Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Dumber and Louder

One of my favorite scenes from the Simpsons is when an angry mob encroaches on Mayor Quimby's office.

"Are these morons getting dumber or just louder?" the Mayor inquires to his aide.

He checks his clipboard and replies, "Dumber, sir."

Sometimes, I wonder.

I decided to go camping this weekend. I figured it would be relaxing to get away and commune with nature. Lord knows, I need to relax, right? It's a sad state when the quietest place I know is my own bathroom. All day long, while camping, I was surrounded by loud, obnoxious people. They were on the bus ride to the canoes. They were on the canoes. They were in the tents to my right. They were in the tents to my left. They drove up in loud diesel trucks, and they played loud music from their speakers, while loudly communicating with one another. They probably live loudly by their neighbors, and loudly take over a campsite full of paying customers. They are all over.

When I came home I went to Target. Outside were ten employees, sitting under the only tree in front of the building. They were piled up like old tires. They, of course, were loudly yelling at another employee half-way across the parking lot.

"You best get inside. They know you've been out here for 30 minutes!"
"Yeah, yeah, whatever."

I had to scuttle past them just to get in the door, ducking their shouts back and fourth. I felt like I was in their way. I found the whole scene to be very carnie-like. Is this the best place Target has for its employees to take a smoke break? I think I am in favor of letting them all destroy their lungs in a small back room, like the good old days.

I'm a social Darwinist. Stupid people will stupidly yell at each other when they go camping and a few will probably end up dying in camping accidents. But, it wont happen fast enough for the rest of us. They will pass their entire lives away, oblivious to the reflection that a few quiet hours can provide. To them, camping, and life, is about being heard. It is about aggressively clawing for attention even if it means irritating the rest of us who just want to sit and watch the stars.

Are people getting dumber or just louder? Dumb people have a way of ruining the fun for everyone. If 29 years has taught me anything it's that we will find a way to ruin anything fun in this country. TV, camping, sporting events, the government, churches, shopping--they have all been taken over by loud, foolish people. We have special stop-light arrows telling us when it's safe to turn left across traffic. I noticed my first one in 1994. "This is odd" I thought. "Who can't figure out when it's safe to turn left?"

Apparently, many people. They're probably too busy yelling at each other to notice on-coming traffic. And slowly, and yes, quietly, signals have been set up telling us when it's OK to turn, when it's OK to own a gun, or drink, or drive, or let your kids out to play. More people want to set up signals telling us how to be decent, how to relate to God, and how to run other countries. Maybe, the great thing that democracy and freedom have shown is that many people just can't handle freedom. We're not really free because the loud, stupid people force the government to save us from ourselves in so many areas.

While some of us are responsible enough to not yell across parking lots, let our kids run wild all over Target, block isles and shamble about hopelessly, sensible enough to turn left at the right time, and put our our camp fires, and keep our music down--I have found that we are in the minority. And I wish it wasn't like this. I wish I didn't have to feel like I was an oddity because I don't like to yell. I wish people would just let their actions speak for themselves, rather than loudly reacting to every stimulus that reaches their hollow heads. I would really like to be able to go camping, or to a store without feeling the need to shake the loud, thoughtless people who drive so many nails through my brain.

I would like to think that nature would take its course with these people. 5,000 years ago people who couldn't work with others starved to death. Now, they just ruin our lives. I need to let it go, because that's how it is: with the coming of industry, with the TV, with the electric guitar, came noise. These things fuel our economy and our pop culture and they whittle away at our minds. I'll bet 500 years ago a man could think. I'll bet he could find a place in nature and be there, and melt into the background. And I'll bet he could find the answers he was looking for in peace and quiet.

Blog O' The Week

Thanks to Riverfront Times (http://www.rftstl.com/) for naming ThoughtAlarm their "Blog Of The Week".

The article in RFT also alerted me to two glaring grammatical errors in the article they used. Henceforth, they have been fixed. That's typical for me.

In case you naysayers don't believe me, here's the whole article.


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Wrigley Stadium


And then there were two. Jeff Gordon earned the dubious honor of being the second person booed while leading the seventh inning stretch at Wrigley Field. The first, of course, was Ozzie Osborne. Gordon was invited to sing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" at Wrigley Field. He started by calling it "Wrigley Stadium", then proceeded to get booed into Lake Michigan. You shouldn't have turned down those cue cards, Jeff.

Watch the whole video here.


Other famous people booed during the 7th inning stretch:

Dick Cheney--Yankees Stadium
Donald Trump--Yankees Stadium
William Hung--Skydome, Toronto

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

What have you done lately?

Homer's lifelong dreams, in order!

1. Own the Dallas Cowboys
2. Run out on the field during a baseball game
3. Be a monorail conductor
4. Be a contestant on "The Gong Show"
5. Be a blackjack dealer
6. Eat the world's biggest hoagie
7. Manage a beautiful country singer

Dream big, little grasshoppers!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Hell To Pay

The "Nuclear Option" was almost used by Republicans in the Senate to ban judicial filibusters. Democrats argued that this would be a serious blow to minority rights. Cooler heads prevailed last night as moderates reached an agreement brokered by John McCain (R). Rest assured, fundamentalists were on mass media within minutes registering their disgust throughout the world.

Dr. James C. Dobson, head of the Focus on the Family, http://www.family.org , one of the conservative groups that had made an end to judicial filibusters a top priority, said the agreement "represents a complete bailout and a betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats."

Last month, a telecast from a Kentucky church sponsored by the Family Research Council was dubbed "Justice Sunday: Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith." This event was aimed at energizing evangelicals and featured video remarks by Senator Bill first (R) in opposition to the filibuster and a warning by James Dobson, a Christian radio personality and founder of Focus on the Family, that Republicans who ignored the message would "pay in four years."

Religious conservatives say a record turnout of so-called "values voters" was pivotal last year in GOP efforts to re-elect Bush and to strengthen the party's hold on Congress. Now, they say they want the White House and Congress to deliver on their agenda.

Apparently there will be hell to pay from the religious right when they don't get their way.

Dobson and other fundamentalists are proceeding with organizational zeal to erect a theocracy in this country. They believe they can do it better than others from Judeo-Christian history who have failed before them: Israel, the Pharisees, Constantine, the popes of the Dark Ages, various kings of England... No, no, this time, it will be different and better and more glorious. This time faith and spirituality will be properly compelled onto the subjects.

Obviously, fundamentalism has never worked in history. The problem--not to mention that it goes against the founding principles for this country and has no New Testament basis--is that it's power rests not in individual decision, but in coercion from an organization in power. What men like Dobson are saying is that you can't decide for yourself, they know what's best for you and will decide for you. We work hard to force liberty and justice throughout the world, but here at home want to deny people's decision making ability about the most personal of matters--their faith? You can force people to bend their knee, but you can't force them to change their hearts.

Still unsure? When's the last time you met a fundamentalist who actually impressed you? I've gone to their churches. Theirs is a clock-punching spirituality. You too could join a congregation of spiritual zombies who look down on those outside their doors. But, in our free market way of thinking, that simply will not sell.

So, I think people like Dobson know history. They know most Christians who go to church just do not put up a very good witness to the less devout. They know, pound for pound, there's very little difference between those zealous Christians and the average slob. It's much easier to pray and demand Court Justices do God's work, than expect God's elect to be people of integrity. Bureaucratic intervention is probably the more effective option. After failing to generate any Christians with integrity, they turn to the government. Even though this method has failed for thousands of years, and will continue to fail until Christians humbly accept that the movement starts in their heart and with their relationships. That's how Jesus did it, and it was hard work. And in the end he let people decide for themselves. If every Christian worked as hard on their own lives as they do keeping Dr. James Dobson well funded, nothing could stop the revival that would occur.

The best we can hope for is that fundamentalists do indeed make Republicans "pay" for their insolence. Maybe then evangelicals will worry about the plank of wood in their own eyes. Besides, Republicans just aren't playing along! The President is saying faith is a matter of personal decision. The judiciary was unable to save Teri Schiavo, and Republicans had a chance to make them pay by banning filibusters and clearing the way for a hacking up of the judicial branch. And what did their representatives do? They brokered a compromise with heathen Democrats!

1. Unable to produce faithful Christians
2. Unable to change government

Fundamentalists are losers and there will be hell to pay.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Song of the Week

"Finding Out Love is Blind"
-- Louis XIV

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

World Asks White House to Retract False War

The White House complained Monday (5/16) that an inaccurate Newsweek report based on an anonymous source had damaged the U.S. image overseas by claiming U.S. interrogators desecrated the Koran at Guantanamo Bay. The erroneous report sparked violence across the Middle East, leading to 17 deaths.

"It's puzzling that while Newsweek new acknowledges that they got the facts wrong, they refused to retract the story," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. "The report had serious consequences. People have lost their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged."

In similar events, the Muslim world has been asking for a retraction of U.S. forces in Iraq for the invasion based on anonymous sources and false evidence; a decision that has cost thousands of American and hundreds of thousands of Muslim lives, and damaged the U.S. reputation for years to come.

On March 19, 2003 the United States and coalition forces invaded Iraq. The goal was to depose Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction and to drive out terrorists. The White House claimed that these were imminent threats, based on "evidence" that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Africa. The White House later conceded that this evidence had been discredited. Also sited was Iraq's attempt to buy aluminum tubes. These were later found to be purchased for Iraq's conventional weapons program.

After occupying the country no unconventional weapons or terrorist ties were found. In an ironic twist, the same United Nations sanctions the White House claimed were not working were found to be exactly what was preventing Saddam from getting not only unconventional weapons but basic food and medical supplies for Iraqis. The occupation of Iraq, now for the purpose of causing democratic reform in the Middle East, has caused terrorism to increase by fueling anti-American extremism, and has led to atrocities such as Abu Grhaib.

It's puzzling to many that while the White House got the facts wrong, they not only have not retracted, rethought, or recanted, they were widely re-elected. U.S.taxpayers, the parents of soldiers killed in action, Iraqi civilians, and the Muslim world still waits for an apology.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Scenes From A Men's Room

Who are these guys who like to read the paper in the men's room while they're taking a dump? Call me crazy, but I don't like to touch anything in the men's room if it isn't necessary for good hygiene. Plus, being expeditious is prudent as well. It literally smells like crap in there, and the guy in the stall next to me is rifling through the business section checking stocks? Jesus, people! If a paper you see: leave it be! I've seen these newspapers strewn all over the floor, or perched neatly on top of the toilet tank. It should make no difference. They put those toilet seat covers in there for a reason and that guy was still in thumbing away when the stall door hit me on the ass on the way out? I know, we all need breaks from work. But go down to the shop, escape to the sidewalk, grab some coffee, but don't dig through a bathroom paper. Please, Hammer, don't hurt 'em.

Thought of the Week

Thought of the week goes to Howard Stern who concocted an idea that the world would be a better place if we blew up the moon. Apparently Gov. Schwarzenegger agreed too. He called up Stern's show and gave full support to the idea saying that he had already established a panel to study the feasibility of such a project. He pontificated on a time when women's menstrual cycles would no longer be controlled by our celestial neighbor. Pundits like Joe Scarburough and women's groups reacted immediately calling for the Governor to retract his statements and apologize. Unfortunately, the whole thing was a bit set up by Howard himself--it was only an impersonator calling in to talk about destroying the moon, not the real Arnold. Duh, people.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Observing the National Day of Prayer

Today's the national day of prayer so I decided to peruse our nation’s national day of prayer web site at http://www.nationaldayofprayer.org/.

I found that the national observance will feature such luminaries as: Christian fluff writer Max Lucado, the ethical Tom Delay, the pharisaic Dr. James Dobson (thank you madam chairwoman).

Looking further I found everything a good Christian could want, from bulletin insiders, to a prayer guide! Yes! In the prayer guide I found the "Freedom Five", advice to pray for five different areas of our country. One of the areas is education. "Pray," the guide reads, "that your schools will get 'back to the basics' when it comes to educating our children, instilling the leaders of tomorrow with a respect for the Judeo-Christian values upon which our nation was founded."

I find it interesting that, of the five areas, government, and media received five lines, education received four. But the areas where Christians should be working the hardest, their own personal lives—church, and family--each received only two lines of prayer. What is more important? That a teacher in a school tells a student about Jesus, or that that student's own parent does the job? Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he said, "Take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbors."

Also, there is advice on how students can plan a "Freedom Student Rally!" And the advice is to find a location other than a church. "Somewhere like a school auditorium would be ideal. The high school auditorium is a lot better than middle school because high schoolers do not want to go to the middle school but middle schoolers love to go to the high school." Very savvy! "Give Away Donated Prizes!" it says. "Teenagers love free stuff!...Things like pizza, movie tickets, and clothing are enticing to teenagers. Have the drawing during the event and then finish up the night with the biggest prizes at the end to ensure everyone stays."

I don't remember Jesus using any gimmicks to get people to pay attention to him. In fact, he seemed to have a hard time keeping people away from him. Maybe this shows some of the fundamental differences between organized religion and Jesus? One is full of gimmicks and give-aways, the other used relationships and spoke truth. As far as I could tell, on this section of the web site devoted to the national day of prayer, two sentences were devoted to the topic of prayer.

Finally, I visited the NDP store. Max Lucado is wisely using his connections to the event to sell yet another book ($12.00). You can buy a lithograph for $94.00. Merchandise ranged from a $130.00 "Prayer at Valley Forge" painting to a $.50 commemorative pen. Everything a Christian needs to super-charge a relationship with God!

I am not against prayer. But I believe it is a private matter. Jesus gave so little advice about prayer that he had to be asked directly. Other than that he seems to have assumed that how or when people pray is between them and God. Do we really need a day of prayer? Do we need all the Christian merchandise that goes along with it?

If such things were so important and necessary, how would Christians in poor countries survive?
When I was 20 I took a trip to Haiti to help build a church. We arrived with our designer shirts, our Nikes, our Bibles. We landed like Europeans, all ready to bless and convert the population. We arrived at the village, driving past mud-huts and into the missionary's compound. Upon reflection, he lived like a king. Every day a member of the village outside died. The body would be carried through the streets in a solemn procession.

Their church services were intense two hour affairs and the people sang up-beat songs, loudly. It was much more like a workout than a passive service. They even prayed out-loud at the same time--their feverish prayers rising like incense into the sky. The voices of all those equals, asking God for some essential ingredient to life, mingled together to form a very sweet sound.

Occasionally someone would beseech God loudly. They spoke in rapid Creole and I didn’t understand. But I didn’t need to understand. One woman was asking God about her son. Another was praying for food. Another wanted his daughter to live. Their heads were bowed so low their foreheads touched the chair in front of them. And they got louder. One woman was on her feet, eyes closed, begging God for something. Another was crying. Hands were in the air. It was a wonderful and humbling thing to see so many people so sincerely talking to God.

Jesus once told a parable to the fundamentalists of his day. Maybe if he was here today he’d say it like this: “Two men went up to the church to pray, one was a fundamentalist and the other never went to church. The fundamentalist stood up, with his National Day of Prayer t-shirt on, and prayed, ‘God, I think you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this fellow I’ve never seen before. I go to church every Sunday and I give my tithe.’ But the other stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, haven mercy on me, a sinner!’ This man went home justified, rather than the other. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled.”

The Christians in Haiti did not need a national day of prayer, because prayer was their life. There was no need for any superficial forcing. They did not have the 10 commandments in their schools, they had no schools. They had no government, no organization, no Christian authors, no Focus On The Family. They had none of that to guide them, most of them didn’t even have Bibles, and yet they--rather than me—were justified before God. When I witnessed that, I realized that I knew nothing about God. I discovered that all the phoniness of organized religion, which I had sold myself to, had not led me any closer to God, but had kept me away. They needed no one to tell them how to go before God, why do we think we do?

Don’t be fooled. We are under no covenant with God that says “if you pray I will bless your nation.” Our covenant is one based on faith in Christ—a personal relationship. It is not bound by countries and governments. And we call ourselves a Christian country because we ecret a National Day of Prayer and sell t-shirts, CDs, and books around it? We have a lot to learn. Don't be fooled. These are no indication of a healthy relationship with God and in the end they will save no one.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Discontented Caucasian Inspires Fear, Suspicion

The country first expressed fear then suspicion at the actions of Jennifer Wilbanks. You may know her better as the bride who faked her own kidnapping, blamed it on a Hispanic man, and torpedoed her own wedding in the process. All this to be welcomed back to Georgia with a blanket draped over her head and a loving fiance ready to put her engagement ring back on her finger. Ahh, America, land of dreams!

Residents of Duluth, Georgia, her hometown, and the rest of the country, expressed shock. A white person, unhappy? In white America? This seems to be happening more and more! Alarming! How is this possible? On paper, she had all the makings of a successful life. A beautiful, thin, brunette with a great smile and nice brown eyes with a doting, slavish fiance, prepared to make her wedding dreams come true. Ahh, her wedding! One which, by any wedding magazine standard, was going to be a wonderful thing. A very large, wonderful thing! It was to be--before she made national news--the biggest day of her life! Yes, exactly the way it should be and more! 600 guests, 14 bridesmaids.

But then this woman freaked out and left town, called 911 and claimed she was kidnapped. But why is this really news? Compared with all the rest of the smelly, seedy, stinking refuse that goes on every day--are we really that compelled by the flailings of another unhappy Caucasian? As a country are we really that captivated with another who gets close to the American dram and melts down at the threshold? I'm reminded of the Scott Peterson trial / circus. Was it tragic that a man killed his pregnant wife? Yes. Was it fascinating that they were a white couple, the wife beautiful? Ohh, yess! He should have been happy! He took the right steps! That was the little twist that made the trial so compelling. After all, if a black man killed his beautiful, pregnant black wife and tried to flee to Mexico, would that event even make national news? No. That, according to our media, is status quo.

But when a white man or woman melts down--after all that has been done for them by government, corporate America, and Christianity--it is nothing short of stunning. What do we need to be happy? Society has been built to give us our bread and circuses. If we have any questions Madison Avenue will be happy to tell us what to do. Buy this car. Take this pill. Drink this beer. All the steps are right there! Jennifer Wilbanks was just doing what all of us do everyday, buying into a system that really doesn't offer us any lasting rewards. We've all been programmed to do the very things corporate America wants. And, as Maslow said, what we are, we must be.

So, what's a girl to do? By the time she is 12 or 13 she has assumed many society's norms for women. It is essential to look good, to get a man's attention, because sexiness is power, right? Madonna taught us that much. Girls dream of meeting "The One", the man who will sweep them off their feet. Implying, that they cannot stand on their own two feet. He is out there, right? Hollywood has taught us that much. Girls dream of their wedding day, they plan it years in advance. Just look at how many wedding magazines are on available the next time you go to the store! The unsuspecting male walks into this on every first date.

But, wait, are men unsuspecting? We are busy going through the motions too. Which woman looks the best? Can she cook? Will she look good in my shiny red corvette? Or, on my obnoxiously loud chopper? After all, men have arrayed these things in an elaborate attempt to display their plumage and woo a woman. Society has told us what the status symbols are and we'd better get them.

Yes, there's a lot of Jennifer Wilbanks in all of us. When a woman is 32, it is time to get married! How much pressure had been leveled on her by society, and family, to "tie the knot" and settle down and raise a family? Somewhere, at the top of some ivory tower, a shareholder declared, "What this country needs is another extremely lavish wedding!" If Brad and Jennifer can have one, why can't the girl next door?

But Wilbanks came down to two weeks left, and decided something wasn't right. Of course, I don't know what it was, but I would hope something in her subconscious woke up and said, "Get off the treadmill!" So, and hatched a plot, bought a bus ticket out of town. She would go away from the noise society was leveling on her. She would vanish into the desert, to the city of Albuquerque, and try to think things though. At least that's what I'd like to imagine.

But, unfortunately she had tipped so much she decided to fabricate a kidnapping. A cry for help perhaps? Is this a woman who desperately wants attention? Don't we all? Did she look around and realize that all the steps she was taking were exactly the same steps people everywhere were taking? I think this is a woman who is obviously unhappy, and maybe a little crazy. But she is definitely someone who wants to be affirmed. And what is crazy? Is it more sane to go through the motions, and empty your wallet without question at the alter of the values America has put in front of you. Is it more sane to sacrifice your true needs for what someone else tells you you need? People who hear voices in their heads are said to be crazy. But what are the rest of us really doing?

And so here was a beautiful white woman in white America, ready to realize one of the great American dreams--her wonderful wedding. And what did she do? She got out of line. And this is the reason why we find this so compelling. What, a beautiful white woman is unhappy? This is America, and that is impossible. At first we were worried about her, but now we regard her with ire and suspicion. Maybe all this woman wants is what we all want: something real. Some real meaning. She wants to be listened to. And what did her fiance do? He put that flashy diamond ring back on her finger. It's back to American life, one step at a time.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Dividing the World

The guest on "This Week: With George Stephanopoulos" was none other than the reverend Pat Robertson. For context, Robertson is the founder of the Christian Broadcasting network, host of the "700 Club", and sometimes presidential candidate. Robertson has authored a charming new book entitled "Courting Disaster: How the Supreme Court is Usurping the Power of Congress and the People".

In it Robertson argues that "an out-of-control judiciary is the single greatest threat to democracy and the religious and moral foundations of America." And even says that this is the greatest threat in American history! He frequently quotes from Jefferson, the Deist, to support his conservative Christian point-of-view. Stephanopoulos tried to pin Robertson down on a few of these issues. One in particular, in-which Robertson says that only Christians and Jews are fit to serve in government, Robertson tried to skate around amounting to a conversation much like this.

George: is that what you believe?
Pat: I meant that I would only have Jews or Christians in my cabinet.
George then reads what Pat wrote in his book about only Jews or Christians being fit to serve in government.
George: So, you don't believe that a Muslim should be able to serve in our government?
Pat: Well, I think we should stick to the founding father's intent. They were Christian. Have you read what Muslims write? They divide the world into two spheres--with God and without God.

So, his whole argument was that people who are judgmental and divisive should not serve in government. He's talking like Muslims have a corner on this activity, but I seem to recall Christians mastering and practicing the art of dividing the world.

Robertson does it himself by his own words. By judging who is fit to serve based on some arbitrary requirement. The opposite of dividing people would be to simply say: anyone who wants to serve can try, and the people will decide who they want to serve for them. Isn't this the most inclusive and fair way? Isn't that what essentially a representative democracy is?

Robertson keeps crying because the "tyranny of the oligarchy" is ruining this country. A few radical liberals and the ACLU are trying to take God out of the government's hands. I just have to laugh at this as if Robertson and his ultra-conservative interpretation of the Bible represent a majority of Christians. And I think someone like Robertson would readily admit that he is in the minority! That's what makes fear-mongering preachers like him so appealing to people: listen to me and I will tell you how to join an exclusive club while the world goes to hell. So, to admit he's in some kind of majority--in good standing with "the world"--goes against much of his apocalyptic rhetoric.

Let's look at the top 10 countries according to quality of life, prepared by the "Economist" and I'll also list their church attendance.

1. Ireland -- 84% church attendance
2. Switzerland - 16%
3. Norway - 5%
4. Luxembourg - < 4%
5. Sweden - < 4%
6. Australia - 16%
7. Iceland - 4%
8. Italy - 45%
9. Denmark - 5 %
10. Spain - 25%
13. US - 44%

And a similiar list by the United Nations

1. Norway - 5%
2. Sweden - < 4%
3. Canada - 38%
4. Belgium - 44%
5. Australia - 16%
6. US - 44%
7. Iceland - 4%
8. Netherlands - 35%
9. Japan - < 4%
10. Finland - < 4%

I think what this shows is that there is no correlation at all between going to church and any pragmatic result in quality of life. If fundamtalism was so compelling then there would be some kind of correlation between church attendence and quality of life--people who go to church more often should be happier, they should be more Christ-like and help their neighbors. In short, countries with citizens who go to church should be heavens on earth.

Statistics can only say so much. Fundamentalists would have you believe that our country is backsliding and getting worse. That once Christians held sway on our great land and now they are in danger of losing ground to liberals, homosexuals, and out of control judges. But our own sortid history, and the sortid history of the Christian church, argues for me beyond doubt.

We arrived, a persecuted, God-loving, Bible believing people. We taught our children to read from the Bible. We removed the Native Americans. We enslaved blacks to do work. Many of the founding fathers--people like Jefferson whom Christians embrace--owned slaves. We have used such tactics to carve out a country from sea to shining sea, rich in resources. The south believed in this institution so much that it was willing to kill thousands of Americans for the right to keep it. We founded companies whith total disregard for basic labor and safety laws. We lagged behind other countries in equal rights--our women could not vote, blacks were enslaved--and today we still lag behind. Homosexuals, to say nothing about how their sexual activity ranks in God's eyes, deserve the same rights as anyone else. Women should be paid the same as men. A person can be an athiest and be a good person. Everyone should have health care. Human rights are equal rights. How can we even call ourselves a country founded on Christ given our violent and selfish history?

As St. James said "So me your faith by what you say, and I will show you my faith by what I do."

And it indites us when we have to take social and civic lessons from countries far less "religious" than us. Just because we are the most powerful country in the world does not mean that God put us there. By that logic did God also approve of the Roman Empire?

This logic that we can somehow narrowly interpret the constitution in a Christian way is crazy. But of course, this is coming from a fundamentalist. Robertson gives his approval to Rudy Guiliani--who, if he were a Democrat--would be demonized for his social stances, and disapproves of John McCain. By what logic does this flow from? By what logic does someone like Robertson embrace president Bush, a man who aquires fundamentalist votes to win an election and 100 days later says you don't have to be a Christian to be a good American, and that faith is a private matter--two stances that fly in the face of fundamentalism? A man who drives up government spending, putting our children in debt, and violently works towards a manifest destiny, this is the same man fundamentalists clamor for? Would Jesus have acted like this?

The logic for dividing up the world is simply not there. You could grab ten random Christians and ask them ten questions on Christian beliefs and I'll bet you would not find two who agree on all ten, or even five. Christians themselves can't reach a consensus on interpreting the Bible--a document they believe is the direct word of God--how can they ever agree on how to interpret the constitution, written by falable men? That logic is crazy.

And it would be better if we didn't try such a thing. Isn't this exactly what we were trying to get away from in the firt place? A government telling other people how to relate to God? To say nothing of the constitution, anyone who perscribes to that ideal knows nothing of basic American history. If this country chooses to elect radical conservatives, and their nominees are approved by our elected representatives I will accept that. But I will not accept disparaging someone because they don't believe exactly the way you want them to.

The answer is not in dividing up the world. It is not found in fear and coercing people to conform. It is found in calling for a society where we treat people like Christ treated others--with empathy and care and common sense. Jesus wasn't even in favor of the status quo fundamentalists at his time, and I doubt he would be in favor of the loudest, most conservative, most agressive fundamentalists now. They were the ones who put him to death because he rocked their system. And now the system is being rocked again, and what does Robertson want? Snuff them out. Divide them out. Put the liberals to death. History has a strange way of repeating itself.