) government.

So, having noted that, I have reminded myself of why subversives might prefer to meet in a church or mosque or temple, or whatever — to hide under the umbrella of the First Amendment.

Yes. Freedom of speech and religion and movement our society offers does pose a threat to security, but we have managed to come this far. I think we can continue without going to the police state — we don‘t want to become Iran.